Blog, news and reviews from Snowdonia Fly Fishing Guides
Well we had some pretty wild weather in North Wales over the weekend as storm Ciara struck. The river levels rose rapidly and is 4 or 5 times higher than its normal height. This isn't helped by bunded banks to keep the river off of the flood plains. But I'm not getting into that old chestnut again, it just raises my blood pressure and nobody in the Welsh Government cares.
Today the temperature has dropped about 10 degrees and for a short time there was an impressive blizzard.
This isn't uncommon weather at this time of year but the outcome is that I can't go fishing as the rivers are too high and it's closed season on lakes. Still, there's always the barbel fishing in Spain later this year to look forward to.
Well after several weeks of high water the river has started to drop back and on Saturday it was still high but fishable, just.
The river was clear, cold, deep and had a proper push on it, combined with a down stream wind the wading was challenging and down right exciting at times.
The first fish was caught after about an hour and a few missed takes. The second came soon after, surprisingly a cast to a rising fish, took a good sized grayling that sipped a small spider on my top dropper. There followed another hour or so of fruitless searching before another spider, cast to another rising fish, brought another healthy grayling to the net.
Even though the river was fast and high it was clear and the fish took flies higher in the water column in preference to heavy bugs.
The total for the day was five grayling, all returned very quickly, and considering the conditions it was a good few hours.
As I write this a couple of days later the levels continue to drop, but very slowly.
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.
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.
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.
Bugs are the pulse of this planet, without them we would all perish very quickly, they are cleaners, pollinators and a food source for other creatures.
As I've mentioned previously insects are under great threat and we should make greater efforts to protect them. On land it's evident that they are not as prolific as they once were, but underwater they are out of sight and largely out of mind. Our aquatic invertebrates are being decimated by pollution from agriculture, industry and sewage treatment plants with a chemical cocktail that not only kills them and their eggs but also destroys the habitat they depend upon.
This cute little critter is a heptageniidae (or flat bodied stone clinger) that will mature in to a beautiful up-winged fly (mayfly). It spends most of its life clinging to the underneath of a stone in the river and cannot survive if there is too much silt or algae on the gravels that form the riverbed. They were once common on a part of the river I often fish but over the last 5 or 6 years they have become much more scarce. At the same time a dairy farm expanded its operation and is spreading large amounts of slurry onto the fields bounding the river. The nutrients and chemicals from the slurry finds it's way into the water and creates algae on the once clean gravels and fine suspended sediments that drift in the river, all of which is detrimental to aquatic life.
This little bug was carefully returned to it's watery home and I hope it gets the chance to mature, breed and sustain the fragile population that's trying desperately to survive in a man-made hostile environment.
Another satisfied customer
My client for the last couple of days had his first experience of fishing the Dee, something he's wanted to do for a long time, and it didn't disappoint.
The water levels are very low at the moment, lower even that during last years long hot summer and the river in places is on it's bones.. Finding the fish in this thin, poorly oxygenated water is challenging but thankfully I succeeded in getting him on to fish that were willing to take a well presented fly.
Thursday was a warm bright sunny day and the fishing was tough but there were a few willing to take a small nymph.
Friday was cooler and overcast and the fish were willingly taking subsurface flies and plenty rising to a dry.
Being prepared to keep moving to find the fish and recommending different tactics to catch them is all part of the job and it's very satisfying when it all comes together and clients go away happy.
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.
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.
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.
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 weather up here is changing and getting a little cooler.
On Sunday I was fishing around Bangor on Dee with a mate, the sky was overcast and there was a definite nip in the air when we started fishing. We were quickly off to a good start with grayling and 'spotties' keen to take a fly. I was fishing a team of spiders and Craig fishing a single dry.
By lunchtime we'd both caught into double figures and after a well deserved break we were off for round two. Unfortunately during lunch the cloud burnt off, the sun came out, temperature soared and the fish quickly lost their appetite.
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.