When the trout season starts, wading restrictions on the river are lifted and a renewed sense of freedom accompanies every angler, as they can finally get to all those pockets of fish holding water that have been out of reach during the winter months!
A beautiful Brook Olive in early summer...Dry Fly time!
As the weather warms and the fly hatches increase in frequency and intensity, fishing with dry flies becomes more productive. Of course, the Ewenny has a Mayfly season too, and frantic sport can be experienced if you can get the timing right. The river’s Mayfly season seems to be a fairly prolonged affair, with steady numbers of dreadnought sized Mays lumbering into the air in modest quantities over several weeks, rather than a brief, blizzard-like hatch which happens on some rivers.
Aside from the pre-requisite Mayfly patterns, fish in the Ewenny respond well to a broad range of dry flies but in particular Klinkhammers and Parachute Adams, in a range of colours which imitate the current hatch. Size 14-16 seems to be the average, but it can pay to go a lot smaller in the low-water summer months when the trout are nervy and the water is slow. Black Gnat patterns can be effective almost year-round. Leggy black Hawthorn Fly imitations work well in the open section adjacent to the fields upstream of the carpark when the flies swarm in the spring. Aphids are effective under the trees in late summer, but anything with a natural, straggly and buggy appearance will initiate a response when there’s a rise happening.
A good 'buggy' dryfly works well on the Ewenny
Tippet needs to be thoroughly degreased when fishing the smoother water to keep tell-tale crinkles off the surface film and to ensure the leader sinks out of sight of wary fish. Delicate presentation and good turnover, ensuring the fly lands softly and well away from the flyline, will certainly maximise chances. A cast upstream to a lie or rising fish needs to drop the fly three or four feet further up than the fish’s apparent position, ideally so that the fly is brought downstream over the fish without the flyline spooking it.
That said, the Trout in the Ewenny can at times be quite aggressive feeders and you will find the Grayling often more than obliging and very forgiving of the odd mis-delivery! Make sure you have some floatant powder with you and apply it regularly to keep your dry flies from sinking.
Whilst dry flies seem the archetypal favourite during the spring and summer, the fact is that fishing a nymph is extremely effective. It may at times lack the charm of dry fly fishing, but it is every bit as exciting and can pull up some superb fish. Generally speaking, a small size 14-16 tungsten headed brown pheasant tail pattern is deadly. Again, fish upstream on a 7ft leader and using a Hi-vis orange braided loop at the end of the flyline (smeared with Mucilin to help it float) to act as a bite indicator.
New Zealand indicators work well too, helping you to set the depth of your fly's passage.
Summer nymphing has accounted for some superb fish
Casts can be kept short; keep the line straight and retrieve the slack smoothly as the current delivers it back towards you – this will keep any takes as visible as possible (betrayed by twitches, stutters or stops on the indicator) as well as ensuring quick contact when striking. Speaking of which, avoid striking upwards – keep it to the side, in the direction the nymph is travelling in, and make it a small jerk; if you’re not familiar with nymph fishing, often what you see on the bite indicator is not fish, but rather the hook bumping over stones and detritus on the river bed… but strike anyway...
9 times out of 10, it won’t be a fish, but if you give a little strike at every indication, then you’ll get the fish on the 10th one!
With either method, cover every pocket of water; it is very easy to assume that small patch of water is devoid of quarry, but you will be surprised at what can almost magically appear! Move slowly and quietly upstream and exercise patience, don’t be in a hurry to move forward. Your movement, no matter how careful, may spook fish as this is a small, clear river after-all, and you will be in close proximity to them, but waiting stock-still for a while is often all that’s needed to allow them to settle again. Enjoy the surroundings and the peace whilst you wait – there are few more charming rivers in which to do so!
Click for Winter Grayling Fishing...