Lovely time with my team (England River Team, 2017) on the Ebbw in South Wales. I cascade back through the years while I am with them, back to happy, exciting times, when we seemed to be at the frontier of our sport. Our passion. In beautiful places. It is so fulfilling, and something of an eye-opener. You might think that nothing really changes, that there are just tiny, incremental changes and developments. In the main, I suppose, this is how it is, but believe me, out here, on the frontier of possibilities, the paradigm is shifting. ‘The shit shifts’, as one of my boys put it. There was a time when experience was enough, when time with dry fly technique on the river could see you through; well, it did for me. Plume tip and medium olive (and Sunray Volition two weight prototype and presentation line), Ebbw, May 2017.And if you could learn how to nymph properly, sans indicator, or (perhaps with the suggestion of an indicator section) French leader, then you were up at the next level. Enough of us in England learned how to do it, such that we were among the best in the world at it – the little, rarefied world of competitive fly fishing for trout and grayling. But then, of course, they all caught up, and most of them passed us by; passed on. The French and the Czechs, in particular.
The Ebbw is a gorgeous river, tributary of the Usk/Severn system, essentially recovered from the massive coal mining pollution of a bygone age, and probably not suffering the same nitrate and phosphate agricultural damage as most (all?) English rivers.I caught beautiful trout here, on the plume tip.
Oh yes, there is pollution, in the form of greenhouses disposed of in the river, and rubbish bags hurled over river-side walls, and… But the river is alive. Heavy hatches of up-wings of at least four species; midges and dance flies galore.
And wonderful, wild trout in abundance. Oh, how I wish that Eden was not so horrifically damaged, and was repaired to the state of this little Welsh river. Just one more example of what has gone so terribly wrong in England, in comparison with rivers elsewhere, anyway. Ah, but there are those, the majority(?), and the influential in their high, secure positions, who are in denial. Their egos, their own agenda. Finally, their ignorance. Dare I say it – yes, sounds like the political class of 2017, taking us over the edge into the abyss. But they are wrong and one day, will seen to be wrong.
Even among housing estates, industrial estates and road networks (it all beats farms when it comes to healthy rivers), the Ebbw is a delight. Down at water level, anyway. And the population of trout is certainly healthy, fed by that phenomenal invertebrate abundance.
And – Team England – they are all more photogenic than me, dammit. This is Andy Ford, caught in a moment that belies his phenomenal work rate. Although none of them are so photogenic as these lovely trout.