Though later than last year - May orchids by at least 3 weeks - this has been the third consecutive very dry spring. The river is down to a tiny stream trickling from pool to pool through a bed of dry boulders. Sea Trout are seen in the pools but vulnerable to poaching when thus held up.
Hot weather with offshore winds has favoured sea fishing: tides creep inexorably up the beach, water flooding between boulders and into rock pools, raising an underwater forest of brown kelp into which Mullet forage steadily for microscopic food and parties of feisty Bass charge about in clear waters for shrimps, crabs and small fish. Waters above glitter under a hot sun, turquoise over sand, dark over the boulder reef. Wading carefully up the beach, wavelet patterns are watched for change and disturbance by swimming fish. Occasionally, splashes and flashes of silver show, often in very shallow water close to shore, or silver flanks glint in deeper water as fish twist in flight or pursuit.
We have found that a team of three flies – white floating, followed by white and brown lures – cast out and ripped back fast over fish, often attracts them to the spurting surface lure to take one or other fly with a bang followed by a short but exciting battle, occasionally two fish on the same cast. No record sizes to date, but all worth taking: of fourteen fish taken in two days, we gave away 4 and fed 10.
Almost whatever the species, fish eaten fresh is the best. Bass rubbed with salted olive oil, stuffed with bunches of fresh cut fennel, wrapped tight in foil in a hot oven is good: succulent white flesh eaten with bread, salad and white wine will mark this season in our memories.
Wildlife Wales Activities: www.wildlife-wales.co.uk