Blog, news and reviews from Snowdonia Fly Fishing Guides
The river Dee
Fishing in gin clear water to rising fish, it really doesn't get any better.
I've fished in many countries for grayling including Bosnia, Croatia and Slovenia but question why I went all that way and spent a bucket of money when some of the best grayling fishing in stunning countryside is on my doorstep.
Grayling Society skills day
A skills day I organised recently for Grayling Society members saw a pretty good turnout with almost 40 people attending. Members were able to learn a number of different casting skills and fishing techniques including tenkara, trotting, nymphing dry fly and wet fly fishing.
Images courtesy of Rob Hartley
I had the pleasure to guide Vince this morning, he's over from America visiting family and wanted a morning on the river.
It started off cold and windy and it didn't get any better, a bitter cold upstream wind kept the fish low. It was a slow start but as the sun made an appearance things improved. Vince had never caught a grayling before so was pleased to add a couple to his catch catalogue, but his pièce de résistance was a G&T, a grayling and trout caught at the same time. The spotty took the spider on the dropper and a grayling grabbed the bead headed nymph on the point. Needless to say Vince was more than a little pleased with this result.
Well done Vince.
It's the grayling closed season at the moment and no responsible anglers will be targetting them deliberately. But the Dee is a river famed for its grayling and catching them whilst fishing for brown trout is almost inevitable as they share many of the same habitats and food sources.
Today the weather was even worse than yesterday with very heavy snow for a time that turned to sleet late morning and finally stopped by mid afternoon. The fishing was really tough and I only managed to catch a couple of grayling, and missed a couple of other fish. The guys I was with faired little better and between three of us we only caught 10 fish.
River Dee 'spottie'
On Monday I was walking the dogs up on the moors in a tee shirt. Two days later it was -3c and I was brushing an inch of snow from the car before setting off for a day on the river with my mate Karl. The weather added an hour to the journey and we tackled up in driving sleet and a biting cold north easterly. The first hour was pretty depressing, cold, wet and no fish! Towards lunchtime the temperature and my spirits lifted slightly as I started catching a few. I felt sure this lovely little wild brownie was a sewin when I hooked it as it spent more time in the air than in the water and putting a lovely bend in my fibreglass rod.
The day ended with very weak watery sun, but it was enough to see a hatch and catch a couple on a dry fly. So a very enjoyable, if cold day, with my final tally being 14 fish caught and safely released and of course a few that got away.
Well the weather here is still dreadful, but not unusual for this time of year. It has been raining heavily, really heavily, for several days and blowing a gale. I was supposed to be on the river tomorrow but there's no chance of that now, it's best fished when the gauge is showing a height of around 300mm, it's still fishable at 450mm but downright hairy at 600mm. The gauge is currently showing 2330mm and still rising.
The mountains have water cascading down them in waterfalls and the moors are saturated with floodwater turning tracks into temporary rivers. Even the dogs are reluctant to go out in it.
So it's back to the vice to tie some more flies, well what else is there to do!
In my last post I said I was using up stocks of wild bird feathers and wouldn't use them again once my current stock is gone. Well rummaging through my boxes of materials I think I've got enough to last me for this lifetime and the next :0(
I've been using a golden plover skin today an old friend gave me as his eyesight is failing and hands are not as steady as they once were.
Below are a few of the spiders I've tied today on size 12 or 14 hooks.
Well the rivers are too high and fast to fish and the lake trout season doesn't start until next week. So to kill a bit of time I've been at the vice tying spiders. Not that I need any more, I've tied dozens of them over the winter.
Most wild birds are seeing dramatic declines in their numbers so I'm using up stocks of wild bird capes and instead will only use farmed birds in future. The top two pictures are various spider patterns but I've used a Chevron Hackles, Sunburst, hen cape for the hackle on all of them.
The bottom two have a golden plover hackle, available from Cookshill, and a Krystal Flash rib over a grey dubbing body.
I hope to take them for a swim at the weekend.
The weather is unseasonably warm, the ponds are alive with spawning frogs and the air is thick with insects. Snowdrops, daffodils and crocus are in bloom and the birds are collecting nest material. It's easy to be lulled into a false sense of security. Last March we saw the 'Beast from the East', dropping temperatures up here to -14 for a couple of weeks, undoing all the early preparations made by birds and amphibians.
When I'm not fishing I love walking the mountains and moors with a couple of the dogs. I'm looking forward to getting out on some of the upland lakes when the trout season starts next month. Some of these lakes are crammed with beautiful coloured truly wild brownies and are rarely visited by anglers. The one pictured below is teaming with natural invertebrates and it can be challenging to get a fish to take an artificial fly. Conversely some other lakes have less aquatic invertebrates and the fish rely on wind blown terrestrials for food - now these are the lakes where the resident spotties will happily rise for a well placed dry fly.
It was bitter cold yesterday and as we pulled up to river the snow flakes were the size of golf balls, I exaggerate not, and even the hot coffee, sausage rolls and cheese and potato pasties did nothing to warm us up.
We hit the river with little expectation, but lots of hope, that we'd find some fish. Lady luck was on our side and we managed to bring more than a few grayling to the net. As the sun fell behind the mountains and the temperatures dropped we called it a day with tales of fingers so cold you could snap 'em off and some lovely hard won fish.
Today I've forgotten about how cold it was but the memory of the fish caught will stay with me.
Pretty little river Dee winter grayling. Several were caught on an icy cold January morning on small beaded nymphs.
Over the years I've tried many brands of sunglasses and a plethora of different coloured lenses. Without doubt the best shades I've ever used are Cost Del Mar. They are second to none when it comes to the quality of their lenses and have excellent build quality and a huge variety of styles and sizes.
I use copper coloured lenses on bright days and yellow lenses when the weather is dull or I'm fishing into the evening. The Silver Sunrise really are quite exceptional, with 30% light transmission 100% polarisation and mirrored lenses I don't believe these glasses have a rival. Some other high end brands only offer 12% - 14% light transmission and less polarisation.
A few months ago I lost my old pair of yellows and I've been putting off replacing in the hope they turned up, well they haven't and with the onset of winter I urgently needed to get a new pair. I've got the glass lenses this time around, I was reluctant as I'd heard they were heavier than the polycarbonate, but honestly - I can't tell the difference in weight over my polycarb coppers.
'Okay', I hear you say, 'but look at the price'! My response is 'yes, they are expensive, but what price your safety, eyesight and comfort'. A pair of Costa Del Mar shades could last you a lifetime and their styles and design are timeless so even when you look older your shades won't. Now I don't like to waste anything, especially money, but I'm happy to spend money on good gear that will last and Costas definitely do. I've got a drawer full of bust sunglasses but I've never had a pair of Costa shades break.
The Silver Sunrise lenses are not readily available in the UK but the good news is Coast2Coast sunglasses - https://www.coast2coastsunglasses.com not only offer a full range of styles and lens colours but also an excellent service. The staff are friendly and helpful and their deliveries are prompt. I'm reluctant to use offshore stores offering big discounts on branded stuff - you never know if it's genuine or fake. So if you are looking for a pair of genuine Costas I'd recommend Cost2Coast.
I had a good day out on the Dee last week with some other members of the Grayling Society. A cool, bright day with a slow start but as the morning warmed the fish started to move. Even though the river was running high and fast it was clear and most fish were caught on spider patterns and dry flies.
Even though there wasn't a hatch this beautiful 'lady of the stream' rose to take a Klinkhamer from the surface.
Guided fly fishing trips on rivers, streams and upland lakes in Snowdonia. and surrounding areas of North Wales.
Fishing for summer & winter grayling and wild brown trout.in the spectacular, tranquil countryside that is Snowdonia National Park.
Fly fishing and casting lessons for beginners. Casting fault analysis, single handed spey, slack line and presentation casting tuition for more experienced fly fishers.
Develop your watercraft skills on freestone rivers and upland lakes.