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Fishing tales on Tenkara in Wales, United Kingdom

Re: Fishing tales on Tenkara in Wales, United Kingdom

Postby ConorUK » Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:46 pm

23 July
Morning trip found me on the river at 5.50 am. Water getting back to normal levels, a few inches to go, but still a pale ale colour. At my first cast a kingfisher departed its perch, and left an azure tracer trail as it sped off upstream. Slowly made my way all the way upstream for 1/2 mile or so, alternating between wet and dry as my mood struck me. There were no rising trout as a cue that morning. Enroute caught two trout, one of 23cm, one of 22cm, from the same area of pocket water in a turbulent section of river, fishing a double gold bead stone clinger type pattern that sinks like a stone. The current made these feel like much bigger fish and the rod had a decent bend in it for a few moments until each trout was moved sideways out of main flow to the shallows. I noted that casting with the Ayu rod is much easier with heavy patterns compared to my 8 foot rod. No other takes of fish seen rising until an oblivious 15cm brownie decided to attack my nymph a few feet in front of me. Two more views of kingfishers on the way back. And a special moment, a family of young wrens protesting to parents with a low rattle, probably on one of their first outings, moving around the foliage of a bush and a tree trunk at a frantic pace of furry mice on speed.

I couldnt resist a lunchtime trip back to the river, where Simon, a fellow club member, joined me to try out the Ayu rod. I left him to it as i fished a few pools upstream on my 'old gear'. The water was ferocious here, much higher and harder flow than the lower stretch of river that morning. More rain on the Welsh hills perhaps? This was my first time fishing my 8 foot rod in a few weeks, and it felt very strange and clunky, probably comparable to driving a Mazda Furai for a week and then returning to back to a Renault Fuego. But soon i got the hang of it again and covered areas i would not have been able to with Tenkara due to the high water and me being in thigh waders rather than chesties. I had no takes when I passed Simon going downstream, took a few photos of him in mid flow in chest waders, and he shouted that he was having no takes either, which i had to admit surprised me as I fully expected him to have landed a specimen grayling by then, Murphy's Law! The water was even deeper downstream, and i fished for a while from atop a small spill over, below which was a raging torrent of water, and i could hardly hear, but i did catch a brownie of 23cm in the midst of the flow, on the stone clinger pattern. Then I came to an area that normally would have a lovely run it but today it was like a still muddy pond, i was astounded, having never seen it like that, and if time had allowed would liked to have seen where the dam was downstream, as it might have presented some interesting new flows to fish (or drown in). Two fish were rising in this 'pond' and so leaning precariously out from a branch of a tree and puching my rod out through i tried casting blind to them and peering hard to get glimpses of the tan klinkhammer between branches as it came back towards me. This high risk strategy paid off and i saw a wee little brownie of 16cm came up from the depths and snatch the fly and was able to react in time. Time was then up and Simon was fishing dry fly on the Ayu rod when i reached him but not having any luck.
Conor.

Photo below of the pocket water from which two trout took my fly in the morning
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Photo below of fellow club member Simon fishing the Ayu rod
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Another shot closer up, but the weird light all around him is like something out of a science fiction movie - maybe the rod has magical powers!
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Re: Fishing tales on Tenkara in Wales, United Kingdom

Postby ConorUK » Fri Jul 24, 2009 4:21 pm

24 July
Being determined to see this flood out until its ebb i was on the water at 6am to see how the river was faring. It was doing ok, still a little coloured and high but about right. Started by fishing a deep pool in a downstream manner on Tenkara. Using a bow and arrow cast i got the double bead stone clinger pattern into a nice bit of pocket water, on the third cast i felt a thump and i was into a fish. And then i realised I was into a big fish as the rod strained for all it was worth to contain the beast underwater. I raised the rod higher and then the fish jumped, what a fish, at first i was convinced it was a sea trout but as i worked it in closer it was a grayling, and what a whopper, easily fatter and longer than my personal best on the river, as it showed itself in the flow of water. He then sped off downstream and I held him at maybe 6 foot deep in the pool, for what seemed ages, but was probably a matter of maybe a minute or two. And as he got closer he started to fight again, and i honestly thought the rod would break as i held high but all was well and the fish came to hand slowly, but then the line was in my hand and all i could do was try to beach him, and after two shakes of his head he was free and my club end of season grayling trophy was no longer on my shelf! What a pity! But the fight was so memorable, every tail turn, every dive, each was connected to me in a way i never felt before.

That said, as i continued upstream, and without the value of hindsight , I felt utter despondency, at having lost my one chance of the day. The night before I had reviewed my July records for the river in last two years and it was not encouraging! As I came to the 'devils pool' I noted that the floods had exorcised the tree of snags but replaced it with a massive tree trunk in mid stream creating two flows to fish. A relatively wholesome result in fact. The left flow ,fishing downstream, produced nothing. After my third bow arrow cast to the right the line stopped under the trunk and a fish was on. The Ayu rod bent double again and due to the different angle of the fight i was better able to appreciate its attributes in a fish fight. Soon the fish tired and a lovely trout of 32 cm with a silver sheen across its upper body was landed and photographed on the grass verge.

Photo of the 32cm brownie
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I was well chuffed at my success and continued downstream in bouyant mood. I came to an open expanse of rock and water and fished up and across and down. On the second cast the line tugged parallel to me and a fish was on. A grayling, also of 32 cm, and surprisingly, with less fight than the brownie, came to hand. The size of the fish served to reinforce my awe at the size of the earlier grayling i had allowed to escape. Now i was thinking 40cm+, but before long that would reach 50cm....Back to fishing please!

Photo of 32 cm grayling
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I kept going downstream trying to avoid the many snags presented by undergrowth, and emerged in the open glade part of the wood. My favourite area, but despite that having never caught here except a small brownie on dry at dusk. On my third cast into an area of pocket water with the same stone clinger pattern as before, i got a pull, and a brief fight resulted in another brownie, this time of 31cm. The colouration of this brown trout was something of a joy as per photo.

Photo of 31 cm brownie - what gorgeous spots!
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My time was nearly up but i wanted to find out where the upstream blockage in flow was. I left the rod and ventured upstream into 'the jungle' and took photos of a vast open area of fallen trees and gathered debris of more than 100m across. It was an amazing sight with lots of streams and waterfalls amongst an unfishable expanse of a rugpy pitch. And so ended a great visit, with not only some nice fish landed but also several hits and flashes of other good fish in various runs and pools.

Photo of bank erosion from flood
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Photo of natural dam from fallen trees and detritus
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I came back to these very same pools at lunchtime to see if the 'golden moment' had passed. And so it had.... No matter what i tried the fish would't take. Which was annoying, but then made me appreciate the amazing fishing of the morning even more. At the end of my lunchtime session the rain came down really heavy for 15 minutes solid. And so the river rose and the colour returned. And so its time to catch another golden moment.
Conor
Last edited by ConorUK on Sat Jul 25, 2009 1:50 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Fishing tales on Tenkara in Wales, United Kingdom

Postby Daniel @ Tenkara USA » Fri Jul 24, 2009 7:01 pm

Bravo!!! Keep reporting, can't get enough of tenkara fishing in the UK....still must have a grayling on tenkara....Gorgeous brown too.
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Re: Fishing tales on Tenkara in Wales, United Kingdom

Postby bbamboo » Sat Jul 25, 2009 2:31 am

Great story
Nice fish keep it coming

Gary

www.nichobamboorods.com
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Re: Fishing tales on Tenkara in Wales, United Kingdom

Postby rsetina » Sat Jul 25, 2009 10:26 pm

Great Report! I'm really enjoying the read and can't wait to get my new rod. Should be delivered Monday or Tuesday, I hope. Keep fishing and writing about your adventure. By the way, how did Simon like fishing Tenkara?
Rick

テンカラ。小さなストリームのシンプルさ。
My Tenkara Rods:
13' Ayu, 12' Yamame, 11' with a conversion handle, and an Ito.

My Wife's Tenkara Rods:
12' Ebisu and 13.5' Amago, 12' Iwana with a conversion handle, and an Ito.
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Re: Fishing tales on Tenkara in Wales, United Kingdom

Postby ConorUK » Mon Jul 27, 2009 1:25 pm

Thanks Daniel, Gary and rsetina for the kind comments. To answer rsetina' question, Simon liked using the rod for dry fly, but expressed an interest to work some colour into the furled leader as an indicator for upstream wet fly. Good luck with the new rod rsetina!

27 July
Morning visit to the river, started to fish at 6am and had no luck on upstream buzzer (a green one Simon had given me on which he had hooked and lost a likely new club record). Continued fishing upstream on either tan klinkhammer on dry or double bead stone clinger pattern on wet. No fish rising. On one pool went above to fish downstream to reach a fast run, no interest as i moved foot by foot across and down in a sweep with the stone clinger. And then i was in, a good grayling on the end fighting for all it was worth and using its dorsal fin to good effect. However he tired and moved toward me and as i brought him in....a massive brown trout was in fact what i had on the end of the line, and moreover he decided that he wasnt in fact that tired at all and sped off down into the current, as I stumbled along to keep pace, and then in another pool he came close and i brought him under control and to hand. An absolute beauty of a fish, stocky and long and at 35cm equal to my personal best within season on the river. However, this trout just didnt know when to behave and as i got the mobile out for the release photo, off he shot and the camera took a photo of water!!!

Once my heart beat returned to an even keel i continued fishing various hopeful lies and had one or two pulls but shouldnt have struck at them. Eventually i connected and landed a nice 23m trout. With only 10 minutes left decided to walk the river back and cast back over some of the pools from which i had no pulls earlier. On the third pool a right heave of a pull and for a momentary second i knew i had made contact with another leviathon of a fish. However, all was not lost, as while the fly was working deep in another run the line hit an obstacle and when resistance was applied the obstacle began to move and a good fish was on. A grayling of 32cm was duly landed after a few minutes, and photographed before its return.

Grayling of 32cm
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A lovely morning out with a water temperatire of 13C.

Conor.
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Re: Fishing tales on Tenkara in Wales, United Kingdom

Postby ConorUK » Fri Jul 31, 2009 10:33 am

No visits for me in the last few days and the river has been up anyway as it keeps raining... so much for our BBQ summer! However, i just renewed my club membership of the lower stretch of the river, where the season extends through the winter for grayling, and cant wait to get out. Here there are even bigger grayling and trout... and dace, pike and chub (!) and this 4 mile stretch is tight and deep, so Tenkara will maximise my fishing effort. An update to appear very soon!
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Re: Fishing tales on Tenkara in Wales, United Kingdom

Postby ConorUK » Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:10 pm

3 August
Lunchtime beckoned after a long week away from the river. I was off to try my winter stretch of a few miles, with focus on a few pools in first half mile. A crowd of teenagers messing about on the bank put paid to the pool i intended to fish, and from previous experience knowing full well a few rocks and taunts would wreck my fishing experience. I crawed under some barbed wire further downstream and approached another pool alongside an old brick wall. No sooner had i slowly descended into the river by sliding along the rough bough of a tree trunk than a kingfisher zipped along past. I never get used to that, a pleasure ever time! But, disaster nearly struck as when i took the cork plug out of the rod, balanced inside my wader, the plug squirted out of my hand and in the fashion of a drunk juggler, one hand shot out to grasp the plug on its upward journey only to glance it sideways whilst my other hand shot out only to send it spinning upstream and plop into the flow. Luck was with me as it came back down towards me! Eventually i tackled up and started fishing the pool!

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I was really nervous, the water shelved deep and I was primed for a good take at any moment of every sweep up and across. And as i reached a lovely bit of pocket water in the upper reaches of the run, an area that i could never fish properly before Tenkara, i was ready to strike into even the faintest stop of the line! There had to be fish there but after about 30 casts each a few inches apart from the last, i was ready to drop my stone clinger pattern and move to something lighter. Then there was hope, a flash of a fish, and i perservered, varying ever slightly the journey and depth of the fly past the same spot. No luck! And so i gave up and moved downstream to try a few casts into the tail of the pool before moving on. On the first cast there was a little jink in the line and then the line slowly got very tight, and a fish was on, and in the sunlight i saw a lovely grayling move upstream slowly and i tracked him with the rod raised high. This was a deceptively powerful fish for while little pressure was being applied while he remained stationary any attempt to move him resulted in a powerful surge to the depths. I cursed myself for yet again forgetting to clip my net back on to my fishing waistcoat. However, this grayling came to hand quite nicely, hooked in the upper lip, and it was my best of season at 35cm, a real whopper, and boding very well for this year's autumn fishing of the stretch! I wasnt able to take a decent photo such was my trembling of hands and i took a few moments to salute my quarry as he swam slowly back to his pool.

I continued downstream through a series of runs with two small takes, having switched to a medium weighted orange shrimp pattern.

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The last area i had time to fish looked just like a place i would imagine a chub to reside in our river, that being an assumption based on reading, rather than experience however!

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I spent 10 minutes slowly and methodically fishing its nooks and crannies, and halfway through had one almighty pull but with the fly zinging back to me and into a tangle in a tree! And so i left with a content heart from the mighty grayling that i experienced and full of hopeful anticipation for my future visits here.
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Re: Fishing tales on Tenkara in Wales, United Kingdom

Postby ConorUK » Wed Aug 05, 2009 12:16 am

4 August
Started fishing at lunchtime one pool down from where i finished the day before. The weather was muggy and cloudy, but there was hardly any fly life, and I only saw one small fish rise as i walked along the river. However, i was interested in the challenge of getting a dry fly under a big canopy of leaves with a known fish lie underneath as in photo below.

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I managed to get the fly all of 2 feet under by bending right down and side casting a few inches above the flow. But it was too tight and although i got two casts in a few feet they were clumsy and not far enough in for where i wanted. Meanwhile i saw what seemed a big fish rise further downstream. However, being lazy (getting out of the river involves some serious effort up near vertical 8 foot banks in most places!) I decided to approach on wet fishing downstream using a single bead fat nymph pattern. First cast out and across and a fish was on, a small grayling of 23cm. I continued to the spot i wanted, and after a few more sweeps, a good fish was on, with the long body flash of what looked like a trout, but it was then off. There followed several more takes which fish came off on. This rarely happens on upstream wet fishing, but note its more common downstream, perhaps the springiness of the rod pings the relatively more taut fly before the hook sets properly. Another few feet downstream and a good fish was finally on, and after a battle ensued with a really feisty grayling of 33cm and the branches overhead but eventually it was landed....and guess what no bloomin net. Right thats the first thing i do today, clip net on waistcoat in garage!

There then followed some really tricky fishing and i had hardly any takes, and one small grayling of 22cm, my awkward approach having spooked every fish in the area after a few snags were sorted out in various branches, everywhere. As my fellow club member Eddie says, the Tree Ents are very active on the Alyn! See photo below.

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I came to a short run into a very deep pool and flow out, classic big trout or grayling territory if you can keep a fly in there for a while. However, even though i was bent double on approach there was nothing taking. Will have to tackles this stretch with upstream wets and dry next time. No fish photos but to whet the appetite below is one of an out of season whopper of a trout at 38cm from this stretch last winter when fishing for grayling.

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Oh, and must remember the net next time for the good uns....
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Re: Fishing tales on Tenkara in Wales, United Kingdom

Postby ConorUK » Wed Aug 05, 2009 2:30 pm

5 August
I was walking down the riverbank to fish at lunch when i remembered my net in the back seat. I had managed to get it from the garage to the car but not hooked it onto my waistjacket... speechless with disgust at my poor memory. However, the sun was out, the water had a certain sparkle about it in the ripples of the breeze and all was well with the world otherwise. I ventured even further downstream than before, this time intending to fish a small stretch of 100m upstream on dry, which held two key pools i had in mind. First i had to negotiate the boundary edge of a massive field of lush clover....pretty nice looking, but hard going to get along!

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Arriving at the right spot I heard a heavy splash and caught the bow wave of a big rise in the pool below.Decided to try there first! Going totally Tenkara on rod line and fly i tied on a size 18 Sakasa-Gujo dry and started to cover the general area. On the second cast there was a movement below...but no connection. Next cast, a little further, the tiny fly hardly visible to me and there was a flash and a lovely little grayling was on, putting a surprising bend on the rod, only 20cm in length! There followed another few rises to the fly which ignored, these being flashes from impossibly tiny fish! But most big fish taken on dry on the Alyn are on size 18 or smaller so it was just a matter of time! A larger rise, and a fish was on... a little grayling of 14cm. I decided to switch to a Sakasa green bodied reverse hackle pattern, size 14, and fish it upstream just subsurface. This caused quite a commotion of follows, and brief takes, but all from fish in that shoal of small grayling. I was hoping the shoal would part as a big un cleared them and reached the prize, and make my day! But at this point the pool was too disturbed for a wise old fish and i moved back to where i wanted to start originally, but quite content with the fishing so far anyhow.

I changed my mind on fishing dry and decided to fish a deep rapids pool with a few turns on the stone clinger pattern. First cast in, down it went into the hole, and the line went taut, and then the rod started bending seriously and i thought i had hit some log going downstream and as i started to pace downstream i could see it was a good trout, and with such strength. Again he surged downstream, and i gave him more space, then one last surge for a really snaggy area, which i kept him out of and now we were in shallows and with rod raised high and heart rate pounding from excitement i drew him in, and there was little fight left at that stage. Photo of the 31cm brownie on his release out below. I have kept the photo on original scale to see the detail. Lovely fish, well suited to its river bed colour and i was well chuffed to have captured him on the mobile phone, it was a point and click 3 times and this one came out lovely.

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There wasnt time for much more, a few tentative casts in another pool with no takes. Photo of my fly box below to finish the vist. Note the stone clinger patterns are the double bead bigger ones relative to the rest, needed to cope with short deep rapids pools.

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