Archive for February 12th, 2012

We had another three days fishing planned in Wales but sadly the weather cut our trip short on the Friday.  We had heavy rain, sleet and snow overnight Thursday and even during Friday morning and so we decided to head home early, after another hearty breakfast.  We were glad we did because when we saw the river, it was very high and very coloured and would have been a waste of time.

Three wise monkeys

Still the two days prior to this provided us with some decent conditions.  Sadly it was still bitterly cold with temperatures down to -6 to -8 overnight and barley above freezing during the day.  Wednesday and Thursday saw us on the same stretch.  The water was clear and had dropped a little since Monday.

The Upper Wye

We wandered along the whole length of this section, exploring every opportunity.  We found some cracking swims and over the 2 days caught quite a few decent grayling, topped off by a 2lb grayling for Geoff.  We lost a few and I know Kevin lost several decent grayling.  Most of the fish were around a pound and in lovely condition.  Sadly the sub zero conditions made the fishing very tough.  Still despite that, we caught  about 90 grayling over these last 2 days.

Geoff's 2lber

It will give us a few more ideas when we return in November.  I must say that the Welsh people are very warm and friendly.  You always get a wave and a hello from just about everyone.  A rare thing here in the south east.  So we know that wonderful and evocative song ‘we’ll keep a welcome in the hillside’ is quite heartfelt.

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Day two of the trip turned out to be even colder.  The overnight temperatures had plummeted and it was going to get even colder.  The biggest problem is the top half a dozen rings on the rod freezing.  You have two options; 1) WD40 or 2) Glycerin.  The later probably being the most effective.  They both work though and solve the icing up problem very well.

Today we headed to one of the tributaries.  After a long walk we each found a spot to fish.  I waded out and despite the cold fished in about 2 feet of water.  I lost a fish after a few trots and then eventually managed a small grayling.  I tried all of the usual tricks; holding back hard, changing baits, fishing different lines and fishing in the slacks, all to no avail.

The Wye

I opted to move and met up with Geoff and Kevin.  They had taken a couple of fish but again it was proving to be a tough day in the bitter conditions.  I waded out again and started to fish a nice run of about 3 feet.  It was now that I felt like my foot was wet.  It didn’t feel cold, just sort of squelchy.  I carried on for a while but it got worse.  I knew now that I must have a leak in the waders.  Well when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go!  No, I clambered out and removed the waders only to find my left leg soaking wet all the way up to my buttocks.

Talking of brass monkeys

So for me the fishing was over today.  I had to head to Sportfish to buy a repair kit.  You can’t fish effectively here without chest waders, so it was a necessity to repair them, even though the shop was 25 miles away.  I left the boys to it at around 12pm.  I managed to get what I needed and then headed back to the cottage.  The guys arrived home earlier than I expected.  One reason was the fishing was very tough and the second reason was Dan doing an impression of Tom Daley or maybe he thought he was Tarzan, as he dived  into the river backwards!  He was a little bruised and battered but none the worse for his ordeal.  I think the shock of falling in was the bigger problem and he was glad to jump into a hot shower on his return.

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As I sit here eating my porridge, I am just about thawed out from the sub zero conditions of my last grayling trip to Wales. We had temperatures down to -10. I believe the term is brass monkeys.

The heavy snow that fell in Kent Saturday night was a bit of a shocker. I was driving back from a day on the Itchen and was caught in the ensuing blizzard. Most of the trip back was in heavy snow and it was becoming apparent the snow was laying quite quickly. By the time I arrived at Reigate, the motorway was covered. Luckily on reaching the Sevenoaks area, I had managed to get ahead of the snow and arrived home safely.

With a trip planned to Wales for 5 days on the Monday, things were looking a little tricky. On awakening Sunday morning, I found we had had maybe 4-6 inches of the white stuff. Lots of phone calls ensued. It seemed my roads were pretty good. The gritters and ploughs were out in force and the roads from about Swindon onwards looked clear. By the end of the day on Sunday, we had decided to go for it.

We headed over the Severn Bridge and cut across the Brecon Beacons. The Black Mountains were covered in snow but the roads were good and eventually we arrived at our destination. We managed to find a cafe in a small village and stuffed our faces with the local health food. You know the sort of stuff; eggs, bacon, sausages etc etc. Low cholesterol and fat free.

A big grayling

We arrived at the river and hoped it would be in good sorts. It was actually quite coloured and up about a foot from our last visit. Despite this it still looked fishable but it was bitterly cold, however at least snow free. We decided to give it a go and explore the section as best we could. I headed up stream with Dan, whilst Geoff and Kevin opted to go downstream.

It was a tough start. I started out fishing a deep pool. I lost a fish almost first cast and then despite numerous moves, I couldn’t muster a bite. I decided to leave Dan to it and move downstream. Bit by bit I worked my way down to the other two guys and ended up fishing in between them. Kevin had found a few fish and was doing reasonably well, considering the conditions. The area was just off of a bend and was smooth water with a reasonable depth. I think in really cold conditions you will struggle to find grayling in very deep water, they seem to prefer the shallower parts. This area was about 3 foot deep.

Dan does it again

I watched as Kevin landed a few fish but sadly lost several big fish. We couldn’t be certain what they were but he felt confident that they were big grayling. I fished the inside line and trickled in a constant supply of maggots. After a couple of runs through the float buried and I hooked into what felt like a bit of a zoo creature. It quite literally towed me all over the river. It was heavy and very powerful. I decided it must be a decent chub and this stretch does produce some clonkers. The fish broke surface and I caught a quick glimpse of it and it looked like a grayling but I couldn’t be sure. After another spell, again the fish broke surface and I saw that long, sail like dorsal rise out of the water.

It was indeed a big grayling and is why we come to this region. Eventually, after a touch of jelly legs syndrome, I managed to net the fish. It looked huge and as I called for the guys, I was convinced it would be close to 3lbs. I was a little ambitious and on the scales it went 2lb 11oz and 3/4. It was weighed in a small plastic bag and so I settled for 2lb 11oz. It equaled my PB and was a magnificent specimen. I was over the moon. It’s been a long time since I landed a grayling of these proportions and was worth the wait.

2lb 11oz Grayling

We carried on fishing. Kevin ended up with a good tally of fish but sadly lost several very big fish, one close to the net. He estimated the fish to be over 2 1/2 pounds and having seen mine, it’s likely to have been so.

The three of us ended up catching a few but not many, whilst Kevin made double figures I think. It was a tough start. Still we headed off to the cottage for a nice cuppa and some food. Our hosts Jane and Richard were there to welcome us and we booked in for a breakfast with them on the Wednesday morning. They are wonderful hosts and make our stay here all the more special.

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