June 2012'There's no fucking fish in there!' Barked a woman in her forties as she strutted up the pavement.
'You're a rubbish fisherman!' Shouted a teenager from a passing car window as he threw a bread roll and the driver tooted the horn. My friend Dan responded with a two fingered salute, I put my hood up in case I saw anyone I knew.
Later, another hilarious fellow would shout (from a packed minibus), 'I'm coming back with my maggots tonight!' Much to the amusement of his drinking buddies on the bus.
We were fishing near Merthyr Tydfil town centre on a Saturday afternoon in June and the fish were concentrated on the far edge of a slow shallow pool, feeding on large dark olive duns. There were several splashy rises from smaller fish interspersed with the tell tale sips of larger more efficient feeders.
I was using my 11ft #3 weight rod, employing leader to hand tactics with an olive klinkhammer type fly. After watching Dan return a couple of good sized trout -and landing a decent fish of my own- I noticed a small sip further out into the pool (about 8 metres directly opposite me). The fish lay in less than 1.5 metres of water and rose every minute or so. Not risking spooking the target in the shallow clear water, I remained in the same spot. Ideally I would have moved downstream, but it is far easier to ensure drag free drift for longer using leader to hand techniques, so this was not critical.
Another rise, I waited until what felt like the right moment and cast well upstream of where the dimpled rise form had been. Nothing. Then, another small rise to a beatis dun, accompanied by that barely audible sound. I waited a little longer this time and made my second cast, a tiny sip and (yes!) the fish was on. After a few strong runs and a very brief photo opportunity, this slim early summer fish was safely returned.
|Caught near Merthyr town centre|
This is typical of how the summer fishing on the Taff unfolded. I often accompanied Dan (an almost ever-present figure on the upper river), surface feeding fish could usually be located and I experimented with leader to hand techniques (with varying degrees of success).
A reluctant reintroductionI first became a member of Merthyr Tydfil Angling Association in 1986 and have been an on-off member ever since. I have retained constant membership for the the last ten years, but in this time, I have concentrated on fishing club beats on the Usk and Talybont Reservoir. Prior to last year, I hadn't ventured onto the upper Taff since before I left home, aged eighteen.
|Last cast trout|
A river of contradictionsThe Taff is a river of contradictions; dirty but clean, urban yet wild, neglected and thriving. An ugly lovely river favoured by many, but not for everyone.
|The rural Taff Fechan - a tributary of the main river|