The Accidental Tourist

PNG Trout

My work as a fisheries consultant means I travel a lot, especially in the sub equatorial Pacific, where not surprisingly I don’t see much in the way of trout. That doesn’t mean they’re not there. Papua New Guinea (for example) has trout farms in the highlands and rainbow trout are  common enough in mountain lakes and streams so they say – catching a PNG trout is on the list for a weekend when the tuna can spare me.

In my last  blog I was on the River Wye bordering England and Wales and busting for a fish.  On this trip I’d made a conscious decision to leave my rods behind because I was long overdue a family visit and didn’t want to be tempted to forego time with mum in favour of one of the excellent Cornish reservoir fisheries. And tempted I would have been, especially once I’d found the car keys. In one attempt to scratch the itch I hiked to a river I fished as a kid. Picture perfect

A tributary of the River Fal, the Ladock River has brown trout, and used to have a run of sea trout (and may well still have). I once caught a landlocked salmon after sneaking into an old quarry dammed as a town water supply and gravity fed from the river – so I assume a run of salmon as well although I never saw an adult in the river. The only real difference I noticed was that where I once fished now had a private sign and barbed wire on the gate. And not at all far from here I caught my first trout on a fly, a Peter Ross, drifted through the top of the current into a pool – a big fat brownie.

After so many years away, the memories from this trip were shaping up to be “memories of memories”. All the old adventures recounted by old friends and family, some of which, to be honest I’d prefer to have left in the shadows. But then, along came an opportunity.  Could I go to Brussels for a few days work on the way back to Australia ? Suddenly I had three unaccounted for days which I rapidly partitioned. Yes, I could now go with my brother to the Three Counties Show, and yes I would be there for my sister-in-laws birthday BBQ and yes, yes, I had a completely free day and I wasn’t going to be far from Wales! And so I got my day’s fishing. Usk River bridge

A day on the River Usk, a 100 km long river that starts in the Brecon Beacons mountain range and ends in the Severn Estuary.

A powerful mid size river with salmon, sea trout, and brown trout. It was superb. I paid $50 for a day ticket to fish a kilometre of river, fished some excellent tough-to-wade water, and was brilliantly supported by Frank Williams ( who gave me the “introduction to Czech nymphing for idiots” – so now I don’t need to read the book.  The fish were feisty and plentiful, all wild, and the biggest was well over 2 lb, which for rivers under a fair bit of pressure is excellent.Usk brown

There’s a lot of information about the Usk on the website  including a booking site for beats. The foundation website is such a familiar story. Degraded habitats and failing stocks, community action to manage riparian vegetation, pollution, and stock access, and some great results.  I see so much of this going on in Europe, the US and Canada and I’ve seen some great work in Australia too – but in general I think they’re way ahead of us.  For example, in Europe they pay farmers to undertake land “stewardship”.  My brother has been involved in a “high level stewardship” program on the 200+ hectare college farm at Herefordshire College’s Holme Lacy campus – which he runs. And we walked every morning through the farm land neighbouring his home where the creeks were all fenced, trees lie in the fields where they fall, new plantings are everywhere, and thinned timber is stacked against hedges into “hibernariums” – badgers, rabbits, pheasants, woodpeckers, squirrels in abundance – it was like a bloody episode of Watership Down! More about this for anyone interested

So now I’m in Brussels doing some tuna work and have already checked out the trout fly fishing in Belgium websites. I thought I’d organised an evening rise on La Molignée but don’t seem to be able to find a willing partner prepared to drive me back on the “right” side of the road after dark from an hour out of town.  Fly Fishing in Belgium

But I’m still looking and have a “desperate man” request out to Sebastien Den Doncker from fly fishing in Belgium so who knows, I may yet get a chance to catch one of these amazing grayling – if not a trout.

Tight tippets all


(images from PNG Fisheries and Sebastien Den Doncker)

P.s. interested in a day’s winter fly fishing by boat on Lake Eucumbene or Tantangara?