Sunday, 24 March 2013

Garnffrwd Fishery

13 March 2013

Having managed a few good sessions on the river lately, I decided a change of scenery was in order. My initial thoughts were a trip to Llyngwyn, run by Rhayader and Elan Valley Angling Association or to Garnffrwd Fishery. As I had a visit to Llyngwyn in the calendar for early April I got in touch with good mate Dan Graham to see if he fancied a trip down south. He did. We arranged some leave and the day was booked for 13/03/13.

Albeit rather cold, the weather report said the day was going to be dry and sunny. Wanting to make the most of the day, we set off early. We would have arrived at the lake sooner, heavy snow and dodgy roads over the Sugar Loaf meant we didn’t get there until about 9. The conditions on the way were not what was predicted and it did make us doubt our decision somewhat. However, on arrival it was a clear and crisp day with an occasional spot of rain.
Before heading down to the lake, we stopped to have a chat with the owner, Jamie Miller. We chatted about how the lake was fishing and if any methods were working well.  We took time to talk about the 6 nations and how Wales would beat England in Cardiff and secure the championship (how right we were – apologies on any English readers for bringing that up again). With a chill I the air, Dan commented that all will be fine once we get a fry up at Christine’s Cafe to which Jamie replied ‘Christine doesn’t open Monday-Wednesday’. It was Wednesday and as you could imagine we were devastated!!!

With no food on board we could well have been staring a bonfire by the lake to cook our trout or possibly tucking into raw fish like Gollum off Lord of the Rings…..My Precious!

Down at the lodge, we tackled up in the marquee out of the rain; I set up 2 rods for the day. My first rod set up to strip the lures. An 8ft 6" 7wt Flextec Streamtec rod with a fast glass line to which I attached around 9ft G3 fluorocarbon to a home made Blank Zonker – this was my first ever attempt at a Zonker and wasn’t too pretty but it thought id give it a try. My second rod was my 8ft 5wt Airflo Sreamtec rod. On this I had a floating line where I set up a strike indicator, below that about 9ft to a bloodworm pattern on the point. I set a small black emerger to my dropper to fish about a foot or so blow the surface as there had been some fish near the top when we took an early inspection of the water. The water was holding a lot of colour, much below 1ft or so and the visibility dropped to about zero.

We started fishing to the left of the lodge a spot called ‘the meadow’. Dan quickly hooked into a lovely Rainbow but that was the only fish to the net in the first hour. I had had quite a few knocks on my Zonker but nothing to the net (was the tail too long?). That first hour did give us an indication that pulling lures was the way to go for the day.

When a Ninja goes fishing, he catches fish!
A move from ‘the meadow’ round to ‘the finger’ saw a change of fortunes and a few fish to the net. By this time it was getting on for late morning when we started to land fish and it appeared we were the only ones doing so.  
Lovely little brown for Dan

The method was one of Dan's black and yellow dancers with a Hanak silver bead (although any black lure with a silver bead was getting some interest). This fly, fished on a fast glass line near the bottom with short sharp pulls was the go to method for the day; a few casts with the strike indicator/buzzer had no action. A few people had asked Dan about hit pattern, which he was happy to share. One chap started to flap his gums and saying the fishery was poor. The comments returned to him was ‘there is nothing wrong with the fishery mate, take a look at your method and how you’re fishing it – were doing just fine!!!’

About midday, we had a break for ‘lunch’ and what a hearty meal it was - A Snickers a Wispa and a drop of pop!

Not to worry! Our spirits were lifted when was started the afternoon session as the sun came out and started to feel rather warm. We both decided we would start the afternoon fishing just past the bridge to the right of the lodge. I fished the out towards the dam whilst Dan fished towards the water inlet. Having had a couple of solid pulls, Dan was convinced there was a decent fish lurking…he wasn’t wrong. After a short while, I had a shout. From the tone in his voice I could tell Dan was into a good fish.  

Playing the fish in some open water

Dan trying to keep his fish away from the bridge

I quickly made my way to him eager to see the fish, after some very strong runs towards every structure in the lake we finally took sight of the fish, bigger than we both expected. After I helped to net the ‘slab’, which took a bit of lifting I might add, we took her up onto the grass for a quick pic before putting her back into the lake to grace other anglers net. A gorgeous 8lb Brownie. 
8lb Garnffrwd Brownie
After Big Brown, we moved around the fishery a bit and I even fished the dries a bit. Having seen a few fish on the top I searched my box for a dry fly. The only one I had was a Daddy Long Legs (why it was in with my lures I don’t know!). I stripped the setup down on my Airflo Streamtec rod and tied on the fly. A couple of fish rose but turned away last second. One solid take was followed by the fly catapulting back at me as the fish popped the hook – that was the end of the dry fly action for one day!

I next set up in front of the lodge again and fished the lures. I fished from peg 2 over towards peg 3 tight to the margins. I had a lot of interest and a couple of hook ups but I couldn't get any to the net. I did hook one rainbow right under the rod tip after watching him follow the fly in. Instead of turning and disappearing into the depths for me to pull him back, he shot straight towards me, before I could get the line straight and manoeuvre him he went right under the platform, around the water pipe and left me in a right old tangle!!!

A fish or two more came to the net over the course of the afternoon but as is often the case the fish were not taking as actively as they were. We finished about 5, packed up and decided to make our way for some food before home. Ravenous, cold, tired but having had a great day. We both remarked that it was probably the first time we had been there and taken more Brownies than Rainbows. I had 4 Browns and 2 Rainbows, Dan had 7 Brown and 2 Rainbows.

If you haven’t fished here before, I recommend you do –

A few more of my fish from the day.

Look closely and you can see the killer fly - Black and Yellow Dancer
A well spirited Rainbow
Another Brownie - this one had gorgeous orange spots
Until next time…

Friday, 1 March 2013

Back on the River and Catching the Ladies

The weather had finally been kind (albeit cold).  It was dry and the river levels were down to a good level and in parts were crystal clear (as you can see in the pic of Irfon Bridge below - river bed highly visible).  If truth be told, the river was too clear for the section of water I decided to fish last Saturday (24/02/13).

Having been awake since 5! I decided to go out early and have a few hours before lunch.  I stayed in town and went to one of my favorite summer time dry fly stretches of the river.  A place where there are usually a good head of Grayling.

The stretch of river I fished was from Irfon bridge up towards 'Black Pool'.  Making your way from the bridge up river, the water level changes from rapids to a long slow moving run of shallow (knee deep) water up to a very deep pool that forms off the back of a gorgeous water fall. 

Irfon Bridge, River, Irfon, Builth Wells, Fly Fishing, Grayling
Irfon Bridge
Black Pool River, Irfon, Builth Wells, Fly Fishing, Grayling
Black Pool in the distance
Having been sent some flies again by Dan Popp (Small Stream Addicts), I was eager to give them a go.  I decided to fish one of my favorite methods, the Duo (Klink and Dink or whatever you like to call it).  I set up my cast with an olive klinkhammer with a silver bead hot spot nymph about 3ft below.  If anything this set up was a little long for the main stretch of river but was ideal for the main pool at the top of the run.

Fly Fishing
Dan's Nymph
Fly Fishing
Dan's Klinkhammers
It was cold, very cold! After being stood fishing against the far bank where the river does run a little deeper, I had had no luck and to top it all off it started snowing!  Not only that but the wind was blowing straight up the river and I had no shelter what so ever.  Despite the rather unsuccessful start to the day i made my way up to the pool.

After fishing for half hour or so I had still caught nothing.  Then, the clouds broke and the sun shone for the first time all morning and boy was I grateful for the warmth.  However, it wasn't just me that seemed buoyed by the sun as within 10 mins of the sun coming out I had my first fish of the day, a Grayling of about 1/2lb taken on the nymph.  On the very next cast and as the nymph drifted through a channel formed by the big rocks, another small Grayling.

River, Irfon, Builth Wells, Fly Fishing, Grayling
One of the small Grayling
After a couple more casts I hooked another fish, one that turned out to be biggest and last of the day.  I netted a Grayling of just over a pound, lots of damage down the flanks (I assume from the Cormorants or Goosanders), but in the sunshine managed to get a lovely shot and the fish even played its part by raising fin.

River, Irfon, Builth Wells, Fly Fishing, Grayling
Biggest Grayling of the day
Then it was like flicking a switch, nothing, and before long the sun had gone again.  3 fish in 10 minutes and all in the sunshine!  With the sun gone and having just about lost the feeling in my face, hands and legs i decided to call it a day and head home for some dinner and a much needed thawing out!

Until next time...