Concentric Circles on the Monnow
The film Powers of Ten was visually striking the first time I saw it as a lad, it was filmed in the year I was born and released in 1977 – the original idea was taken from a book from the 50’s; these days Google Earth drags the concept into the 21st Century, offering interactive globe-trotting with an amazing level of accessibility to mapped info. Like many people I use it to assess fishing possibilities by studying topography and many other factors. These days it’s simple to look at the available information just as easily as playing a computer game. Often the first visit to a venue is one of scoping territory at eye level after a virtual map reading exercise, assessing possibilities for fishing that follow on from studying on-line info is a great benefit of this semi-virtual day and age. As the last trip to the Monnow was one of overview and introduction in the old style, via esteemed hosts, with little strategic decision-making involved on my part (and the author’s eyes suffering somewhat from an ability to focus on the job in hand for some reason), the return visit was one that allowed a better gaining of bearings and scrutiny of the details at a more controlled and leisurely pace. This trip was more like the ones I would usually undertake under my own steam, although the return visit to the Monnow was enabled courtesy of a generous offer of a guest ticket by Dave Smith (thanks Dave). It transpired to be a bit like the return to the scene of a traffic accident, taken in order to piece together the events from a rather hazy recollection of the last episode, we even took a few wrong turns before finding the desired spot. Bickering over map reading is all part of motor touring fun; Mrs Splash and I are masters of spiteful direction related criticisms, we’ve been rehearsing for a fair while now over the years all over the planet, this outing was a welcome excuse for The Splashes to wrangle a Friday afternoon away from the office. Funny how when on your own you can drive straight to a desired spot but with a map reader you can tour at least half as much again in the area before getting to where you want to go? This time I was able to ponder the cartography at leisure the evening before visiting and take in the full extent of the waters I have yet to venture into within the Monnow catchment; we could have gone elsewhere on this visit but as we were in a leisurely mood, familiar territory seamed to be a more relaxing prospect – well anyway, it was when we eventually found it!
We had somehow managed to conjure up a piece of summertime idealism from a wobbly start; the phone just wouldn’t stop ringing back at base in the morning but we exited the house soon enough with time still on our side, the children were benefiting from a week away in Charmouth with the grand parents, work had conspired to keep us from going with them but today we were due some time off and the Monnow offered a perfect venue for a hasty exit. Dave had suggested we could park behind the Bridge Inn at Garway; we found the spot he described but as we were after a venue for a picnic and fishing, I was feeling a little uncertain of what was on offer on that stretch and Mrs Splash was after a relaxing setting, so we stuck with the location introduced to me previously. Re-visiting a spot I’ve fished before is something I like to do sometimes in order to take in the subtleties passed over on the previous visit, seek out the opportunities missed and compare the differences that that particular days conditions might impose. It was a glorious day, a windows down drive at 26 degrees (according to the car) around Gloucester and across to the Monnow was like driving through warmer countries, we parked up and made our way to a lovely spot on top of some bubbling rapids. Very bright conditions and low water made for tricky fishing, I discovered that the bigger fish were elsewhere (or at least they were for me), the rises were few and far between and in slightly odd and unpredictable mid river locations compared to the textbook style rises of the last visit but I managed to find a fair few small to medium fish, mainly in faster water; a few came out from under trees as the day cooled off later in the afternoon but none were of any scale (as a number of colleagues have been reporting) but I’m not complaining, it was another great day on the Monnow; however, I am going to have to visit again and try to increase the proportions of the catch.
Mrs Splash was content to read a book next to some rapids for a few hours:
On this trip I had a Fosters of Ashbourne split cane 8ft #5 to play with named ‘ The Champion’, probably last used in the 50’s and judging by the condition perhaps used only once, if at all (?):
The first of the day had amazing markings:
Lots of little circles were clearly visible, if a little minute, popping like corn in the shallow water next to the picnic spot. On closer inspection we focussed on perfect little rise forms – lovely little surface pings, like little vignettes of the ones we fly fishers usually look for. Fascinating … and some of the little ones were jumping clean out the water, with a scoop of the net just a couple were captured from the thousands of little fish flipping away in the shallows:
The last of the day was typical of a fair few small but healthy fish that were taken in between:
Then with no need to rush home, we visited the Monnow fly fisher’s local, The Crown at Longtown (image from Golden Valley Art ):
More nectar delivered in the form of Wye Valley Brewery ‘Butty Bach’ accompanied by an excellent plate of gastro pub style seafood pasta, far better food than the understated country pub chalk board menue might have suggested, Monnow socilaites will be shocked to notice that Mrs Splash is drinking at a faster pace!:
Tight Lines, Splash