The Club Grayling fishing trip to Wales on 25 October was attended by Keith Allison; Bob Ayres; Geoff Darby; John Goldie; Martin James; John Poote and Bob Sharp. The Hotel Cammarch, our base has three miles of fishing rights on the River Irfon, split into three beats, upper middle and lower. It is a tributary of the River Wye. For those of us who had limited their fishing to the manicured Chalk streams  of the south would find a different type of river – a freestone river.

We had arranged to arrive mid afternoon to give us the chance to look at the area and locate the beats ready for the next day’s fishing. John, the hotel proprietor had organised  a guide (Oliver Birch who is a very well respected fishing guide who reports on river conditions for the Wye & Usk Passport Scheme.) to advise us on arrival. We should have made a note of his first comment – the river is up 69cms – 2’-4” in old money – from normal at this time of year; and to be very careful when wading – the underlying rock is very slippery and covered with lichen.

A walk along the river confirmed our worst fears, the river was a wild torrent and little maintenance had been carried out over many many years, limiting access from the steep banks by bank-side trees, shedding their leaves into the river. There was a lot of colour in the water also which did not bode well.

After an excellent meal we retired to the bar (which we had to ourselves as John had closed it to the locals) the exception being Gary Holt, who lives in the village, a fly fisherman and and fly tier who had offered to come in and give us some advice. Over a few pints he imparted a lot of useful information about the different pools and best flies for the conditions. He too told us that wading would be difficult and to take necessary care.

On the first day, Tuesday the river was just fishable, the middle beat, more so. After breakfast we set off for the day. Keith, Martin and Geoff to the lower beat, the two Bobs the middle beat and the Johns the upper beat. As predicted it was hard work, Keith took a tumble but managed to stop himself from full immersion but hurt is wrist in the process. Martin had the only success and managed a trout. Keith, Martin and Geoff  stopped on the way back and fished the town beat. Very easy access and looks as if it could be productive but in the conditions not so. On the middle beat the Bobs bravely waded quite deeply and were rewarded by Bob Sharp having two trout to the net. The upper beat produced the only Grayling caught by John Goldie (who was having a cup of tea and eating a bacon buttie at the time). John Poote fished the school pool, which under normal conditions is quite productive, but to no avail. Back for supper and a cosy chat in the bar afterwards. It has been A hard day’s night.

Rain on Tuesday night added to the water level and coloured the water even more. We kept the same partners as the day before and swapped beats. Despite a valiant fishing effort on Wednesday morning, most of us abandoned the fishery by the afternoon. On return John had organised tea/coffee and scones for us so we duly indulged ourselves and swopped stories. We had asked Gary to have dinner with us but he was unable but said he would join us later for a drink.

After dinner we discovered that Gary had set up in the conservatory to give us a workshop. He asked us for suggestions as to what we would like demonstrated and proceeded to give us a very interesting couple of hours on palmering, tying in wings and many other useful tips. Thank you Gary.

Most of departed on the Thursday morning leaving the two Bobs to brave another day. In spite of the river conditions it had been a great couple of days and a very social occasion made enjoyable by our kind host John and his wife Hilary, this is a new venture for them and we wish them every success.

Thanks to Bob Sharp for his input on the river conditions.
Gary Holt: