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I first met Terry Bromwell a few years back while controlling for him at the Hanak Grayling Festival on the Welsh Dee. We got on really well sharing our love of the world’s greatest fly-fishing guide Hank Patterson! I had obviously heard of Terry, as a multi capped Welsh river angler and winner of the Brown Bowl on two occasions. He has asked me a few times to come down and fish the Taff and this year I made the effort to make the trip down, keen to add more venues to my tally.
Unfortunately, elsewhere in the country matches were being cancelled left and right and fishing plans were being abandoned. Terry was sure we would be OK though so we decided to crack on. The Taff, much to my great disappointment was a solid grey colour Terry seemed to think it was from a collier upstream. Not to worry though the Rhondda was still in good order. A bit about the river……
“The river has two major tributaries, the Rhondda Fawr and the Rhondda Fach (respectively, the "big" and the "little" Rhondda). Despite these names, both tributaries are of similar length. Both valleys display the U-shape cross-sections typical of glaciated valleys, having been eroded during successive ice ages. They cut deeply into the thick South Wales Coal measures which comprise sandstones and mudstones and coal seams of Carboniferous age. The whole form of the river and its surrounding urbanisation has been dominated by coal mining and the communities that grew up to exploit the rich coal seams. Much of the valley has suffered severe subsidence because of the removal of coal from beneath the valley floor. The houses and streets have subsided with the result that river levels are, in parts, higher than the surrounding houses. In order to contain the river and prevent flooding, walls have been built, sometimes across the ends of streets - these are known as "The Rhondda walls".”
It was carrying a little colour but still looked very fishable, Terry suggested that we start with some bugs in the morning and hopefully be able to switch to dries if the chance should come. I was well warned about the difficulty of the wading and the thought of a wading staff passed fleetingly through my head…..nah I’ll be fine! More on that later as we approached the river Terry pointed out some marks and the name of the fish that lived there. You know you’re in good hands when your pal knows the names of the trout in the river! It was quite literally minutes before we were into sport! The fish were not huge but they were stunning and everyone was different to the next. Terry told me this was because they were originally sourced from many different places.
We worked our way upstream picking at different bits of water until we reached some really good pocket water. Its easy to see why the Welsh rivers team are so accomplished they have many different types of water to practice on. I have been fortunate that when I took to the rivers I had some very accomplished river anglers to show me the ropes. By entering river team qualifiers and fishing national finals I have been able to learn even more. I have controlled some of the best anglers in the country and you always pick up little bits and bobs along the way. Watching Terry fishing the pocket water was another occasion where lessons were learned.
As we moved up we came across a tent by the side of the river. There was nobody home but it was very obviously inhabited rather dangerous when you consider how fast the river can rise. The poor occupant was sleeping rough with their worldly possessions’ in a few plastic bags secreted in the woods near the tent. It really makes you think when folks are living like this how lucky you are. As it was the tent was pitched next to a peachy looking deep run and Terry and I both took fish from it. After that it was time for a move and my belly was telling me it was time for a bit of lunch.
After being refuelled we went to look at the Taff but it was proper u*ed up. So we relocated and went to fish right in the middle of town. That sounds like it may not be fun with cars and people going by. The truth is different though once you have descended down into the river it’s a little paradise with bags of character and more perfect little trout than you can shake a stick at. As we were getting into the river I had barely got my boots wet before Terry had a fish. It was a good one as I reached for my camera my feet went from me and I landed hard on my buttocks! Thankfully Terry was not FB Live at the time, the bruise is not inconsiderable.
The wading was very difficult maybe some of the most difficult I have come across, I was really regretting leaving my wading staff in the car. There were fish a plenty as we fished up though the town and laughs to boot. Terry and I had a great laugh mostly at me falling over I might add. The fish were not really big but for wild fish they were in good order and some may well have gone to around 1lb or so. We had put a ten-hour session in and as we looked to finish up our day, I thought I could hear the long-awaited rise. As it was it was just some kids throwing stones at me from the wall next to the river, little toe rags. Terry gave them short shrift but it was definitely time to call it a day.
I had an absolute ball and must thank Terry for hosting me I learned loads and had a great laugh doing it. It was a great shame I couldn’t add the Taff to my list of venues, but it is a great excuse to go back on another day. This really brought home the importance of fishing different types of water in order to improve. I have become to accustomed to fishing the gentle flow of the chalk streams and need to make an effort to get on some faster rivers with pocket water and deep runs. If you are in South Wales for any reason be sure to take your fishing kit you won’t be disappointed.