Dry weather at the start of the week allowed the river level to slowly drop off below 0.7m, which continued to attract anglers to the Llangollen beats in search of silver. However, catch reports have been thin on the ground and I have only heard of a couple of coloured fish being caught but I’m sure a few more have been banked. On Monday my son lost a grilse in Duncan’s Pool, on Tuesday Jeff Farrow caught a tagged dark hen salmon above the Meadows and Max had a salmon from the golf course beat. Encouragingly, however, there have been sightings of quite a few fish moving up river.
On Wednesday a weather front pushed in from the west and I thought the heavy rain was going to put the river out of commission for my planned outing on Thursday. Surprisingly, however the river remained clear and only rose a couple of inches, so it was “game on”. The plan for the day was to fish the golf course beat in the morning, pick Ludwig up in Llangollen after lunch and then fish the upper beat until night fall.
When I arrived at the first pool, Abergregan, on the golf course beat a local angler, Max, was fishing the tail with the spinner. So, I went to the head of the pool and fished down through it with a red Ally’s shrimp (size 10 double) on a floating line with a 15ft intermediate tip but all I caught was a small, greedy grayling. Max had been fishing for a couple of hours and had not seen any salmon moving.
Next I moved up river to fish through the Meadows, starting just above the gravel bank on the opposite side of the river.
After working my way down river a few yards I had a light take, which felt like a trout but when I lifted the rod the line went tight under the weight of a good salmon. The fish made several runs for freedom before it started to tire and then I guided it to the bank for Max to net for me.
After a very quick photo session the coloured cock fish (ca.12lbs) was safely returned to continue its journey. I continued fishing down through the pool to the tail but this didn’t produce any more action. It was now time drop in to see Alan and have some refreshments before picking Ludwig up in Llangollen.
For the remaining part of the day we fished the right bank of the river above Horseshoe Falls from the Pipe Pool to Dee Farm but didn’t connect with anything until we got there. At Dee Farm we agreed that Ludwig would first fish the tail, while I fished down from the head of the pool and then switch round. I only caught a small brown trout on the red Ally’s shrimp in the fast water at the head of Dee Farm and didn’t see any salmon as I worked my way to the tail. However, Ludwig had seen one salmon rise in the tail of the pool but had not managed to interest it with anything.
I started fishing down through the tail from above the fence with the red Ally’s shrimp on the floating line tipped with an intermediate leader. The pace of the river looked a little slow as the fly drifted over the slack water behind the large rock, so I used a slow figure-of-eight retrieve to speed up its movement. Almost immediately, there was a swirl and I initially thought a sea trout had taken the fly but when I lifted into the fish the rod bent round and it was clear I was into my second salmon of the day. After a good 10 minute fight I brought the salmon to the bank, which was expertly netted by Ludwig for me. We fished for another half-hour until the light faded but didn’t have any more success.
Saturday was my next outing on the Welsh Dee, with the plan of showing Ludwig the pools on the Llangollen golf course beat, which he had not yet fished. It had rained overnight but the river level in the morning was virtually unchanged at 0.73m (Manley Hall). We fished all the beat from Abergregan to the Sun Pool and back, using a variety of flies and line configurations, without any success on the salmon front. However, we did see at least six salmon running through the beat but they were just not interested in anything we had to offer. To avoid a complete blank I switched to fishing a team of wet flies for a while; to see if I could tempt any sea trout but just caught a grayling (1/2 lbs) and a small brown trout on a size 12 black hopper.
From mid-day onwards heavy rain had set in and by 6pm we were soaked and the river level had started to rise; by Sunday morning the river was in full spate again. There have been reports salmon arriving in Bala Lake early this year, presumably because the high water throughout September has helped them on their way. There was even a report that a pike angler fishing Bala caught a salmon on a mackerel strip!
Overall, my success this Thursday with two salmon on the fly brought my total to 4 salmon in September, the best month for a long while, which definitely made up for last week’s salmon drought. Hopefully, I will be able to add to this next week, which will be my last chance this season.
Thanks to those fellow anglers who have provided some fishing results for this article. If anyone else would like to contribute to this review then please send me a quick note to email@example.com with any photos by Sunday of each week and if appropriate I will add it to the weekly review.
Tight line until next week, Andrew (1/10/17)