Archive for November 1st, 2012

On our second day in Wales we decided to head to the Irfon.  The Irfon is a beautiful, intimate river in comparison to the much wider Wye.  It cuts through the hills and rocks and joins the Wye somewhere around Builth.  We were fishing some way upstream of here on a truly stunning section, set amongst the heavily forested hills and high cliffs.  The trees were in their full autumnal transformation and the array of colours was quite spectacular.

The river was gin clear and as it cascaded over bedrock and tumbled down into the deep pools it looked quite magical.  Fortunately for wading purposes there was a good mixture of gravel and bedrock and this made life a little more comfortable.  Depths were average for the Irfon, often 2′ 6″ to 3′ seemed to be standard.  We had plenty of smooth runs to go at and we hoped the fishing was going to be as good as the conditions looked.

I opted for a slightly smaller float or around 3bb as the depth was minimal and the flows moderate.  I took a walk along the entire length of the section and eventually settled on a nice run of about 2′ 6″ which narrowed at the end of the run as it was squeezed between the bedrock.  A little and often baiting approach soon paid off, with the float burying and a hard fighting grayling vying for freedom on the other end.  I’m pleased to say I won the battle and a stunning grayling of 1lb 11oz was soon returned unscathed.   Both Geoff and Kevin had stayed on a deep bend and although Kevin had managed a couple of reasonable fish, Geoff hadn’t had a bite.  I had another couple of decent fish when Geoff arrived.  He dropped in below me and proceeded to hook numerous big grayling.  Sadly he was having ‘one of those days’!  Virtually every fish he hooked came off.  I at least learned a few new words!

I continued to catch and eventually hooked what felt like a bigger fish.  Despite it’s best efforts at shedding the hook as it left the water like an exocet missile on numerous occasions during the fight, I finally managed to land the fish.  Other than an old wound on the flank the colours and condition of the fish was stunning.  It turned out to be my best Irfon fish to date at 2lb 4oz and I followed that up shortly after with another good fish going 2lbs exactly (honest Guv).  That’s the first brace of twos I have managed on either the Wye or the Irfon and I was chuffed to bits.

Towards the end of the day the fishing died and we decided to head off lower downstream.  We all managed a few grayling and some very nice dace before calling it a day.  Geoff even hooked and promptly lost a couple of unseen monsters. Judging by the speed with which they accelerated, we think they were probably salmon.  Throughout our stay we saw lots and lots of salmon jumping, so it made sense to come to that conclusion.

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Having managed to escape work for a few days it seemed appropriate, with the onset of winter, to head back to Wales for some early season grayling fishing.  We left Kent and the M25 corridor in thick fog.  It appeared it was going to take some time to get to Wales in these conditions and after a sustenance stop at the Swindon services, it’s generally a good 5 hour trip anyway.  However we were lucky.  Once we reached the M4 and progressed on past Reading, the fog lifted and it was plain sailing all the way.

We had decided to fish the Wye on our first morning.  We were keen to get started. As we looked across the Wye Valley, the hills were shrouded in low clouds.  It looked amazing.  It really lifts the spirits to fish in such incredible surroundings.  We couldn’t wait to get going and I headed downstream with Kevin, He headed to his favourite swim and I decided to explore a bit more, something I love doing.  It doesn’t always pay off but if I’ve gone all that way I want to explore every nook and cranny.

Kevin started as he meant to go on and caught from the off.  I dabbled here and there and never really got into any big numbers of fish.  With frequent ‘little and often’ baiting tactics you can keep quite a good shoal of grayling interested for some time, especially on a river the size of the Wye.  This generally means you can put together quite a big bag of grayling before they spook too much.  On a small river you would really need to rest the swim or keep moving.

As always the crease of the river seems to produce the goods.  Often that means wading out to mid river and fishing that distinct line that marks the edge of the main flow and that of the slightly slower flow on the inside.  With a regular trickle of bait and allowing the float to manoeuvre down this line, sometimes holding back quite hard, you should soon be picking up bites and fish.  Every now and again you’ll hit into an obviously bigger fish, although sometimes at distance.  With grayling being such feisty fighters it can be quite frustrating trying to keep them on.  They love to twist and turn, shaking their heads and utilising that huge sail like dorsal fin to full effect in the powerful flow of the upper Wye.  Often they launch themselves out of the water, thrashing their heads from side to side in a desperate attempt to shed the hook.  Often they succeed too unfortunately and of course it’s always the big fish that you lose!!

In terms of tackle I like to keep it quite simple really, especially here on the Wye as they don’t get fished for too much by coarse anglers (and they don’t come much coarser than me!). I’ll fish a stick float with around 3-6bb which I’ll bulk around 18 inches from the hook.  I will then use a dropper shot of around a number 6 or 4 around 6 inches from the hook which is generally a Kamasan B983 hook with the barb pinched down and in size 14 or 16.   Bait depends on the time of the year and what is allowed but it would mainly be maggots (red seem to be best) or small red worms.  Corn can occasionally produce a bite but nowhere near as many as the previously mentioned baits.  It’s that simple really.  In terms of float control you need to vary the presentation.  Let it runs through unhindered a few times, trying holding back occasionally, which allows the bait to flutter up enticingly in the flow.  You can even hold it back hard and quite literally inch it through the swim.  All can be deadly and you need to keep ringing the changes to see what’s the most effective.

Anyway, back to the day in question.  Despite the mildness of the day I had a distinct chill in the bones and it seemed to get worse as the day wore on.  Neither Geoff nor Kevin could really understand why I was so cold.  Eventually I worked it out.  My waders had a leak in the right leg and I was soaked from the upper thigh down.  As this wasn’t due to incontinence it had to be a hole in the waders.  Luckily it was quite late in the day when I discovered this, so I stopped fishing for the last hour.  Besides which Kevin had emptied the river and I was feeling decidedly inadequate.

We headed off to Richard and Jane’s to settle in to the cottage.  As always they were tremendously welcoming and we booked ourselves in for a full breakfast the next morning.  We were all cream crackered and so after a decent hot meal we decided to call it an early night and I slept like a log 🙂

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