Fishing the River Cilieni

Wild Fishing on the Upper Cilieni stream

31 August 2020

The Cilieni is a northern remote tributary of the river Usk, while still in the district of Powys in Wales. It starts its short journey from up on the Epynt Range. It then snakes its way south and joins up with its sister stream the Eithrim which then flows into the Usk at Cwmwysg – Ganol just above Sennybridge. In all, both streams are approx. 3.5 miles long.

Now for those of you who were like me into motor rallying in the late 1960/1970s, the era of the Copper S, Imps, Cortina, and Escorts in our youth, you will remember that If you started a rally at Bengry’s Garage at Leominster or the Cattle Market in Hereford, it was inevitable during the night you would compete on a timed road section over the Epynt Range, (known as a stage or a timed road section). Now while looking at the O/S map no.160 to get to this fishing site, I find myself looking at one of these sections across Epynt called the “Deer’s Leap” stage, not the Wye and Usk advised route I have to say. Tirabad to Llywet marked as a track, or in the 1967/1969-O/S sheet maps a white road, meant some tarmac, mud, gravel and grass in the middle, the road sign used to read unsuitable for motor vehicles, but now it’s all tarmac with a new surface, care of the MOD, very fast if your rallying. So over the cattle grid I go 7 miles to the next cattle grid. The mind is a strange object and I think, all in my sub conscious while progressing very carefully, and concentrating not to hit any sheep, I can smell Castrol R (rally engine oil) and hear the whine of straight cut gears, the navigator shouting out the contours and bends, and then the smell of hot mud on the exhaust, and over the next cattle grid I go, “Hell where did that 7 miles go to!” and my nostalgia trip down memory lane is over, wonderful times. So back to the real world to go and find the correct route to the stream and go fishing on the Upper Cilieni. After all the rain in Wales lately, all the rivers are very high, so going high up on the Cilieni I was assuming after 2 days without rain it will have dropped down, which it had, to about on average of 2ft deep, expect where the gullies and pools were it was deeper. Now, I am used to small Stream wild fishing but this was too wild for me, and far too overgrown, apart from climbing over fences sliding down the banks to the water on your backside. My idea was to wade up the stream slowly, but the bank vegetation was so thick and so tall, then the canopy of bushes and tree branches came down and touched the water across the whole stream, bank to bank. There was no space to cast so all I could do is climb out over the fence, walk up the field and try again. Having done this 6 times, enough was enough, a young and agile person would enjoy it I am sure, but not me these days, not agile enough anymore, age comes to us all. The stream although peat coloured brown was very clear, as when you stood in the field by the edge of the fence with your binoculars you could see fish swimming about. It helped being a nice sunny day. Just another point to note, on the route from the main road it’s so narrow I had both wing mirrors turned inwards.

I fished my 5ft 6in rod; 2.5lb Tibet 24in long; and size 22 gold head; no fish caught as I probably spooked them getting down the banks and entering the water and then the next problem is to climb out up a tall muddy bank covered in brambles and stinging nettles, painful.

You can obtain your day ticket from the Wye & Usk Foundation where they supply all directions, beat maps and pool descriptions, £10.00 per day, book on line or by phone (01874 712074). It’s a straight forward route from Brecon as shown on their map. If I may suggest for those of you who want to try it, a short rod, my 5ft 6ins was max length needed, is a must and you need to be fit, agile, and possibly younger than me may help, as it really is mountain goat territory. With small fields you’re for ever climbing over fences or locked gates, which they say the gates are locked to stop the sheep rustlers.

On my way back across the barren moor on a damp humid evening, on route to my base I thought on the many options Wales has to offer us, just in the Powys district you have the Wye, Cammarch, Irfon, Usk, Ithon, Dullas Brook and some others, and then all the wild Streams fishing, our combined thanks must go to the Wye & Usk Foundation for their work on the Fishing Passport to give us these options.

As I turn into the carpark, switch off and go to get out, the first noise I hear is two Tawny Owls some distance apart having a conversation, then a couple of Bats zig zagging above the hedges collecting early evening flies. The bats live in the ruins of a barn in the opposite field. As I turn to walk down the path I catch that smell of Epynt mud on my hot exhaust, and smile what a wonderful day. With wild fishing you have from time to time to take the bad days with the good, as it’s Wales at its very best, with a bit of nostalgia thrown in for luck. Now my “Guinness” awaits me.

Later at the end of September I am back out on my favourite River Irfon, although another new beat for me on the Llanfechan Estate, and a report will follow.

Tight lines, till the next time and keep safe.

Andrew Ayres

WFD, CFD, Grayling Society member

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