I had little charge in my iPhone and forgot my camera and so please excuse the absence of photographs in this entry. Probably just as well...
Middle ageI have previously fished the river (quite unsuccessfully) for winter grayling (no reflection on the river I'm sure), and so I was keen to catch a few Monnow browns on the dry fly. I met Morgan and Mark below Kentchurch at 3.00pm on Friday 10th May (my thirty fifth birthday). They had already moved a few fish on olive emerger patterns and Mark generously showed me around the Garway beat. I elected to fish a slow pool about half way down.
There were a few small olives hatching and we noticed the occasional large dark olive and brook dun. Upon first inspection, there were no surface feeding fish, but I cast blind in order to reacquaint myself with an 8 foot #4 rod that has not seen much use. It was a relief to be on the water again as I hadn’t fished since moving house nearly a fortnight ago.
As I approached the faster water at the head of the pool I noticed what appeared to be a small dimpled rise. As I watched I could not distinguish another but cast above the spot anyway. It was difficult to make out the CDC plume of my emerger, but second cast I observed it being sipped a 10 inch brown trout. Over the next hour, I managed two similar fish using the same method. A good start.
It was then time to find out why the Monnow Social was named as such and we were off to Longtown where twenty odd fishermen camp in a field (thanks for the lend of the tent pegs Dan Colloby) . When we arrived many of the old hands were already suitably refreshed and I felt immediately at home. It was a good night and I finally fell over one of the guy ropes outside my tent (apologies for the bent tent peg Dan Colloby) well after midnight. Being a light sleeper, I was awake most of the night, serenaded by the snoring (and other noises) of my fellow socialites.
The morning couldn’t come quickly enough and I was very pleased to find myself drawn on a beat behind the Bridge Inn, Kentchurch. I fished with a new friend, Vince, and we had an excellent and challenging day; the highlights being an 18 inch out of season grayling and Vince missing takes when turning around to talk to me on three separate occasions!
On the day, the fly life was sparse on this beat and, throughout the morning and early afternoon, there were few rising fish. By 2.00pm a number of brook duns drifted either side of the main flow and the fish responded emphatically. I have read that these flies tend not to hatch in open water and thus, are of limited significance to the fly fisherman. Some of my experiences on the Monnow and Usk contradict this. On a recent Usk outing, the fish took these duns in preference to others (I’m very confident they were not march browns).
That evening, I was feeling tired and managed to get to bed around 2.00am after an expensive auction and impromptu sing along session with Mark (a superb blues guitarist) and others. I can assure the reader, it was worse than it sounds!
Father and son
The next morning I wangled a session with father and son team, David and Morgan. We took a few fish on nymphs early on and, as the Monnow has been successfully improved, I lost many flies to the ‘submerged habitat’.
Despite the strong downstream wind, by mid-afternoon, we located a number of surface feeding fish at the tail of a pool and took turns to catch them well into the late afternoon.
A highly sociable conclusion to a thoroughly social weekend! Thank you very much Monnow Rivers Association, I hope you’ll invite me back.