At Last! The first river trip of the season

Saturday morning saw me rise bright and early in great anticipation of the first day of the trout season. Waking up to the pitter patter of rain on the kitchen roof put some doubts in my mind to whether the river would be fishable or not, sometimes these small freestone rivers can colour up pretty quickly, but a short strole across the road to check the Taff, it was still low and gin clear. An hour or two at the vice and around 30 more flies added to my collection I was ready to throw lead and tungsten at some unwary trout for the first time in over 5 months.

Early season trouting is my favourite, the fish are usually easy to find as they don’t often move far from the bottom! The fish seem to hug the bottom in the deeper pools, boycotting the shallower more turbulent runs or pockets, maybe because there’s too much oxygen in the water and its not comfortable or the nymphs are not so active and the fish need to grub about to get a substantial feed.

Jonathan, Terry and I walked the banks of the river dropping off one by one into likely looking runs. Me and bish opted for a deep corner pool where in 2011 produced a 4lb Salmon on my very first cast! Two anglers, two methods means double the chances, right?

The river was a cloudy, sort of white in colour but still with fairly good visibility, it was worth a chuck anyway. My fly choice is always determined by the conditions, people have their favourites, as do I, but most of my favourites are small and light in colour, something which goes against the theory known by many anglers; ‘Dirty water, dark flies. Clear water, Clear flies’ Anyway, enough of the philosophical, My fly choice was a orange tag and a black jig. These are both dark flies which will hopefully stand out in the darker water, making their presence to the trout known.

After the first pool we were quiet disappointed with the fishing, no fly life, no takes and nothing to resemble movement of a trout. We quietly worked our way up the top of the pool leapfrogging each other if one was fishing a likely looking hole. Jonathan who was fishing the ‘stimmy’ walked on ahead of me into a deep, swirling pool, with one distinct current on the far side which is usually the most productive section. The pool was deep at around 6-7 feet and shallows off to 2 feet at the back end, first cast onto the shelf the stimmy slipped away and a feisty browny leapt into the air only to throw the hook. Now this is the interesting part, when we go ‘Fish for fish’ once one angler hooks a fish and plays it, its counted, this saves the length of time waiting between each go. Sometimes it backfires though when one hooks a fish first cast. Jonathan and I hook into 15 fish between us, I landing 7 and Jon landing just 2 but loosing 5. I really don’t know how he does it.

Fishing our way up the pool Jonathan swapped to the french leader as the flow of the run was speeding up and the weight of his flies weren’t heavy enough to fall through the current. Changing the tactics seemed to turn his luck for the better, the indicator stopped and there was nothing but a good head thump which remained deep in the water column. Holding the rod high and putting a good bend into his Airflo Streamtec Nantec 10ft 3/4 weight,  the fish eventually surfaced but as quick as it did, submerged itself back into the depths. Thing where tensing up, not to mention Jonathan’s arm, until the fish lay stagnant mid flow. It looked odd, surly the fish wasn’t that strong? It was just holding there in the strongest of flows, it was only apparent what happened when a leaf got stuck on the line below the fish.. the dropper had hooked a wayward mattress of all things. The more and more pressure Jon was putting on the fish, the less it seemed to do! After 5 minutes of basically nothing, I took over the rod to try and break the point fly off. Walking downstream to give a different angle, the force of the current and the pressure of a doubled over rod was too much for the leader and broke the mainline perfectly at the dropper knot, fish and dropper still in contact! I give the rod back to Jon and he continued the fight for just a few seconds until the fish slipped into the net.

A magnificent coloured wild brown trout and a personal best for Jonathan. Nice one. Estimated at 2.5lb and just over 45cm.

The day just got better from there. Each and every deep pool we found, we hit fish on both methods and a good range of flies. There’s nothing like a good early season trip to get confidence in your fishing methods and flies. We fished on until around 2pm. Flies which were present seemed to dwindle away an hour or so earlier and the heavens opened. The Ebbw, which seemed to be clearing again coloured up and eventually stopped play.

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