Riverside Walks

Riverside Walks

Tracy&James | Thursday, 30 April 2020

Next week is my birthday, a big one! Tracy and I had big plans about how we were going to celebrate with a great fishing trip, but these have all been blown out of the water with recent events. The last ‘decadal’ birthday we celebrated was Tracy’s – we coincided this with a 2 week trip to Christmas Island with a further week’s recovery in Hawaii. Her birthday was spent targeting bonefish, triggers and GTs in the beautiful lagoon (I’m sure we’ll have notes somewhere on the actual day’s fishing), followed by fresh sashimi and baked breadfruit on our return to the lodge. In the evening we had a wonderful meal of local produce along with a few beers, Tracy was also presented with a hand-crafted necklace and bracelet made from shells collected from the shoreline by the staff of the lodge.

In contrast, my last ‘big’ birthday was spent being pummelled with horizontal hail stones on the shores of Rutland water.  As you can imagine this may have been mentioned once or twice over the last ten years, so this year’s birthday was going to make amends – until Covid-19 came along that is.  It now looks like the day will be spent at home, probably getting drunk.

When things get back to normal and the BFCC meetings resume, I’ll be competing in a new age group.  This gives me a new set of records to target and a great excuse for being beaten by the younger competitors.  

The weather has been great this week and Tracy and myself have been using our exercise walks to get to know our local rivers.  We’ve found a short-cut to the closest one, the Elwy, immediately down the steep bank opposite our house.  There is a kind of path carved out, but I’m fairly sure this was done by sheep – as such, I don’t think it is passable on foot in anything other than sustained dry weather, unless you don’t mind sliding down it on your arse.  However, once at the bottom we did find some nice stretches of the river, though we also found signs of poaching.

When I was very young I used to visit the Elwy quite a bit as we have family friends who have a house almost on its banks.  I’d look forward to our visits and I was always very eager to get out fish spotting.  As North Wales rivers go, the Elwy is pretty clear and usually quite shallow.  Spotting brown trout used to be easy, even without any glasses – I guess my eyesight was pretty good back then.  It wouldn’t take a very long walk to see a number of trout in the 8 – 10 inch range, probably just the few hundred yards up and down from our friend’s house. 

These day’s our walk is probably a good couple of miles and we’ve been doing this almost daily for a month.  It’s sad to report that I haven’t seen a single sizeable trout in that time.  There are still trout in the river, the fantastic weather has brought the spring fly-life out and with it rising fish.  However these are all ~3 inch fish.  This gives me some hope in that there must be a breeding population to produce these tiddlers, unless of course they are all sea trout waiting to smolt.  I also suspect the bigger browns that inhabited the parts of the river that I used to frequent as a child have proven to be too easy a target for the poachers.

The other river, the Clwyd, is quite different in nature.  It certainly flows more water than the Elwy and has yet to clear despite a month of fine weather.  So far we’ve seen exactly one fish rise in all the walks we’ve had there.  There seems to be a lot of fresh bank erosion (the river was very high for a sustained period earlier in the year) and whether that has contributed to the general murkiness, along with the very sandy nature of the substrate, I don’t know.  Again it looks like a lovely stretch, but I need to research whether it has a head of resident trout or just summer tourists.  Again, I hope it’s not been ruined by an unscrupulous few.

Today’s pictures are of beats on both rivers that are walkable from our house.  The smell as you walk down to either one is intense with wild garlic at this time of year – we should look up some recipes to use it.

I hope everyone is keeping well,