Our annual trip across the pond to Wales could not come quick enough as many of our competitions had been cancelled or postponed. We were waiting in eager anticipation to get all the gear packed up and the road trip started!
After the excellent fishing on Clywedog last year we were all excited to get back out on the water. When we reached our accommodation at Hafren Forest Bunkhouse we were greeted by Sarah and Darren who were excellent hosts for the week. We also had the privilege of sharing the accommodation with another team that was also competing in the same competition, the Renegades. What a great bunch of lads…even Pablo!
After a couple of ‘sociable’ beverages in our new surroundings and an interesting first night’s sleep in a bunkbed, we were well fed at breakfast and ready to make our way across the road to the fishery. With Russ, Gazza, and their team being as helpful as ever we all made our way onto the water with the 6 of us split into 3 boats.
The pairings had been chosen by this year’s Captain, Stan McCart. As with most of these practice days, we agreed to split the reservoir up and fish together as packs.
We started at the dam, mixing up the methods in each of the boats. In most cases, one angler was on top either twiddling tip lines or dries while the other with searching the depths pulling DI3s down to Booby Bashers!
At this early stage of the practice, it was not long to find out that all methods were catching fish, we just have to refine the methods with the locations and also consider the fishing pressure that the fishery was going to receive over the next few days.
My personal preference, where possible, is to fish dries, however, we had agreed that slow pulling on DI3s and DI5s was successful in the usual hotspots, particularly in the morning. We had several pulling flies that caught fish during the week, but it was red cormorant fished in the middle and a similar booby cormorant on the point that caught most of our fish. We were unable to get many fish on any fly on the bob, so it was down to each angler’s preference what that wanted to fish.
On match day 1, my boat partner and I decided to head up the lake away from the armada at the cages and dam areas in search of some quiet water. There was only a handful of boats that had thought the same. We were both pulling/twiddling black-coloured lures through the depths.
After a couple of hours with no fish to the boat, albeit several had been on and off, I took the plunge and loaded up the floater with a team of small dries. There were fish rising, but only sporadically and usually out of casting distance. My cast tied up with Soft Plus 6.6lb, consisted of Tony’s Flat Back Hopper on the bob, pearl butt Fiery Brown Bits in the middle, and a black cul on the point.
Each of these flies were well spaced out, approx. 5ft part. All my flies were small between sizes 14 and 16. By lunchtime, I had my first fish in the boat on the Flat Back. I find in the competition scene the first fish is always the hardest, and now after a later start, I could settle and try to make a bag in the remaining hours of the afternoon.
We continued to fish the shorelines around the bays waiting for the fish to look up and picking up a few risers here and there. It certainly wasn’t frantic fishing for us but I was happy to finish the day with seven all on dries. If only I had had a few pulling in the morning, I may have had a more credible bag. With fishing up the other end of the lake, we were unaware of how the likes of the cages and dam fished. It was not until weigh-in and speaking with the teammates when we found out that there were a few good bags caught twiddling basher lines.
After day 1, the Emerald Islanders were sitting in 5th position and not far from 4th or even 3rd, however 6th and 7th were far from us! It was all to play for on day 2.
I had decided that night that I was going to start day 2 on dries, as the rest of the team were pulling deep. My partner and I started at the cages this time and trying to shimmy between boats.
Only a handful of rods were fishing dries with most firing orange running lines to the horizon, including my boat partner. Amongst the fleet of boats and turbulent water, there were fish looking up, and within the first hour I had 2 fish in the boat and a couple of other offers.
I had continued with the same dries I finished with on day 1. Some of my teammates had seen me catch early on dries and having not a lot of successful pulling were happy to change tactics which paid off almost immediately. I left the cages area after a couple of drifts and continued the fish dries close the shorelines hoping fish were on the hunt for some terrestrials.
I was fortunate to pick up 11 fish over the day having had quite a few offers and losing a couple. It was now down to how the rest of the team did to see if we were going to move up or down on the leader board!
With both Stan and Greg having an equally good day on dries it was looking promising for us to at least remain in the 5th. Stan had a magnificent 2 days on the water catching 25 fish, mostly on dries and fishing 3rd top rod overall. Not bad for the 78-year-old! Well done Stan!
Team scores tallied up the Emerald Islander did move up the ranks to 3rd place behind the mighty Change Boys and ‘on fire’ Welsh Hawks! What a week and what a result from the team across the pond. This result will be hard to beat, but if Wayne and his team invite us over again, we will certainly try!
Special thanks again to Hafron Bunkhouse, Clywedog Fishery, Loop and of course Wayne for arranging a great friendly competition.