To hook a rudd

Pano of lake

I’ve been carting my rods around Europe for 2 weeks now, hoping to find a spot to fish at the same time as my slowly improving recently operated upon shoulder was not too sore.  My best chance was in Cornwall where I lined up a day on Drift Reservoir near Penzance but which fell through because the shoulder decided to have a bad day. That appeared to be the end and I had reason to contemplate whethere the 10 kilograms of essential fishing gear weighing down my suitcase might not have been the reason I wasn’t recovering.  Anyway, tonight I’m sitting at Heathrow en route to Australia and I can report an “accidental tourist” fishing experience.

Wye bridge

But first, some observations. I was walking over a bridge over the river Wye earlier in the week watching a heap of superb fish lying behind gently undulating weed and holding in the eddies in front of boulders, and readily rising for bits of pasty pastry I was dropping over the parapet some 5 metres above the water.  I reckon those fish would have taken anything but I watched carefully as the chap presenting his more sophisticated offerings just upstream remained fishless for the better part of an hour. Clearly I was getting the drift speed spot on for the pasty, where he was obviously failing. The largest fish I saw rise to my pasty fly was not a trout. When it rolled over on the surface I’m pretty sure it was either a mullet or a barbel. The next thing, about a dozen kayaks swung around the corner and came under the bridge side by side in groups of three or four. The steam from my upstream friend’s ears was clearly visible as he gestured vigorously with hand and rod, accompanied with some choice language. To understand this you need to know that there is a real battle going on between the paddle-power boaties and the fishermen, and it’s not pretty.  It’s not like we needed another excuse for not catching our quarry, but as far as I can tell this is pretty much the only reason that fish don’t rise these days. The kayaks passed; the fish sitting behind the undulating weed hadn’t budged and I can tell you it was a really tough decision to sacrifice the last bit of my pasty crust to complete the experiment and prove they would still rise despite the upstream commotion and the flotilla of yaks. And they did.

The River Wye at Chepstow Castle

The River Wye at Chepstow Castle

I mentioned in a previous accidental tourist blog the River Wye, Atlantic salmon run. As a young man I joined my mates on the walls of Chepstow Castle 70  or 80 metres above the water on a sheer cliff to watch the tide turn, and see the salmon run on the small tidal bore that came up the river on the castle bend.  The water is brown, and the fish navigate by swimming in straight lines until they reach shallow water where they turn through 90 degrees and swim off again, zig zagging their way upstream.  As they hit the bank, poachers with giant scoop nets on long poles rush from the tree line to scoop up their prize and bolt for cover before the bailiffs and police emerge from the same tree lines in pursuit of the poachers.  The time they brought dogs the poaching settled down for a while afterwards.

The Wye Valley from the Kymin

The Wye Valley from the Kymin

So back to my accidental tourist experience.  We drove up to the Kymin, a memorial to Admiral Boscawen, and other Admirals of the fleet. It’s not completely clear why a Welsh mountain top should have such a monument but its a great place to see the Wye Valley as it runs through Monmouth.  Anyway, as we were winding our way back down I spotted a sign that said “fly fishing” – insisted on a U turn, and drove into a caravan park and trout fishery.  There, three muddy ponds sat apparently containing trout to 10 pounds.  We negotiated an hours fishing – did I mention we were on the way to the airport – for 10 pounds with two bacon rolls thrown in as we now weren’t going to have time to stop for lunch.

Well, we flogged those muddy puddles mercilessly for an hour, competing with George and Mildred on the sunken pontoon, and the chap who’d claimed the seat on the dam wall.  All I can say is God bless Australia and may we never be this desperate.

Now we did see some trout. A 2 lber swam up and down the bank looking for somewhere to die and as if everything wasn’t already stacked up against us – including 6 inch visibility – a couple of fish were nailing dragonsflies in flight – you’ve got to love dragon fly feeders.

Anyway, it was a bit of fun, and we caught a rudd – we think. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the pics of our adventure.  Tight tippets all, Steve (

The hut