Monday, 30 December 2013

Big Welsh Grayling

Afon Irfon
Our final session of the year was another far flung Grayling chasing sortie into deepest darkest Wales. The Afon(river) Irfon starts life on the upper slopes of Bryn Garw(rough hill) in the Cambrian Mountains and flows through the Abergwesyn valley until it meets the River Wye at Builth Wells. It is a spate river that rises and falls rapidly but the majority of the time it is crystal clear, bounded by woodland and has many rapids interspersed with some tempting looking pools and runs. I have fished it a few times now and it has never disappointed me, the fishing is excellent and the scenery stunning.

This trip had to be booked a few weeks in advance which is always a risk, our timing could be out and we could end up being faced with a raging angry tea-coloured torrent or the weather at this time of year could make the long trip impossible. This time we were lucky. The river was swollen three days ago but it had now dropped to almost it's normal level and the clarity was returning. The weather forecast was sunny and dry.
Martin and I set off at 5am, there had been a really harsh overnight frost, the roads were fine where the gritters had been but we still had to take it steady. We arrived in Builth Wells at first light and grabbed some refreshments. The stretch we were fishing is about three miles from Builth up and down a narrow little country road. As we came down the first sharp incline the van started to gather speed. I touched the brakes gently, the wheels lost their grip and we started to slide. I tried to ground the vehicle up a verge on the left hand side but this only succeeded in flicking the back end out and we entered into a full on spin. With the van bouncing off one verge then the other we rotated a full 720 degrees before I managed to straighten it out again just before the bridge at the bottom. Thankfully neither of us were hurt and there was minimal damage to the van.
With the small bridge negotiated we pulled into a lay-by next to another van. The driver was also an angler on his way to Linear but he had skidded down the other side of the hill and thought better of it. He had been watching us coming down the hill with the headlights going round and round, it must have looked hilarious.
From hereon in we had a choice, sit in the van and wait for the road to defrost or slide our way up the hill (on foot!) to fetch grit salt to help it along. The three of us set off and within 3/4 hour we had both slopes gritted enough to finish off our journey. After a slight detour (wrong turning!) we finally arrived at the river well after sunrise.

Abergwesyn Valley
A roving approach trotting maggots was the order of the day but we struggled to either find fish or get them to feed and after a couple of hours we were biteless. Martin was upstream, trotting the sedate edge of a stunning pool when finally he struck into a decent fish. After rolling around and leaping clean out of the water several times the fish finally succumbed and he put the net under a quality Sea Trout of a couple of pounds. Not the target species but it was good to see a fish.

I decided to head downstream to where the water was calm and deep. I figured the bright light and overnight temperature had forced them into that area. I remained biteless for another hour and I was sure fish were in front of me so I turned to desperate measures. I set up the feeder rod-I know it is sacrilege but blanking was not an option after the arduous journey we had undergone to get there!
Within twenty minutes I finally struck into a bite and landed a 1lb 3oz Grayling, a welcome fish but the target was a 'two'.

1lb 3oz
Next cast produced another bite which as soon as I struck felt different. I was using a very light hooklink and putting as much pressure on as I could in the fast flow but the fish was using it's oversized dorsal fin to great effect and at one stage we reached a stalemate. Then gradually the fish started to come towards me, inch by inch. After what seemed an age I slipped the net under the biggest Grayling I have caught for quite some time.

2lb 1oz
On the scales it went 2lb 1oz and equalled my previous personal best for the species.
The rest of the day passed without any more fishy interruptions. This stretch is normally prolific but was decidedly difficult this time. Hopefully the lack of action was down to the conditions and not the creatures that made these tracks that we found!

1 comment:

  1. What an adventure we had that day, pity the ladies weren't that forthcomming.
    I'll give you 7.9 for the ice skating & 10 out of 10 for the venue. What a lovely setting, even in it's winter garb.