One of my problems is that I have far too many angling tickets, and I have to justify in my own mind the continued renewal of them. Therefore, on that basis I decided to visit a new venue on a ticket that I haven’t really used as much as I should have this year. And so, off west I headed into Wales to fish the River Ithon. The Ithon is a tributary of the Wye and as well as being a game river, also contains dace and chub, with the latter being the reason I visited.
I had checked the weather forecast for a few days prior to the day of fishing, and apart from the odd shower, it was quite dry. On the way I passed over the Severn, the Teme and a number of other smaller rivers as I made my way into the Principality. Every one looked in good condition – certainly for what I had planned, which was to fish a stick float during the day and then switch to a quiver tip rod as it got dark.
However, as soon as I set eyes on the Ithon itself I knew that I had to dispense with all my original plans. There had obviously been a very local downpour in the night, and consequently the river was a dark brown colour, and racing through at such a speed that if I had known what I was confronted with I wouldn’t have gone. There is something to be said for the EA river report hotline, particularly when travelling long distances! We live and learn…
Although it was an overcast and wintry day, the area itself was very appealing. The river was accessed via a narrow country road, then a farm track before a decent walk to the actual water. And as such there wasn’t even the sound of a distant car to interfere with the odd bird that broke the silence. Definitely to my liking! Some venues are like Merry Hill shopping centre at January sale time – which is not for me at all.
Walking the river, I was limited as to how far I could actually go. The rains had caused a small brook to back up, and so with three feet of water instead of the usual three inches, unless I wanted to wade across it then my natural downstream boundary limit was two fields. But I was determined to make the best of what I had and so found what looked like a decent enough peg where I could fish a bait just off the main flow of the river as it raced through.
Initially I was plagued by leaves being washed down in the current, but as the river began to drop, it became easier. Even a fall of one inch made an appreciable difference and as the level continued to fall (it dropped by about eight inches overall during the session) then a lot more water opened up in front of me. In the conditions it was encouraging to get a bite, and the first signs of action were when I started to get sucked maggots. I suspected minnows and this was confirmed when I caught one.
Slightly concerned that I had gone all the way to Wales just to catch minnows, I was greatly encouraged when the rod tip indicated that something more substantial was on the other end, and I found myself striking into a better fish. It was actually a brown trout and it got me thinking because I can’t remember the last time I actually had a trout. I ended up with seven of them, all beautiful and perfectly formed fish. However, no chub put in an appearance, and although I persevered well into dark, the rod tip remained motionless once the sun set.
Driving out of the farm on the track, I spotted the farm cat on a post. I had noticed it when I arrived and so when I saw a white animal sitting there, I didn’t pay much attention. But as I got closer I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually a barn owl! It was totally unaware of my presence and I got within a couple of metres of it before it finally left its perch and flew off silently over the adjoining field. It certainly made my day and I seem to be seeing barn owls for fun at the moment – and the three I’ve seen in the space of a month have all come whilst fishing.
As for the Ithon, I’m not sure if I will return. It’s a long journey – just over four hours travelling time here and back – and 160 miles means that the needle on the petrol gauge certainly takes a knock. With fuel being so expensive you have to justify any angling sessions. I would certainly need a good few trips to the river to explore its full potential and I’m not sure that a couple of hundred pounds worth of petrol would be a good investment. Still, if I do return, you will get to read about it in due course!
(Originally published November 2006)