This week the grayling fishing has been excellent on the Welsh Dee at Llangollen. A few sea trout have been caught but I have not had, seen or heard of any salmon being caught this week from either Llangollen or Bangor on Dee beats.
Heavy rain in the Welsh Dee catchment area at the end of last week pushed the river into full spate on Monday, with the level peaking at 0.9 metre (Manley Hall gauge). The weather settled down for the rest of the week, which allowed the river level to drop back. I was unable to go fishing until Thursday but based on conversations with other Llangollen-Mealor club members the river was in excellent order for spinning on Tuesday. However, they failed to connect with or see any salmon after fishing the river hard all day, which was disappointing to hear. On Wednesday the river had dropped off further but I still had not heard of anyone catching salmon on the Llangollen beats.
Thursday was my first outing on the river this week, with the fishing split between The Captain’s beat, below Bangor on Dee, in the afternoon and then above Horseshoe Falls on the left bank in the evening. The tides were still quite high at Chester and I was hoping that by fishing The Captain’s beat I could intercept any salmon coming into the system on the afternoon high tide. The river was in perfect condition for the fly (0.62m Manley Hall gauge) but weather was less than ideal (very bright and sunny). I fished thoroughly through several of the pools with the salmon fly but didn’t get any interest or see any salmon moving. There were several fish rising in the tail of Eel cottage so I switched to the wet fly and caught a couple of grayling on a size 14 March Brown spider; sometimes you just need a consolation prize to keep your spirts up.
Just before I left, I had a conversation with another angler who had been fishing the worm and not had or seen any salmon all day. Prior to this week’s spate he had caught a couple of salmon and lost two other fish on the worm. Therefore, based on this it seems that the salmon that were there have moved up river and very few fresh salmon have entered the system since.
For the evening, I drove up river to fish the left bank above Horseshoe Falls to see if I could catch sea trout. While waiting for the evening light to fail I fished the left bank of the glide below Duncans Pool with a team of wet flies (point: size 12, March Brown spider; middle dropper: size 14 Black Bopper; top dropper: size 12, Golden Sedge). Surprising, after a couple if cast a fish smashed the flies as they landed on the water and then took off down river. After a short struggle I guided a sea trout (ca. 1lb) into the net which had fallen for the Golden Sedge.
Fishing on further I caught a nice grayling and several small brown trout on the Black Hopper. At nightfall I moved up river and fished though Duncans Pool where I caught a greedy grayling on a size 8 Stoat’s Tail but no additional sea trout.
On Friday evening a weak weather front pushed in over Wales from the West but it only resulted in light rain fall, which had little effect on the river level (0.55m @ Manley Hall gauge). By Saturday morning most of the rain had passed and the forecast for the day was a cloudy start with the occasional showers, with the weather brightening towards the evening. This provided a good opportunity to show a new Llangollen club member, Ludwig, the club’s beat above Horseshoe Falls.
After explaining to Ludwig the plan for the day and making some dry fly recommendations from his fly box we walked up to the Pipe Pool to start fishing. Since Thursday, the colour in the river had disappeared and it was now running clear; a good sign for dry fishing.
Ludwig had only made a few casts into the fast run above the Pipe Pool before he was into his first Welsh Dee grayling. He continued with the dry fly and it wasn’t long before he had caught a few more grayling.
I decided to take a different approach of switching between the wet fly and Czech nymphs. At the head of the Pipe Pool I missed a few takes on the wet fly (point: size 14, March Brown spider; middle dropper: size 14 Black Bopper; top dropper: size 14, Dark Olive). Therefore, I switched to working a team of Czech nymphs through the fast run (point: size 12, Pheasant Tail nymph with a 3.5mm tungsten bead; middle dropper: size 16, pearl flash-back red nymph with a 1.5mm tungsten bead; top dropper: size 16 Hare’s Ear nymph). After a few cast I was into a good grayling which I had to guide down through the fast run into the slacker water. Then after a short struggle I managed to safely good grayling (ca.1lb) which had fallen for the red nymph.
We worked our way up river and Ludwig kept picking up grayling and the odd brown trout on the dry fly in most of the pools and pockets.
I fished through the fast riffle above the Glide Pool with the Czech nymphs and caught three more grayling on the red nymph; the best of which weighed about 1lb.
Continuing up river to the Top Pool we kept picking up grayling in the pockets up to and through Dee Farm. At the Top Pool I started fishing down through the fast riffle from the submerged boulders down past the large tree on the far bank. After the first few cast I was into another good grayling weighing about 1lb, which took the March Brown spider. Continuing down through the fast run I caught another six slightly smaller grayling and a few small brown trout.
Ludwig continued pick up grayling and brown trout with the dry fly while fishing up through the pool to the top of the fast riffle. While he was fishing the top of the riffle went down through the fast run again with a team of wet flies (point: size 10, Peter Ross, middle dropper: size 12, UV-blue spider; top dropper: size 12, green tag March Brown Spider) on a floating line tipped with a 7ft medium sink polyleader to see if I could tempt any sea trout. This change didn’t yield any sea trout but several more grayling and brown trout. All three flies caught fish but the UV-blue spider outperformed the other two flies.
Left to Right – March Brown Spider (green tag); UV-blue Spider, Peter Ross
After working through the fast run I moved down to fish the tail of the pool for the last 20 minutes to see if there were any active sea trout there. I caught a couple more grayling, before the line was then ripped out of my hand and I bent the rod into a good fish. When the fish surfaced I could see that it was another good grayling and not a sea trout. Surprising, the greedy grayling had taken the size 10 Peter Ross.
It was now 6.30pm and I was already late for dinner, so it was time to call it an end to an excellent day of grayling fishing for both of us. Overall, Ludwig was impressed with the quality of the grayling fishing on the Upper beat and beautiful scenery of the Welsh Dee valley.
I will be trying to keep me weekly reviews on how the Welsh Dee is fishing between Llangollen and Bangor on Dee. If anyone else would like to contribute to this review then please send me a quick note to firstname.lastname@example.org with any photos by Sunday of each week and if appropriate I will add it to the weekly review.
Finally, I would like to thank Alan for taking the time to clear the overgrown bankside vegetation of the Top Pool that morning because it made fishing that pool much more easy. Hopefully, this will encourage a few more anglers to fish that pool because the extra traffic will inhibit regrowth of the vegetation.
Tight lines till next week, Andrew Overend (13/8/17)