Weeeeeed!

During Saturday’s excursion with Justin & Neil I noticed a few patches of Himalayan Balsam just coming into flower – it won’t be long now until they start to spread their evil seeds.  Each plant will produce around 2500 explosive seeds that will rapidly colonise previously unaffected ground – growing to over 2 meters tall and out-competing the native plants, spelling doom & disaster for the dependent wildlife and leaving acres of bare earth after the first frosts which will end up on the spawning gravels after the first spate of the winter.  We hand-pulled several hundred plants, making sure to break them below the first node to prevent them re-sprouting.

I spoke to a passer-by who poured scorn on our efforts, deeming the effort to be like that of sisyphus rolling his rock to the top of the mountain, only to see it roll back down again and I guess, many would agree.

Charfield Angling Association has, this year, started an ambitious program to control, if not eradicate this invasive, non-native pest after seeing the fantastic progress made by the Monnow Rivers Association’s ‘Going Native’ project which aims to rid an entire catchment of Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed and American Mink.  So far this year they have treated an astonishing 48kms of the catchment and this will soon be followed up by working parties hand-pulling anything that was missed by the spraying teams.  If anyone has any doubts that total eradication can be achieved I would strongly suggest that they contact the MRA here – I’m sure they will be pleased to offer advise and encouragement.


And the winner is!

Justin.

As the winner of the ‘Day on the Little River Avon’ lot in the Monnow Rivers Association auction he got to spend a day in the dubious company of Neil and I.

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Many fish caught.  Much Balsam pulled; and I was reminded of what a lovely little river this is.


Today there is a Royal wedding…

…and I intend to miss every minute of it.  The Monnow calls.


Take action now to give rivers a voice

This summer the Government will publish its White Paper on Water. This is an important opportunity to safeguard the health of our rivers and protect freshwater wildlife for the future. And we’re calling on our supporters to take action to help protect our rivers.
Defra has already outlined what it intends to include in its Water White Paper – which you can see here

From Our Rivers


Spring?

Today, A few things have happened to make me feel that spring [and therefore fishing] is getting closer.

  1. I received the beat map for my new club today and I am really looking forward to getting to know this part of the river a little better.
  2. There was a massive hatch of something tiny and unidentifiable from my lawn this morning
  3. The Magpies have started collecting nesting material
  4. Caravans!  Lots of them heading south on the M5.

Now I wouldn’t normally herald the re-appearance of caravans on our roads but all of the above serve to remind me that the season is tantalizingly close.  Time to check the waders and re-spool the lines methinks!

Good luck to everyone for the coming season.


Wet Weekend

Neil has some great ideas.  On Thursday I had a message saying he was taking the van down to the Monnow to camp for the weekend.  He’s taking Ollie & Shane [splendid fellows both], and that I was welcome to join them if I wish.  I had no hesitation in accepting.

It’s 10:30, Friday morning.  My van is packed.  I’m sitting in my conservatory trying to hear the TV [Paul Young – Hooked on Fishing, Golden Piranha in Argentina] over the noise of the rain bouncing off the roof.  The gutters are over-flowing, the bottom of the garden is starting to flood and there has just been an almighty clap of thunder.

If the weather on the Brecon Beacons is anything like it is here we’ll be more likely to catch Piranha than trout this weekend.


There and back again

Early Saturday saw us loaded and northbound to our first stop, the Wild Trout Trust bash in Derbyshire.  Some fascinating talks on stocking policies, gene pools and the Riverfly Project and a chance to catch up with some old friends was followed by a guided walk of the rivers Bradford and Lathkill.  I think everyone was eager to get out on the river and get out of the most uncomfortable chairs a behind has ever had to endure 🙂

The river walk was designed to explain the habitat improvements made in order to support the decision to stop stocking in 2005 [?]. Whilst this was educational, what everyone was spellbound by were the profusion of wild browns and rainbows lazily finning and confidently taking the profusion of aquatic flies drifting over them.  Simply mouth-watering.

After an overnight stay in the Peak District and an early morning northward dash, we set up camp about 10 yards from the River Braan.

Bongo and Awning - Braan

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The rest of the day was spent in reconnaissance, taking in the breath taking scenery and being totally blown away by the amount of fish-able water within easy travelling distance from our base, the sheer size of some causing comments like the one from the passenger seat as we drove over the Tay bridge in Pitlochry, ‘Feck me!  It’s the English Channel!’

Having had our appetites well and truely whetted we were more than ready to fish on Monday.  At the reccommendation of the guy in the tackle shop in Pitlochry, we headed for the Tummel, just below Coronation Bridge.

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For all other purposes the weather was magnificent.  Hot, cloudless blue skies, no wind.  Needless to say, this was somewhat less than ideal for fishing a strange river.  Very hard work but at least we caught fish and got rid of the yips.  I hear that the World Fly Fishing Championships will be held on the same stretch of water later this week –  I hope they have more joy than we did.

Fishing continued in the same vein under a mercilessly cloudless blue sky for the next few days.  Plenty of fly life in the air but very little on the water and no consistent ‘risers’.  Fishing into the darkness with very little success, frustration building, the decision was made to de-camp to the Upper Clyde.

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We fared no better here, a few small fish caught, more lost, and the sight of a monsterous brownie hoovering up fry was our total return for a hard day fishing against the odds.  Neil claims to have had a huge pike brush by his leg in a pool at the tail of a riffle but, by then I think the sun had got to him [or me] 🙂

The following morning we were racing south, heading for home waters.  We stopped by the Annan for a couple of hours, just in case things were better there – they weren’t.

A bath, a decent meal and a very surprised wife set me up for the following day.  I met Neil at Waterloo Bridge on the Monnow where, apparently things had been tough too but, shortly after I arrived it started to rain.  Would this be what the river needed to freshen things up a bit?  Absolutely!

We both took fish.  Good, wild fish.  And last knockings found me in a long shallow stretch with a decent run under some low over-hanging branches.  There were rises so subtle as to be almost undetectable.  I swear the surface remained unbroken while the trout were sucking down flies from a few inches down.  Fly disappears, wait a few seconds and tighten – fish on!

I took four good fish out of that short section, the last being the fish of the day and possibly my fish of the season, a touch over 16 inches.

So we were back.  Older certainly, wiser maybe, more appreciative of just how good the Monnow is – absolutely.  Would I do it again?  Yes.  Would I do it with Neil again?  In a heartbeat.  I think it’s time for more beer & bullshit.


Heading North

It started out as a half-assed plan, hatched during a closed season beer & bullshit evening with Neil [he of the jammy bugger smile].  Far too much bullshit and way too much beer, in fact, so much beer that I had to be reminded that a plan had bee hatched at all!

This was a very long time ago – a couple of seasons at least.  Since then we have been holding regular Strategy Planning Meetings in the same pub where the hatching first happened, with the result that asolutely nothing has been planned.  More bullshit, more beer.

Continue reading


Monnow Fisheries Association – HIP

I have just updated the MFA website with the news that the Habitat Improvement Program, started in September last year has been completed.

On 1st September 2008 we set out to coppice 7000m on the Escley Brook and 2500m on the Honddu. In the end we managed to do 10,500m on the Escley, all of the Honddu and 1800m or so on the Dulas. We have the fencing to compete this Summer, which is vital but much less visually exciting.

It’s difficult to under-estimate the amount of work that was undertaken and what a huge achievement it is to have exceeded the original targets by such a staggering amount.  Obviously, praise must be heaped on everyone involved, not least, the people behind the scenes, who have continued to drive this project with such energy.

If you have ever fished the Monnow or any of the tributaries, or if you plan to in the future, I urge you to head over to the web site, download the membership form, and post it – together with your fifteen quid – to the address on the site.  This work cannot continue without your support.

Don’t put this on your ‘To do’ list, get your cheque book out and do it now!!!!


Wild Trout Trust Auction

Preparation for the 2009 Internet and Postal Auction is almost complete.  The Auction will run from 30th March to 8th April.

If you would like to support the fantastic work of this unique organisation you can download a cataloge here.


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