My father and I are fishing the River Usk’s Penpont beat on sunny June day, in a reprise of another Father’s day fishing trip in the pre-COVID days. That day was even hotter than today, but with better flow we manged to winkle out a nice brown trout each.
Today is not looking so promising. If the River Wye yesterday was low, the River Usk today is really ‘on its bones’ as they say. With a good pair of wellies you could have crossed the river in many places. I see a dead six-inch trout in the shallows. A bad sign.
I’m using my Hardy 4-wt fly rod; my father borrowing my old Greys 6-wt, which should be better than the 1980s technology 7-wt he was using yesterday. We work our way downstream, through fields of sheep, pausing to cast into deeper pools or where riffles have added oxygen to the water. A few small fish are rising but we don’t trouble them.
We reach the campsite by the bridge marking the lower bounds of the beat. A camper stops his dog from savaging us. Downstream of the bridge the water falls into a cool deep pool. If I were a trout, this is where I would be today. Sadly for us, its beyond the beat limits.
Sweating in our waders, we walk back upstream, flicking dry flies at likely looking spots. My father catches the fly in a tree. Trying to retrieve it he somehow manages to snap the end off the rod. That’s the end of his fishing today.
From a high bank I see a sizable trout some twenty feet below me. It looks a tricky cast, but the line falls surprisingly softly onto the water. As the fish comes into range, I recast and drop the dry fly into the perfect position. The fish is spooked by the fly. The fish repeats his patrol of the pool a few times, I repeat my casts with the same result. I’m not going to catch this one today. At noon, with the heat only increasing we call it a day.
In hindsight, the cloudless sky and low river level were predictable; catching a fish today was always going to be a long shot. However a sunny day, in a beautiful place, with those close to you is never time wasted.
Postscript: The Greys GR30 needs repairing, or a section replacing. A replacement would be tricky to source with Greys no longer selling this model, so I’ve opted for a rod-tip repair kit from https://www.guidesnblanks.com, for a very reasonable price. The kit comes with hot-glue and three sizes of tips. I’ve use the smallest; a little big for the bore of the rod, but hopefully the glue will be filling out the difference and hold the tip in place. I’ve yet to test it in the field. It’s not a bad idea to keep such a kit in you creel for on-the-bank repairs.
The GR30 was a good entry-level rod for the price about 15 years ago and I hope the repair holds. Nevertheless, I felt I was a little ‘undergunned’ with my 4-wt fishing larger rivers like the Wye, so I’ll be looking to upgrade to a new 6-wt rod with a little more power.