Blog, news and reviews from Snowdonia Fly Fishing Guides
Sunday was a cold, frosty, dull, misty day with not a breath of wind. Still, at least it wasn't raining, and the river had dropped.
I didn't fish for long, just a few hours but had a pretty good outing, 11 grayling, of a variety of sizes and 5 rose to a dry, all took a small Griffith's gnat.
It's good to see these smaller grayling, they are fit, muscular and good sport. Juvenile fish is an indication of active recruitment and a positive sign, I worry when all I catch is large fish as it suggests there are no youngsters to replace them.
That said I did catch a couple of lumps too, I've heard it said that big grayling don't take a dry fly, I completely disagree.
Even though the water was high and fast, there were still a few fish rising and willing to take a dry fly.
The weather has been cold, wet and windy and the water is thick with leaf litter as trees shed their leaves in readiness for winter. It never ceases to amaze me how, in amongst the general autumnal detritus, the fish can spot a size 16 or 18 Griffiths gnat and pluck it from the surface. However, the success rate was low, the fish missed 3 or 4 to every one caught, not surprising really given the speed of the river.
It's good to see a good range of grayling sizes. Some years ago there were many big fish on this stretch of water but few smaller ones, that was followed by a few lean years with very few grayling caught. So it's good to see this year has a healthy population of grayling throughout the age ranges.
It's a dreary, wet day today, not the sort of weather to be working outside and with the dogs walked there's not much to do.
Even though we are getting heavy rain the river has dropped so with luck I'll get out this weekend. I've spent a couple hours tying a selection of small floss spiders to tempt a hungry grayling or two. These brightly coloured little flies stand out well in the dark water and have been successful for me previously.
Yesterday I finally finished my latest fibreglass rod, I don't build enough to justify having specialist equipment, so the process takes me quite a while. I really don't need another rod but like the challenge of building them.
This is an 8 ft (2.44 m), 4 piece, 5 weight. Built on a translucent silver grey blank with a 'cracked ice' acrylic reel seat and dark coffee agate stripping guide. I've used single leg guides on this build, as opposed to the double leg snakes I usually use, as I wanted to see the difference in performance.
This afternoon I gave it a test drive on grass and was pleased with the speed and action. River levels permitting I'm looking forward to giving it its first outing over the weekend and really putting a bend in it
The day started out pretty bleak, but undaunted by the conditions, my clients from America wanted to fish a wild trout upland lake. Fortunately the day improved, apart from a pretty brisk wind. Both were successful in catching on wet flies, and as the afternoon sun put in a brief appearance, dry flies accounted for a few more.
Fishing in Snowdonia on a windy, wet autumnal day. But as the saying goes 'there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing'. Fortunately there's some excellent kit available to keep anglers warm and dry no matter the conditions.
30 September is the last day to fish for brown trout in the rivers of this region, but many of the upland lakes can be fished until mid October. The season reopens on 3 March.
At this time of year my thoughts turn to the winter grayling season and the fly patterns I tie are geared towards what will tempt them.
The rivers are even higher than last week and rising fast, as I write this the level is 25% higher than this time yesterday. I was fortunate to know a small tributary that was just about fishable but the wading was hard going and the rain was biblical, I fully expected to see animals walking along the bank two by two.
Nonetheless, there were a few fish willing to have a go at a fly. This one took a brass beaded nymph tied on a size 14 hook. This is a good size for a wild brown trout in this region, so I was really pleased I persevered, but as soon as one this was safely returned I called it a day.
Whilst the Dee is justifiably renowned for its grayling fishing, every now and again a beautiful wild spottie rears up to take a fly. This one took a small white spider as soon as it touched the water.
Not a great picture but I'm more interested in getting the fish back in the water as quickly as possible, so I don't do posed shots of the fish I catch.
The fishing today was really tough. The river was high, but clear, and pushing hard. My buddy and I fished hard all morning to no avail. I had a few knocks but no firm hook ups.
Then for just a few minutes there was a hatch and a small rise of fish upstream and in a sheltered pool. In just a few minutes I'd netted 4 grayling, a spottie and a salmon parr, two small grayling were caught on the same cast, one took the point fly the other the top dropper.
After lunch, we fished a tributary of the main river and picked up several more. Sometimes determination and perseverance pays off.
The last few years there was a profusion of dragon flies in and around my pond, but this summer not so many. There were plenty of nymphs and empty shucks in the pond so why no adults?
Then one afternoon I saw a sparrow successfully plucking a beautiful, iridescent blue, broad-bodied chaser from the air, a feat of considerable acrobatics that provided a significant feast for one of the bird's young brood. So the mystery was solved.
Having finished breeding the sparrow colony has dispersed, giving the late hatching invertebrates a chance. Yesterday I watched as a common hawker emerged from her nymphal case (shuck) to dry herself before flight. I wish her well in finding a mate to complete the cycle of life.
The hawthorn fly (Bibio marci), heather fly (Bibio pomonae) and black gnat (Bibio johannis) Hatches of these terrestrial flies are fairly common here, though short lived. The first to appear in the spring in the hawthorn, or St Mark's, fly. Some years the hatches can be spectacular but seem to have diminished over the last few years.
Next up is the heather fly that usually put in an appearance, but in smaller numbers, in the middle of summer. They are just as ungainly in flight as the hawthorn fly, but are usually a little smaller and have strikingly red thighs.
Black gnats can be seen in spring, summer and autumn sometimes in impressive numbers and locally I see the biggest hatches in late September and October.
They are all an important food source for trout and grayling as they are often blown onto the water, singly or sometimes in pairs, joined in mating.
It's always a pleasure to take our friends from America out. Reid and Dylan were great company and good anglers, successfully catching several spotties and grayling. I wish them well for the rest of their holiday and a safe journey back to the U.S.
This time last year we were in the middle of a heat wave with temperatures over 15 degrees Celsius warmer than today. Whilst we've not had much rain the last few weeks and the rivers has been at summer lows, storms over the weekend lifted them significantly.. They are still high but just fishable and with plenty of fresh water and food the fish have become decidedly lively.
A well known 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 in North Wales
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 lessons in North Wales
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.