Blog, news and reviews from Snowdonia Fly Fishing Guides
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.
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.
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.
Although it's not quite winter it was a cold, clear day yesterday and the temperature barely got above freezing. The fishing, though not easy, did prove to be productive. Since the weather, and water temperatures have cooled the fish are a lot more feisty. These lively little grayling were just two of several caught on a variety of flies from beaded nymphs, through spiders to dries.
It's not unusual to catch out of season wild spotties when fishing for grayling. This beautiful specimen of a river Dee wild brown trout was quickly released unharmed.
Another lump of a grayling caught by a satisfied client last week. This one rose to take an elk hair caddis.
Now I freely admit that Euro/Czech/French (call it what you will) nymphing isn't my favourite way to catch grayling, but it can be effective.
Personally I like to cast a fly line when I'm fishing and get as much pleasure casting as I do catching fish, and tossing a team of nymphs just doesn't do it for me, I find nymphing boring (there I said it)!
But it is a very useful tool to have in your angling armoury and when the fish are in deep fast water it's a technique I employ to great effect.
Had a few hours on the river Dee yesterday, for most of the time it was lashing down with rain and a biting cold wind was blowing but the colder weather encouraged the fish to feed. Most were smaller grayling and 'spotties' but all were lively and good sport
Grayling are a surprisingly delicate fish, they fight hard but it takes a lot out of them.
Please handle them with care, respect and minimise their time out of water, give them time to recover whilst supporting them and allow them to swim away under their own steam. Do not pull them backwards as this forces water through their gills the wrong way and can lead to foreign bodies entering their gill covers.
I now use a chest mounted GoPro that allows me to take pictures or videos without having to mess about with a hand held camera.
Well the 2018 - 19 season got off to a great start. Whilst it was a wet day it was most definitely not a damp squib. The river levels are still low but the water temperature has dropped bringing the fish out of their stupor. In amongst the profusion of salmon parr and small brownies were some large 'ladies of the stream' with a hunger that needed to be satisfied.
The weather here is amazing. After a long, very cold winter and cool wet spring we've had weeks of unbroken hot, sunny weather. The rivers and lakes are low but surprisingly productive with brown trout, sea trout, grayling regularly being caught along with the occasional smolt.
I love summer fishing, there's not a lot better than standing waist deep in a river, fishing a dry fly, with the sun beating down.
The last few weeks have seen spectacular hatches of aquatic and terrestrial flies and the sport has been excellent. Long may it continue.
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.