Sunday, 25 September 2011

The River Onny, Shropshire

With the trout fishing season closing this coming Friday, I was anxious for one final fishing trip to mark the end of my first full season exploring the rivers of Mid Wales and the neighbouring English counties. Last week, I received an invitation from a fellow West Midlands based fly fisherman which offered me the chance to do just that. I accepted the offer with little hesitation and met Spencer for a day fishing the River Onny on the outskirts of the small town of Craven Arms, a one change, 1 hour 45 minute train journey from Birmingham.

Photo courtesy of Spencer

The Onny is a tributary of the River Teme in south west Shropshire. Flowing close to the town and the busy Shrewsbury-Ludlow road, it’s understandably not the most tranquil setting I have experienced for a day’s river fishing this season. There were a fair number of dog walkers along the banks, and as customary, at least one was throwing large rocks and sticks for his dog to collect in perhaps the most promising looking pool of the entire section. It shows how spoilt I’ve been this season to have felt a little “crowded out” by the presence of a few dog walkers! Having said that, the Onny is a stream with an interesting mix of riffle and deeper pools, and a good head of wild trout, grayling and chub, making for varied and interesting fishing.

Photo courtesy of Spencer

At the risk of my posts sounding a little repetitious, the river was the lowest both Spencer and the local farmer had ever seen it. A good spell of rain is needed to flush our local rivers clean and raise the water level.

Spencer has many years’ experience fishing the Onny and he seemed to know it like the back of his hand. When I mentioned that I had never caught a chub before, he confidently said, “don’t worry, you will get one today.” It was a prediction which soon came true when we came across a shoal of chub and trout. Being low to the water, I couldn’t see them, but high on the bank and concealed behind trees Spencer could spot them and call out their location. I cast out an olive Klinkhammer to the shoal and within seconds a gentle swirl engulfed the fly. I struck successfully and played a species guessing game for a few seconds as the fish clung to the riverbed, eventually surfacing and revealing strange orange fins and silver diamond-shaped scales. A chub! I was ecstatic to catch a new species on the fly.

Triple whammy part 1: chub

Triple whammy part 2: grayling

Triple whammy part 3: the largest trout of the day at10"

In amongst a total haul of 10 fish including 8 brown trout I landed the full house – a triple whammy of trout, grayling and chub - making this a memorable and fitting end to the season. Exactly half the fish fell to an olive Klinkhammer, whilst the rest fell to a collection of weighted and unweighted nymphs. 

Spencer with a trout

My thanks to Spencer for introducing me to the Onny and showing me a few of its secrets.


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  1. A good day Justin and a nice mix of species.

    I used to catch Chub as a lad on the Trent near Muskham on boiled shrimp and the fish were HUGE! No skill involved as they'd just suck 'em down one after the other.

    Much more skill and grace with a fly. Well done.

  2. yep, there's some Chub over here in German streams too, I also finished my season with the same trio of fish species in one day. Check out the post here...
    Now the Pike flyfishing season begins I believe Justin!

  3. Chris: Spencer assured me mine was the smallest chub in the shoal... the bigger ones seemed a lot more fussy than the Trent variety! Perhaps I should tie up a boiled shrimp pattern for next time?

    Nick: well done on the Bavarian grayling and chub!