Downtime No 2. Angling.

“The Rocks” – Upper River Wye.

It was no accident that my wife and I ended up living in a market town in Mid-Wales, next to the picturesque River Wye and it’s less well-known tributary, the River Irfon. The Wye Valley is a beautiful spot, perfect for active downtime pursuits – like angling.

My angling passion is not salmon, nor their cousin, the sea trout. I have caught a Wye sea trout, which capture earned me my one mention in Trout and Salmon several years ago. To be clear, what made the catch distinctive was the rarity value of a sea trout in the Wye, rather than “local angler catches huge fish”. That fish, in any case, was caught by accident, so I claim little credit, save my fly was in the right place at the right time. My preference is to angle for fish I can see – wild brown trout, grayling, and chub – and pike, which make up for their unwillingness to take a fly from the surface by their sheer size – they can grow very big.

A small pike being carefully released after capture.


I like tying my own flies too. They aren’t pretty, but they are the right size for the Wye and Irfon (small) and seem to do the job.

My version of a “Grey Duster” – a dry fly which works well on both the Wye and the Irfon.


Arthur Ransome, the angler.

Arthur Ramsome (of Swallows and Amazons fame), used to write a regular angling column in the Manchester Guardian. Some of his articles were collected and published in a book called Rod and Line, first published in 1929, and reprinted by Oxford University Press in 1980. For anglers interested in all things angling (not just the catching of fish) this little volume is as interesting and relevant now as when it was first published nearly a hundred years ago, and perhaps more so if the historical context is fully appreciated. In one article he talks about the simple pleasures to be had from spending time in a well-stocked tackle-shop. These are few on the ground nowadays, but I have found browsing fishing items online as a substitute is harmless enough, provided some control is exercised, and Ransome’s point – that a large part of the attraction of angling is to be found outside of the confines of lake, river or stream – is well-made.

Angling is not for everyone. But for anyone who loves the outdoors, angling and in particular fly-fishing is a very satisfying way of interacting with nature, as opposed to simply being a spectator, although there is nothing wrong with that either. Sometimes, if there is something beautiful or unusual to see  (in Mid-Wales the culprit can be a Kingfisher, or Red Kite, or an otter) a fish is missed. It doesn’t spoil the fishing in the least.


David Holland is a founder member of the Steering Group of the Wye Salmon Association, and Chairman of his local Angling Club.





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