Senior Moments

Senior Moments

Tracy&James | Sunday, 17 April 2022

Last weekend’s BFCC casting day was bookended by two fishing trips for Tracy and myself, the first to the river Wye followed, by a trip to the river Usk on the day after the competition. Being as we are now generally having to stay overnight when we attend the various BFCC days, having relocated to North Wales, we are doing our best to combine casting with some fishing.
To say the drive to the beat we fished on the Wye was a bit rough (for a normal car) was an understatement. The farmer who owns the land along the bank of the river had ploughed his field so there was less than a car width of grass left. This meant we had to drive with one side of the car in the ruts, the middle of the car straddling a trench and the near-side on the grass. There was one particular alarming crunching, grinding sound that had us convinced that we had pulled the exhaust off – luckily this wasn’t the case.

The beat itself was great, a mix of riffles, glides, boulder strewn rapids and deep slow pools.  I left Tracy with our host and went exploring upstream as they headed down from where we parked.  I dropped into the river, quite literally as it was a high bank, at a point below an overhanging bush under which I’d seen the first fish rise of the day.  The wind was blowing quite hard downstream and I instantly thought the task of getting the fly to this fish would be far easier with a #5 rather than the #3 with which I’d armed myself, but in a temporary drop in the wind speed I got the fly ahead of the fish and promptly missed the take when a nice sized trout engulfed it.  A hatch of March Browns brought a number of fish to the surface to give away their positions and a swap to a suitable fly (I’d started with my default river dry – a drab grey Klink) saw me land a couple of really beautiful Wye browns and a grayling later in the day.  Unfortunately my photographer was at the other end of the beat so I’ll just have to rely on my memories to recall these fish.

The trip to the Usk started in a quite surreal manner.  As Tracy was getting prepared she announced that she’d lost her cap, complete with magnifiers that are now essential for both of us in order to thread eyes and tie knots.  She was insistent that it was in her hand and then she moved some stuff around in the car (as she does – quite a lot!) and then it was gone.  This then prompted a search of the car, and then the area surrounding the car, underneath the car, on top of the car and under everyone else’s car just in case it had blown there (it was windy again – a pity we didn’t have the same conditions for the casting competitions).  Then Tracy recalled that we’d been visited by a friendly dog that was out for a walk accompanied by its owner.  This Old English Sheepdog (or something that looked like one) was very happy to see a bunch of fly fishers getting ready and came over for patting and a tickle behind the ears.  However, Tracy now suspected that this was a confidence-trick and the dog was in fact a cunning cap snaffler.  In fact as we walked to the beat (Tracy in a spare BFCC cap) I felt I had to mount a defence of the accused dog as Tracy would have had it tried and convicted (in its absence) before an artificial fly had hit the water.  It was only when we stopped walking and sat on the river bank to select a fly that the mystery was solved, Tracy found the cap was somewhere near her right knee, inside her waders!

As with the Wye, the stretch of the Usk was also very picturesque.  It was a warmer day and a hatch of Grannombuilt throughout the afternoon, although largely ignored by the trout.  This prompted a discussion about why this is not an uncommon experience, with lots of social media posts commenting on similar happenings on other rivers i.e. large Grannom hatches that are ignored.  Many commentators suggest this is because trout just don’t like the taste of them, but I’m not sure I’m buying this.  Firstly, I don’t know if trout have the ability to ‘taste’ i.e. do they possess taste receptors and the brain power to process the signal (although I haven’t really spent much time looking for information about this).  Secondly, trout tend to swallow food whole, based on autopsy (spooning) results I’ve seen, so to me there’s not much time for them to ‘savour’ and appreciate anything on the way down.  That all said, they do clearly avoid certain items – for example when have you seen a trout take an apparently easy meal that a pond skater would make?  So I don’t know, maybe they’ve decided by the shape that they’re not food.

I’d like to report that I also caught some trout from the Uskbut I can’t, I blanked.  It’s not that I didn’t get takes either – I got lots but somehow managed to miss every one of them.  I’m not sure why this happened, especially on some of them which I’d described as ‘sitters’, but it did.  It’s made me determined to go back and settle the score sometime soon though.

Have a great week,