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.
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.
Today's fishing was tough but with low clear water a few fish were encouraged to take a small spider.
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.
This is an great piece by ITV Wales on the problems of agricultural pollution in Wales. The Welsh Government claim to care for the environment but their inaction shows that their priority is supporting farming bad practice.
Another lump of a grayling caught by a satisfied client last week. This one rose to take an elk hair caddis.
Even when there is no hatch grayling are very willing to rise to a tasty morsel. This one took a size 16 Klinkhammer. My client's fin perfect and hard fighting first grayling brought a huge smile to his face.
The Grayling Society symposium and dinner is followed by an auction to raise money for the Grayling Research Trust. I had the privilege to successfully bid for a beautiful Rod Dibble split cane rod. It's a wonderful casting tool and plays a fish gently to the net. It's a pleasure to use and I'm confident I'll have many successful outings with it.
Just look at that face, cute or what? Bugs really are endearing little critters and this stonefly nymph proves the point.
Of great concern is that aquatic invertebrate numbers are collapsing at an alarming rate,
Riverfly insects have declined 59% since 1970, indicating poor water quality & an unstable food chain.** This is a growing problem not just in Britain but throughout Europe, Germany has recorded a decline of 75% in 27 years.
Not so long ago scraping squished bug gloop of the car windscreen was an essential task after a long drive, alas those days are gone. And this is worrying, not just because bugs are cute, but they are an essential part of the food chain for fish, birds and mammals.
**Source - Salmon & Trout Conservation
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.