On a Black Carmarthen Night

A bare white tree on an island stands go find it if you might

It marks the spot where I lost my way on that black Carmarthen night

I came upon a swirling pool where a silver sewin lay

She took my fly in that swirling pool

She met her destiny

July 2002

The Towy was running high and brown after rain the day before. The Cothi at Edwinsford had run off a bit and was looking good, so I decided to take the offer of a day ticket on the Cothi above Edwinsford in the hope that a sewin or two had run on the high water to the upper reaches.

I fished the fly for an hour or two on the Friday afternoon on a falling water but saw no sign of sea trout, and hooked only a few trout and parr. That evening, my last night of the week, I was faced with a choice of fishing the Towy, which was still carrying some colour, or the Cothi. Judging that the Cothi would be running clear by dusk, I thought it the better bet.

River Cothi
River Cothi

I began early and fished quickly down the mile or so of the beat, casting here and there in likely spots, with no sign at all of any sea trout in the river. I eventually arrived, as darkness fell, at a nice looking pool at the very bottom end of the beat. If truth be told, I later wondered if I might have strayed, in the darkness, onto the Edwinsford water. Fishing beat boundaries are so often indistinctly marked. This pool, though, looked very promising indeed with good tree cover on the far right hand bank and good deep water under the trees, just the place for a sea trout to lie at ease. I fished carefully, thoroughly covering the whole pool with a cast of two size eight singles – a Ginger Pearl on the tail and a Dark Mackerel on the dropper. Yet still no sign of any sewin.

It was a lovely fishing night but early hopes soon receded. The river seemed dead. It was past eleven o’clock. I was on the point of giving up and perhaps having an hour or two on the Angling Association water on the Towy down at Llandeilo, where I had taken two small sewin earlier in the week, when out of the blue, as the flies swung round for the umpteenth time into the slack water near the left hand bank, I had a sudden, solid take. My surprise at this cannot be overstated. I knew at once that I was into a heavy fish, certainly over five pounds, as it slashed around on the surface on being hooked. After a worrying few moments, the fish went down and moved out into the main stream, playing more like a salmon, immovable deep in the flow with an occasional angry shake of the head. I could do no more than keep a steady pressure on, hoping all the while not to get line back on the reel too soon and find myself playing a heavy fish under the rod tip. The fish didn’t try to run far. I would manage to coax it in a few yards before it moved back effortlessly into the main stream. I couldn’t risk putting too much pressure on. Patience was the thing. Allow the fish to pull when it wanted while keeping a steady pressure on the line when it stopped, praying that the hook hold was secure. I had left the net in the car – there’s optimism for you! – so I would have to beach the fish, inevitably prolonging the fight, as it would have to be played out before any attempt at beaching on the sloping shingle bank.

It must have been a good ten minutes before the fish first showed a bright silver flank in the near pitch darkness. I could see then that this was an exceptional sea trout, possibly my biggest yet. I thought it might even go over ten pounds. A worrying few moments followed as I brought it towards the bank, when it would take off again in fright. But each time I drew it near it weakened and when it at last turned on its side, beaten, I managed to draw it on to the bank. I gripped it by the tail and pushed it ashore before lifting it well up the bank away from the river. What a fish, solid silver gleaming in the darkness.  It had taken the Ginger Pearl tail fly, dressed on a size 8 Partridge Captain Hamilton hook, fished on a DT7 Shakespeare Glider Neutral line and an 8 lb fluorocarbon monofilament leader, the rod a ten and a half footer recently built on a nice three piece Harrison blank, and a trusty Young’s reel.

Was the fish over ten pounds? Hard to say but not far off. Definitely my best sea trout to date. My spring balance only went to seven pounds which was way too inadequate. It would have to wait till morning when I would take it into Mrs Morgan at Towy Sports to be weighed. As it turned out, the fish weighed nine pounds on the button, and may have lost a few ounces overnight too.

I fished on for another hour or so with no more offers before I called it a night, well satisfied. It had been a hard week with little to show for my efforts but well worth it in the end. I may not ever catch a better sea trout than this.

Cothi Sewin
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