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to quiet them ; but there is something very pleasant in feeling a big trout jumping and rumbling about in one's basket, with a thump now and then against the lid, that makes one put one's elbow on it, lest the fish should force it up. I have had before now a trout actually throw back the lid, and jump out into the river again: I ought to have had it pegged down. The Hies I used were, first dropper, Willow fy, made buzz ; second dropper, a blue, made buzz, with yellow floss silk for body, and a light blue cock's hackle over it; leader, the whirling blue dun, made small; hook, No. 11.
As the water was so low I fished down the river about a mile and a half, and then fished back again to mine inn. When I took my cast of flies off at the last stream, I, as is my usual custom, turned out the contents of my basket on the grass. I had killed 51 trout, and they weighed nearly 15lbs. I did not kill a fish above half a pound, with one exception. I killed the greatest number with the leader and second dropper, and I found fishing up-stream by far the most effective mode; I could see the fish without being seen, and throwing my fly just above his nose I was sure to rise him. The fish were ravenous, and, like prudent people, seemed to have made up their minds not to refuse a good offer, though many caught a tartar.
In spring, when the water is high—or big, as an old fisherman I know calls it-I much prefer fishing down-stream, and I draw my fly against the current. This, you will say, is contrary to nature; I grant it; but it is a most killing way. Have you never found that having fished a stream without success, you often -very often-rise a trout by winding your line in, and consequently drawing your flies with a jerking motion against the stream? Try it: I often wind up on purpose, and kill trout when they will not notice the fly floating down the stream.
I wished to try Grwyne Fawr; but the water was too low, and I did not attempt it. I fished the Monnow again the next day, and killed 33 trout, and they weighed 10lbs., nearly three to the pounda pretty good average for brooks.
I had often heard the Usk extolled as a beautiful river, and I wished to see it. I next day walked into Abergavenny, only four miles, to try my luck. This little town is one of the most beautifully situated that I know. The Blorenge rises directly in front of it, and seems to overhang it; I speak of it as viewed from the Hereford road. On the left rise the Skyrrid Fawr and the Skyrrid Fach, on the right Brynarw, the Derrig, and above that the conical peak of the Sugar Loaf peeps forth ; farther on, beyond Crickhowel, the ridge of the Brecon Beacons is dimly seen. At night the Blorenge assumes a very curious aspect; the fires from the iron-works shine red beyond it, and it looms out black and frowning with a lurid background.
The river Usk is close to the town. I walked up about a mile, and fished down. I had but poor sport, as the streams are so continually flogged by day by the townspeople, and netted at night by the poachers.
I saw several salmon rise, and one large fish leaped out of water in a long stream, that made me long for proper tackle to try a turn with him. I could not get that fish out of my mind, and I thought I would try and borrow a salmon rod and line next day, and throw
for him. I succeeded in doing so, and put on a fly with a brown Turkey wing, yellow mohair body, with gold twist, red tail and olive coloured hackle. I must tell you that there is a ferry across the Usk, and the boat is sent across by means of a chain and windlass. The river here is narrow and deep, with a very rapid stream ; the boat was at the Govilon side of the river, and close to the stern of it the salmon lay. After a throw or two up he comes, but I missed him. I fished down a little way, intending to return, and try him with another fly, when to my great disgust I saw an old man, a well known poacher, the other side of the river, throwing the stream down. I watched his fly in great suspense, as you may suppose, but was greatly relieved by finding it did not come within two or three yards of the right place. After waiting about 20 minutes I tried him again with the same fly, and the first throw up he came again, and with better aim this time, for he took the fly fairly, and I managed to hook him.
- he desperate takes the death With sullcn plunge-at once he darts along
Deep struck, and runs out all the lengthened line.” It was impossible to kill him where I was : my only chance was to get across the river in the boat, and play him from the opposite gravel. I called to the boatman, and he came after some time, but wanted his penny before he put me across. Only fancy thinking about such a paltry thing as a penny, with a large salmon pulling away, the rod bending, and the line running out apace. However, I managed to find the required coin, and was safely landed. Then came the tug of war. The fish had had the fun nearly all to himself, and had run out 40 yards of line, this I had to get in as well as I could. At the bottom of the stream, some 150 yards down, was a ford, and a pool beyond, with a sharp stream running into it. The gravel ceased at the ford, and a high bank with trees stopped all progress. I ought to have kept him in the deep stream, and fought him against it: this I found out too late-down he went, and of course I had to follow.
" A birr, a whirr! the fish is up
Give line, give line, and measure :
A desperate endeavour.
We listen with devotion ;
That wakes the heart's emotion." I gave him a check for a little, and turned him up again ; but he at last went over the ford, and I had no resource but to rush into the river: I could not follow down the bank on account of the trees. When I got half-way across I found the water up to my hips, and getting deeper at every step. I could go no further, the stream was so strong, my reel was making sweet music, as I stood in the middle of the water, and nearly all my line, about 50 yards, was out, when luckily the fish bore up a little, and I could wind up some line; he made another rush, but I checked him before he had taken out much Line : this continued for about ten minutes, when he began to grow
rather faint, and I could bring bim nearly to me; of course I began to have him now completely under control, and to retrace my steps to the shore. My situation was rather an unpleasant one. The stream was very rapid, and the gravel was shifting : this caused my feet to go down into a hole. At last, after a hard fight of three-quarters of an hour, I drew him to the gravel.
" A birr, a whirr! the fish is ours,
Upon the bank extended;
All beautifully blended.
'Tis hushed-it hath forsaken;
Until its notes rewaken."
I made a very bungling job of it. I might have killed bim in much shorter time; but I was excited, and let him have his own way at first too much; he weighed when I got back to Abergavenny, some eight hours after, 15lbs. I was emboldened by my success to devote the whole of the day to salmon fishing; but though I rose one, a small one, I had not the good fortune to hook him. This was on Saturday; I returned to mine inn, and found G. S. arrived.
On Monday morning early we started for Builth. We walked under the Black Mountains, through Longtown, along the most horrid roads I ever saw, till we came to Hay, or as it is called “The Hay," 17 miles distant from Llanfihangel. We did not fish that day, our object being to proceed to Builth, 15 miles off, by coach the same evening. We did so, and arrived at about 10. We put up at the principal inn, I forget the name of it, I remember well we had a very fair-sized billiard-table in the coffee-room, a rarity in country inns; and this same billiard-table delayed us in the morning some two hours, when we ought to have been on the water,
G. S. was not much of a fisherman, and though he carried bis rod, his chief object was to sketch. Our intention was to make our way down the Wye towards Hay, stopping for the night where we could.
I did not begin to fish close to the town of Builth ; but walked a mile down, till we came to a pretty stream. This I waded across; G. S. did not like to get his clothes wet, and accordingly he took off his trousers, stockings, and boots, and ventured in, carrying portfolio, rod, and an umbrella. I had laughed at him before about this latter article, and now Coubly so; the large pebbles cut his feet, and caused him to walk very gingerly, slipping about. At length he had to use his umbrella as a walking-stick to support his uneasy steps ; by some accident he dropped it, and he had to plunge his arm into the water to recover it, thus wetting himself to the shoulder. He was a pitiable object as I saw him half-an-hour afterwards, sketching under a bank with his coat off, and his shirt sleeve hanging loose for the sun and wind to dry.
I found I could do nothing in the Wye, the fish would hardly stir. I only killed a few lastspring: it was too late for the first set or salmon lastspring, and too early for the second set of lastspring :
they were very small, and hardly worth catching till the end of September.
About two miles from Builth I came to a little brook, but I could not rightly learn the name of it, and I have not a map of Brecknockshire by me to look for it. I asked a man the name of it, and I fancied he called it Honnu ; but he pronounced it like our English word honey. I fished it up for a mile, and killed 14 trout and 30 lastspring. I then took the Wye again, and fished it down as far as Erwood, a neat little village close to the Wye: it consists of a few houses, and among them a public house, with a little brook running into the Wye through its garden. We had agreed to dine and sleep here: it is seven or eight miles from Builth. As I did not find G. S., I fished up the brook a little way; but I only killed six trout. I found it very bushy and disagreeable to fish.
Returning to the inn, I set to work to give the natives a hint at dressing trout in a proper manner-fish are so often spoilt in the cooking. In the first place, ignorant cooks scrape them, and having cleaned them, let them soak in water for an hour. My plan is very different. Trout should never be scraped: you may cut the fins off if you like. Thev should be first well washed in clean water, then opened and the inside taken out: a black line will appear against the back bone; this must be taken out with a fork, with a cloth over the prongs, so as not to bruise the fish; if this is not done they will have a bitter taste, and a disagreeable appearance on the table. They should be wiped clean with a cloth, but on no account let water be applied to thein after they are opened ; wrap them up in a cloth separate, to become dry; and in half-an-hour let them be covered with egg and brcad crumbs, and put into the frying pan with plenty of lard, and let them be well done—they will come out quite dry. No cpicure need have a better dish of fish (salmon always excepted) than a mountain-river trout fresh caught and in good season.
G. S. came in just as I had finished giving directions, and told me of a discovery he had made after I left him. He continued the Radnorshire side of the river (I had recrossed to the Brecknockshire side), and walked down till he came to a church called Aber-edw, where a sweet brook (the Edw) runs into the Wye. His description of it made me wish to go back and fish it; and as he wanted to finish his sketch of the old church, we agreed to do so. I looked at the map and saw the brook, which was about four miles above Erwood; another brook ran parallel with the Edw, called the Bachhowie, and ran into the Wye, half a mile below Erwood. I thought I would fish up one brook, cross the mountains, and fish down the other.
Accordingly, next morning, after an early breakfast we started, crossed the Wye at a ferry called “Cavan-tom-bach," or "little Tom's boat”-and coasted the Wye up on the Radnor side. I never travelled such a rough road, if indeed road it could be called : there were stones in it as large as one's head, and yet I saw that wheels were accustomed to travel it.
The Edw is a very fine brook, very rapid, long streams ending in large deep rocky pools; it is about the size of the Honddu near Llanfihangel; but a mile or two up, it became much smaller. The water was quite dark from the springs rising in the peat. The bottom was covered with large rocks, rendering a sure and certain retreat to the fish from the nets of the poachers. I did not meet with much success, the water was so clear, only killing 12 trout and about 30 lastspring. In one deep pool I had hold of a monster as I thought; he ran my line out very quickly, but soon gave over fighting : it was a chub of over 2lbs. I was glad to meet a small boy, to give the fish to. The French rightly call the chub un villain ; and though old Isaak professes to make a goodly dish of him, I think most people. will only eat him when they can get no other—as in the case of the small boy, who appeared charmed with his present.
I did not go above two miles up. The mountain rose close to the brook, and I had some difficulty in climbing it; I thought I never should get to the top. I did so at last, however ; and hard work it was, with the sun shining bright. I had a very fine view from the top, looking over a large expanse of country; but I cannot describe it to yon, as I am ignorant of the names of the hills, valleys, or rivers, I looked down upon. After walking a mile across the hill in the direction of the Bachhowie, and moving several packs of grouse, I came to a descent, when what was my surprise to see a lake on the top of the mountains, with no outlet to it, but imbedded in the hills! It is called the Buchan Pool. I did not go down to it, as my way led on one side of it: so whether it contained trout or not I am ignorant to this day. I found a great deal of white heather in full bloom : it contrasted very singularly with the purple heath around it.
I thought I never should find my way to the brook; but aided by the guidance of a shepherd, I at last, after two hours' walking only four miles, reached it, and found it a very poor affair indeed. I had to walk down half a mile before I came to any water deep enough to hold a trout; a few rills increased it as I followed its course, the brook fulfilling the old motto of “ vires acquirit eundo." I did not rise a fish, the water was as clear as crystal. After fishing an hour I came to a waterfall of some 16 feet, here I rose a few trout, and killed one, about half a pound. Two streams below this fall, in a very small stream, I rose a good fish twice, and hooked him the second time: I had hard work to land him, he took me under a rock; but I secured him at last: he weighed llb. 702.
*After fishing without a rise for half a mile, I came to a most remarkable waterfall; I am afraid to say the height, but I should imagine it was at least 40 feet. The rocks on each side rose high above my head to about the same height, till they nearly met. I was very awkwardly situated, I could not get down or up; the only thing for me to do was to put up my tackle, go back a short way, and round the rocks through a wood, till I came to a path that led down to the river below the fall. This I did, and resumed my fishing again. Just as I reached the edge of the water a large trout of at least 2lbs. glided into the deep black pool into which the water fell from the rocks above. The pool looked very gloomy and black, with the high rocks on each side of it. The day was drawing to a close, I was in a strange country, and I did not know how far it was to Erwood. I began to be alarmed, fearing lest night should come upon me in such a solitary place.