This week Bill Carne was delighted to meet up with Adrian Jones, rightly regarded as one of the most knowledgeable fly fishermen and angling coaches in our county . . .

After over 50 years’ involvement with fly fishing in Pembrokeshire it is fair to say that Adrian Jones is one of the most experienced and respected exponents of angling in Pembrokeshire but Adrian has also been involved in rugby in Haverfordwest, golf in Milford Haven and racing large yachts that included an unforgettable visit to the Fastnet Race within about a month of his starting out.

Now he is back to using his angling artistry, mainly at Llys y Fran Reservoir, and being an active member of the Pembrokeshire Federation of Angling Coaches, where he specialises in giving expert tuition to ladies just starting out and youngsters in school whom he hopes will learn to love the sport as he did in his formative years.

Adrian started his involvement with angling when he was about ten years old, joining other lads from the area who started catching trout from the stream near the Rising Sun, in Pelcomb.

It was teeming with fish over half a century ago and it wasn’t long before he was so embroiled that his parents would drop him off at St Catherine’s Bridge and allow him to walk back up the river towards Treffgarne, sometimes in the dark, and pick him up with five or six decent-sized trout for the family table.

But the big step in his angling education came when he was allowed to spend holidays with his uncle, Billy Williams, who had the Half Moon Hotel at Llandyssul, just a fly-fishing cast from the River Teifi.

Now Billy had been captain of the Welsh Salmon Association team and was delighted to find such an avid learner as young Adrian, who wanted to soak up all he knew about the river.

The pair spent many happy hours together and even when Uncle Billy had to do some work in the hotel, his nephew could be found, walking the river bank with a rod and line in his hand. It was a time when Adrian not only learned the art of fly fishing but developed his appreciation of the wildlife that abounded nearby, like foxes and badgers, water voles and otters, kingfishers and dippers, barn owls and herons.

“I fished the Teifi almost every day, and I will never forget the first sewin I caught with a fly; a beauty of four and a half pounds.

“It was another three years before I caught a similar specimen fish on the Western Cleddau, near the Treffgarne Bends.

“By then I had widened my angling education since my uncle, Tom Jones was a tobacconist who doubled up as master of the Pembrokeshire Hunt.” Adrian told us, “and my grandfather, Jim Jones, was huntsman, so I was brought up with the folklore of our countryside from a different perspective.

“I sometimes went out with them, shooting woodcock. snipe, pheasant and partridge but I only shot birds I would eat.”

When Adrian started work with Basil Jones and Sons, the well-known auctioneers, it afforded him even better access to the local rivers because many of his clients were farmers who had the Cleddau running through their land and they were more than willing to let him use their fishing rights!

At 17 Adrian eased off his fishing a little because he discovered rugby and played for Haverfordwest with a team captained by Roy Stephens.

“I really enjoyed that involvement and played for a seasons with the Blues before I suffered some ill-health and had to stop playing.

“But I was determined to play something and so I took up golf at Milford Haven alongside Mike Buckingham and Ronnie Williams, and played there from 1970 to 1984, captaining the Rabbits’ team and eventually dropping my handicap to 14 on a course that I always thought was beautiful but challenging.

A chance conversation then led Adrian into race sailing at Milford Haven Yacht Club, crewing for John Davies of Herbrandston Hall on his racing yacht ‘Morning Glory’, which was a sister yacht to ‘Morning Cloud’, owned and raced by former Prime Minister Ted Heath.

“I agreed to give it a try,” admitted Adrian, “and I was literally thrown in at the deep end because about a month later, after just one small race off The Heads, I found myself involved in the 1987 Fastnet Race, sailing’s equivalent of the Isle of Man TT in motorbike racing!

“I had little technical knowledge but was pretty strong at that time so I was often given the task of being the winch man, charged with the responsibility of lifting the large sails as quickly as possible.

“I could not believe the yacht’s speed in gale force winds, torrential rain and huge waves,” Adrian told us, “and it was exhilarating but terrifying at the same time!”

“I also joined John and the rest for two European Championships in Cork where there was great camaraderie amongst all the crews and very exciting races. But after about six years I took over the running of the ‘General Picton’ in Clarbeston Road and couldn’t devote enough time for sailing, which I missed very much.”

Adrian also loves his horse-racing and is a season ticket holder at Ffos Las, but it is angling that remains deepest in his veins and he still maintains his strong interest in the river banks and Llys y Fran.

This love caused him to decide it was time to put something back by coaching newcomers, especially children and women, amongst whom he can number current Welsh Ladies fly fishing champion Sandie Bevan, and his own good lady Simone, whom he was thrilled about when she gained selection for the Welsh Ladies’ team in 2005.

So he joined the Pembrokeshire Federation of Angling Coaches and has since joined the likes of Rhian Taylor, Barbara Thorne, Nica Pritchard and the fellers like Roger Pratt, John Codd and Eric Williams in coaching, especially with regard to special needs youngsters at their lodge at Treffgarne Bends.

He can also be found fishing at Llys y Fran up to four times a week.

“When the sun shines there is no more lovely place that I know,” admits Adrian with a chuckle, “and my best specimen fish there was an 11lbs 10ozs rainbow trout.

“It was the final day of the season and I was about to go home but thought I might as well have a few more casts in the remaining 20 minutes – and up popped my beauty!”

He also ties his own flies for his fishing, utilising natural resources like the feathers of pheasants and other birds, plus the hair from the tails of squirrels, foxes and badgers.

“It is hugely relaxing and as well as following my own designs I also get inspiration from the huge number of old angling books I have acquired in 50 years of fly fishing.

“I am also inspired by the terrific work of my PFAC colleagues, some of whom have a rich store of knowledge to pass on.”

We could only agree with that sentiment, safe in the conviction that Adrian Jones loves his fishing as much as anyone – and we wish him many more years casting his rod out over the waters of his beloved Llys y Fran and the Western Cleddau!