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  1. #61
    Join Date
    May 2006
    In between the old and new Arsenal grounds

    Default Re: The Monnow Social 2018

    Will do my dammdest to make it next year,do you have any beats suitable for the dead slow walkers ,and a recent post re ice on the tents has me slightly worried.
    Andy Wren
    Still fishing but slowly!

  2. #62
    Join Date
    Jan 2010

    Default Re: The Monnow Social 2018

    For those who were at the social and those who couldn't make it, as part of the infamous Saturday night auction Rob Denny put his hand in his pocket and foolishly bid for a days guided fishing on the Wilts Avon with yours truly.

    The work put in to maintain and support the river by Rob, Patrick and Co. is simply amazing. For those who have never fished the Social or taken part in the Fly Forum Monnow Auction, there are some fantastic lots to be won. This turned out to be one of them.

    Here's my write up of the day taken from the Monnow Rivers Association FB page:

    During the famous Monnow Social Saturday Night Auction Rob Denny was in full flow and managed to sell me the famous 56 reel, which I still haven’t found a line for, (you had to be there to understand ). He also managed to sell me some waders I didn’t really need and when I momentarily left the auction to put them in the boot of my car, on my return, I was informed that Rob had bid for and won a days’ guided fishing as my guest on on the historic Services Dry Fly Fishing Association waters on the Wilts Avon near Netheravon, formerly tended by Sawyer and fished by Kite.

    After a very slow start to the season, with some settled and warmer weather the Avon has finally woken up, with decent Mayfly hatches and superb top of the water sport. Not wanting to waste the opportunity, I contacted Rob at the beginning of the week to see if he would be available to fish, prior to the end of the week before the hatches fizzled out.

    We agreed Friday would suit us both however the weather wasn’t looking good with thunder and lightning storms forecast throughout the week in the South West. Amazingly most of the storms missed the South West early in the week but on Thursday we had a few storms which made the trip touch and go. I called Rob on Thursday night hedging towards rearranging for next week but Rob had no objections to fishing a slightly up and coloured river and was keen to go.
    Decision made, I sent Rob directions and we agreed to meet at 09-30 in the morning.

    I arrived 15 minutes early and had a quick reccy to the bridge see how the river was. It was up several inches, pushing though and slightly coloured. There were odd mayfly coming off and more importantly I spotted a couple of fish rising which was a good sign. Watching the water and listening to a Cuckoo, (you seem to be surrounded by them on the Avon but rarely see them), it wasn’t long before Rob arrived.

    We had a short drive to another car park where we discussed our strategy for the day which was to start on some of the more typical water, reed and bush lined on both sides with steady glides and gravel runs with varying currents before moving on to the beat above which is much more technical, with shallow gravel runs, ranunculus beds, trees and bushes overhanging and trailing in the water and a multitude of slacks, back eddies and varying currents.

    Because wind and rain had been forecast I’d come armed with my 9ft 5#. I set up with a 10ft tapered leader to 0.16 dia tippet with size 10 a dirty mayfly Wulff completing the set up. Rob opted for an 8ft 6in 4# with a 12ft-14ft tapered leader and 4lb tippet and one of the patterns he uses on the Monnow.
    Getting down to the river, before we got in, we simply stood watching, noting flies coming off, (not a lot), and noting positions of any fish moving.

    We’d spotted a couple of fish rising in a shallow narrow run, just a few yds up from where we were going to get in. Given that it was Rob’s day, I was keen to let him do the majority of the fishing at the start of the session and with this in mind he slowly got into position to cover the two fish.

    As he covered the fish, I have to admit I was impressed with his casting, with nice controlled loops and good turn over of the fly, putting slack into the leader and keeping it straight and tight as and when required.

    Now to the fishing.

    You know you’re going to have an entertaining day, when your guest misses the first rise, then the second and it wasn’t long before a pattern was emerging, however in Robs defence he was just tuning in and biding his time. I won’t mention the fact that if there had been a local post, I could have got a letter to him between the time the fish had taken the fly and he’d struck and so the banter began.

    Rob quickly picked off a couple of smaller fish and it wasn’t long before he was into his first decent fish. Working our way up, Rob picked up a couple of good fish we’d noted on the far bank, holding in the slacker water. I’d also caught a couple of fish on the inside but something wasn’t quite right as we’d both had a number of refusals.

    We both were of the opinion, that either the flies were dragging or the patterns we’d selected weren’t quite right. With this in mind, I changed to a March Brown emerger which had the profile I was looking for and a couple of casts later I was into a good fish. Catching another fish on my next cast, Rob quickly changed patterns and was into a fish almost straight away.

    We caught as flies came off. Any lulls in surface activity coincided with a reduction in fish rising however the thing we’d both noted was that nearly all the fish we’d caught were wild fish which is very unusual as there are a reasonable number of stocked fish, so any members or guests who wish to take fish can take them without compromising the natural stock.

    At the top of the run, Rob targeted a couple of better fish we’d noted rising earlier and after a couple of attempts the fish duly obliged giving good account of themselves much to Robs and my delight .

    Taking a break for lunch we had a good chat before moving to the more challenging beat upstream where Rob let me have first dibs. The water we were approaching is some of the best water on the river. The better fish tend to stay tight to the vegetation, often under overhanging canopies of branches, under cut bank, not to mention the beds of ranunculus which can create its own problems, not only in presenting a fly but also getting a fish out should you manage to hook one.

    Taking turns, we worked up the beat egging each other on and bouncing off each other, playing the game of “make that cast” both admiring each others casts and taking the micky when it didn’t go quite to plan. On one cast over a ranunculus bed, under and between a canopy of branches to a very good fish, we’d seen rising tight to the undercut bank, the fish came up and nailed the fly and then all hell broke loose as I tried to extract it from it’s safe haven. Although Rob accused me of faffing about, with a big grin on his face, it was in the net within a minute. A beautiful wild fish however I’ll Rob his due as he did congratulate me on not only making the cast but getting the fish out but it didn’t end there.

    Moving up we took some good fish including the odd stock fish when Rob had noted a good fish sitting in a narrow seam of water between the far bank and a ranunculus bed, with overhanging and trailing branches several yds above and several yds below. Putting slack into the leader on the cast to give a half decent drift, the fly landed in exactly the right spot, it didn’t travel far before I noted a large bronze flank and water moving as a very good fish took the fly.

    Now here’s a point, at least when I hooked my fish, my faffing about consisted of me standing my ground and simply applying pressure trusting my experience and tackle and netting it in very short order. Did this happen with Rob?
    I’ve seen people go walkabouts with fish but Rob was like Crocodile Dundee as he headed off downstream at a rate of knots, trying to keep below the fish while at the same time doing his best to extract it from its safe haven. At the same time, I was trying my best to keep up and get a good picture, while he’d gone camera shy, sprinting off downstream leaving a wake like a speed boat behind him.

    Ok I might be exaggerating a little but it wasn’t long before we both knew this was a special fish. Rob had to use all of his experience to keep it out of the branches and ranunculus bed and steer it to clear water where I was able to net it for him. All we could do was admire the fish as it laid on it’s flank in the net. A quick measure identified it was 21 ins which according to some of the weight and size charts would suggest a weight of around 3.5lbs. It was a beautiful fish strong and powerful with thick shoulders and I have to say Rob did very well to get it out despite my micky taking.

    In summary we fished on a little more, caught a few more fish and despite the river colouring up as the day went on, we still had a fantastic days fishing. Fishing with Rob was superb, he’s great company and very knowledgeable despite him faffing about a little, his fish which would have made any river anglers day.

    All in all, an excellent day in great company that we both enjoyed immensely.

    I won’t mention Robs squirrel hunting prowess which he excels at but no doubt we’ll fish together again. I’ll more than likely get my up and commence at next years auction at the social, when Robs back on his high horse doing what he does best entertaining in the best possible taste, making the social what it is, something that without, I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of his company.

    Roll on next year, not that I want this one to be over any time soon!

    Last edited by dave b; 03-06-2018 at 06:48 AM.

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