Blog, news and reviews from Snowdonia Fly Fishing Guides
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.
Whilst I love fishing the rivers in the region I equally enjoy taking a walk up into the mountains in search of truly wild spotties (brown trout).
This stunning large upland lake is full of wild brown trout that only get to see an artificial fly on my rare visits. This isn't a long thin lake but the reflected hills give that impression.
Looking back to this time last year the weather was very different. Not the dank, dreary, mild, wet stuff we've had recently, but dry, bright and cold, with low, gin clear rivers.
As we approach the winter solstice I'm beginning to look forward to early March, with longer days and the start of the trout season. I always enjoy getting back onto the upland lakes to chase a few wild brownies.
Snowdonia, a great place to fish for grayling. No special tackle is needed, if you fly fish for trout you probably have all you need to fish for grayling. If you've never done it give it a try, it's addictive!
I was fishing the middle section of the Dee yesterday near Bangor on Dee. It was raining heavily and the normally crystal clear water was well coloured.
I really didn't hold out much hope of catching and the first hour yielded no results. However as the morning progressed a few flies started coming off and there were sporadic rises to them. This provided a real confidence boost and shortly thereafter I'm netting my first fish. The weather improved a little after lunch and I continued to pick up the occasional fish. Then late afternoon the sun came out and the river came alive for about an hour with small hatches of mayfly and olives and a big hatch of caddis.
I ended the day having caught at least a dozen fish, I lose count quickly, mostly on a dry fly. The perfect end to a hard days fishing.
As the river Dee meanders it's 70 miles from Bala Lake (llyn Tegid in Welsh), in Snowdonia National Park, it changes its character several times. In places it's a raging boulder strewn freestone river, in others it has the appearance of a chalk stream with dense ranunculus beds and and yet other areas where the riverbed is silted offering habitat for the enigmatic mayfly (Ephemeroptera). The one constant on this ever changing river is the fly fishing opportunities for grayling, brown trout, sea trout (sewin) and salmon.
What a stonking days fishing today! There is evidence that fishing during new moon and full moon cycles (even during the day) can be more productive than other times. Well I've got to tell you I believe it!
There was a full moon last night and the fishing today was amazing. Granted it was a slow start but at lunch time the fish started a feeding frenzy.
as usual I had the river to myself and In less than 3 hours I caught at least 15 grayling, I lost count after that. Most of these were smaller fish around 250mm, one measured over 300mm and the biggest was a monster (I couldn't get the whole fish in the photo)!
A fantastic day's sport and one I'll remember for a long time.
The grayling fishing in Snowdonia is stunning and as good as you'll find anywhere. The smile on this clients face says it all! (sorry video failed to load)
Not only has the weather been amazing, hot and dry with a pleasant breezy but it's been really busy.
Sunday at the Bala country fair was crazy. I was giving casting lessons all day and there was no let up. People were queuing up! It was brilliant. I went home totally dehydrated and exhausted, but I love doing game fairs
Monday, another scorching day and back to Bala for the day giving fishing and casting lessons on the afon Tryweryn. Fortunately water had been released into the river raising the levels. It was a real treat to be stood waist deep in cold water, bliss!
Tuesday, a little cooler and overcast today.The local rivers are struggling at the moment and in need of some serious rain to get the fish moving again. I was out guiding in the morning for a couple of guys. Having shown Steve and Bill a few likely hot spots I left them having brought three fish to the net successfully. I had a call later that evening from Steve who wanted to know where he could get some more of the flies I'd suggested as they'd had such a good day that the fish had hammered their stocks (13 or 14 fish between them)
I arranged to meet them this morning to replenish their supplies and give them a few of my hand tied 'Oshboshinator' flies. These are tied to my own recipe and work really well on the Dee but I've not used them anywhere else yet. I'll be keen to get some feedback.
The rest of the week is equally as busy with casting lessons.
I must make time to go fishing next week!
I've not posted for a while, I've been a little busy.
The fishing over the last few weeks has been good, very good in fact. Last week (Friday) one of the local rivers was teeming with fish, more rise forms than you could shake a wading staff at.
Today on the Dee it was windy and cool and the fishing stuttered before it got going. In the morning I had a few snatches at dries and nymphs but no solid takes.The afternoon was a very different story, the wind dropped, the temperature rose and the fish became more active. Even though there were lots of olives coming off the water there were few rising fish.
Nymphs definitely won out over dries and 4 grayling and a brownie was brought to the net in quick succession.
A good end to the day.
Should there be greater access to the countryside and rivers of Wales?
There is much heated debate at the moment on the issue of opening up even more areas of the countryside and waterways of Wales. I have listened to and been involved in many of the debates on this issue. My view is that there is sufficient free access to the countryside and no further changes are needed. If change has to happen it should be through VAAs (Voluntary Access Agreements) and not legislation. Many land and riparian owners, people who work in the countryside and on waterways and other interested parties have expressed concern that more access will lead to more abuse of our natural resources.
Over the last few months I have been corresponding with Welsh Assembly Members stating my views. A few of the replies I have had back suggest the way to deal with abuse is through better education and seem reluctant to talk about enforcement (presumably because this will cost money). However I don't believe education alone will work. I live on a smallholding that backs onto Open Access moorland. The dramatic and beautiful scenery is enjoyed my many walkers who respect the ecology and wildlife that struggles to survive in this harsh mountainous region. Unfortunately there are a small minority of people who spoil the enjoyment of the many by exercising their perceived rights by tearing up the moorland with mountain bikes, scrambling bikes, quads and 4x4s. They are not content to stick to well worn tracks but feel the need to churn up virgin areas in their quest for thrills, disturbing wildlife, other visitors and residents in the process. Fly tipping is another serious matter that blights the area. These people know they are not supposed to be abusing the moors in this way but continue to do it. No amount of education will help but a few well publicised prosecutions might.
Many livelihoods, including mine, will suffer if there are changes to allow greater access to the waterways as an irresponsible minority can, and will, not only ruin the enjoyment of the many but also damage fish breeding grounds. Local land and Riparian owners can more readily monitor and manage access through VAAs more effectively than politicians. I suggest the Welsh Assembly devote their time sorting out the management of the existing open access land instead of trying to open up yet more.
A well know fly fishing guide and instructor John can often be found fishing or guiding on the Welsh Dee or passing his knowledge to others at game fairs and country shows.
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.