Saturday, 10 September 2011

The River Edw, Wales


The Edw is a small, fast flowing stream, hemmed in by impressive oak trees and channelled by forest covered hills, imposing cliffs and rich-green pasture land. The surrounding valleys and quaint village of Aberedw are steeped in history. The air is clean and the remoteness uplifting. It is a bewitching place, making the fishing experience that much more exquisite.


Being a mountain stream, the water flows over broken bedrock and loose stone. On arrival, looking upstream from the stone bridge, Laszlo and I were relieved that the river was running with sufficient volume for a decent crack at a day’s fishing. We had stopped to look at the River Arrow along the way and were shocked to see how low it was running, with barely enough water to dip a toe in. Only a matter of miles separates the headwaters of these two rivers but the west draining Edw appears to have come off better than the east bound Arrow in the summer drought conditions. Looking over the bridge we spotted a number of small fish and promisingly, a fish rose to feed on the surface whilst we watched.


I tied on a Black Klinkhammer #18 and was surprised when it failed to induce any takes. This fly has singlehandedly accounted for more fish than any other this season, and tied with a bright red post I find them very easy to see in turbulent water. After a while, I tied on a #22 bead head PTN to the hook shank of the dry, “klink and dink” style, and was again a little surprised that this usually successful combination failed to produce a result when trundled past the visible fish. The water was so clear that fish could easily be spotted, their shadows on the bedrock a give-away. I replaced the PTN with a larger bead head Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear, increasing the length of tippet between flies to ensure the nymph was fished deep enough, and very soon the nymph attracted the interests of a trout. This was quickly followed by two more hard fighting trout from the same pool, the best of 9”.


Some of the trees lining the river bank are just starting to turn a shade of yellow, a sign of the season. With each gust of wind, those trees would give up some of their leaves. They would fall gently to the surface of the water where they would become a snag-in-waiting for the dry fly. The trees were also alive with the energetic rustling of squirrels. I hadn’t seen a single squirrel all season until my recent visit to the Bideford Brook in Gloucestershire. Just as I am trying to get in as much trout fishing before the impending season’s end, the squirrels are focussed on increasing the size of their food larder for the coming winter.


At places, the river has slow moving pools of surprising depth. It was from these pools that the majority of fish were taken on the nymph. The takes were extremely subtle and often imperceptible – I guess there is no real urgency in slow moving water for a fish to waste energy on a fast, savage take. This is not to say that the dry fly was ignored. I caught my largest fish of the day, a good 12” brown trout, on an olive Klinkhammer from a very slow moving, shadowy pool flanked by a cliff and overhanging trees. The Edw’s brown trout are typically densely spotted and have prominent cherry red markings on their adipose fins. The majority of them behaved like rainbow trout once hooked, leaping from the water on several occasions in their lust for freedom. By day’s end, 15 trout had come to hand (discounting possibly the smallest fish – at 3” - I have ever caught on the fly). Whilst most were in the 6” to 8” range, four fish stood out at 9”, 10”, 10½” and 12”.




Laszlo and I also witnessed a pretty unusual sight. I had been attempting to cast beneath a low hanging tree branch to where a fish had been rising in a back eddy against the cliffs. My cast was just a little too long and too high, and the nymph swung over the tree branch like a pendulum. The dry fly (connected to the nymph by a length of tippet) settled on the water on my side of the tree branch where it remained stationary despite the strong current. The nymph, a bead head GRHE, was left dangling about 2 feet above the water. As I was about to try flick the line from the tree branch a trout of about 10 inches leaped clear out of the water in an attempt to catch the nymph! Unfortunately, it didn’t succeed and I was left wondering what would have happened had it managed the feat. Possibly a snapped tippet but boy, what a way that would have been to catch a trout!



This beat, together with the Clettwr River, make up my two favourite experiences of the Wye and Usk roving voucher scheme to date. They are both tumbling mountain streams and I see the Aberedw beat of the Edw as a larger version of the Clettwr.


A castle once stood at Aberedw, believed to date back to the Norman conquest of south Wales in 1093. Today only ruins remain but from 1282 it would have been a symbol of English authority over the conquered Welsh lands. It was at Aberedw that Llywelyn ‘the Last’ was killed and beheaded by the forces of the English King, Edward the First. Llywelyn was the last independent ruler of Wales and his head was put up on a gate at the Tower of London where it is said to have remained for 15 years. Ever since, the heir-apparent to the English throne has held the title ‘Prince of Wales.’ A local legend exists that Llywelyn hid in caves at Aberedw and escaped the English by reversing the shoes on his horse, only to be captured near the River Irfon and killed. Whatever the circumstances of his death, it signalled the end of any serious Welsh resistance in the immediate period. To me, the rich sense of history adds to the overall experience and enjoyment of fishing the Edw.

Location

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6 comments:

  1. Justin,

    Some very nice fish,from such a small river. A 12'' wild brown trout is big almost anywere? You were lucky to get the level right. My river is in an dreadful state now, and critical we get some proper winter rain.

    Do you tie your black 18s Klink on proper Partridge Klink hooks?

    A nice piece, well done.

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  2. Hi Richard. A 12" wild trout from a small stream is always something to celebrate! It looks like some rain is finally on the way. I hope it reaches us both! My Klinks are shop bought - I'm hoping to work on my fly tying in the closed season. Thanks for commenting.

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  3. Some lovely chunky fish there, Justin.

    Certainly seem to get your moneys worth with your passport. I reckon I'll give it a go next season if I can get out enough.

    Great post.

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  4. Thanks Chris, the passport scheme is great.

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  5. 10 and 12 inch Browns are quite a reward from such a tight location. Love the bit of history at the end. Enjoyed the entire post.

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  6. Kevin, thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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