For my last fishing trip in April I decided to see if any salmon had come into the Welsh Dee on this week’s big spring tides (3.9 metres at Chester), which gives them a free ride over Chester Weir. The river had now run off to its summer level (0.41m at Manley gauge) but even at this level fish have no problem getting into the lower beats at Bangor on Dee; so I was hopeful.
The weather had been cold during week with a north-easterly wind but on Saturday morning it had swung round to a warmer south-westerly. However, it was a still a cool start but forecast to warm up as the day progresses. After an early start I pulled into Rodens Hall car park at about 9am.
My plan for the day was to work my way up river to the top of The Captains beat. The first port of call was to fish the tail of the Car Park pool (map point 1) down into the head of the next pool; with my salmon rod loaded with a floating line tipped with a 15ft brown sink-tip, 15lbs fluorocarbon and a Snaedla fly (black and yellow) (German). I worked my way thoroughly through the pool and into the undercut on the near bank but that didn’t stimulate any interest.
Next I walked up river to fish the run before the first style (map point 2), where there are some deep lies either side of the submerged remnants of an old wall that extends downstream into the centre of the river.
I worked through this section with no interest. I got snagged and lost my fly on the submerged wall and at this point moved up to Eel Cottage (map point 3).
While I was studying the pool to see if any fish were rising and giving their location away, another angler, Nigel I think, came walking up the bank. During our conversation I learnt that he had fished this beat for a few years and has started to understand this stretch of river quite well. He explained that the tail of Eel Cottage and the bend above produces a few sea trout to spider pattern when fished close to the bushes on the far bank as the light starts to fade.
During out conversation I noticed some grayling rising in the tail so I set up the trout rod with a team of wet flies (point: size 14, March Brown Spider; middle dropper: size 14, Black Hopper; top dropper: size 16, Dark Olive). I couldn’t see what the grayling were taking something from the surface but eventually I tempted a nice grayling (c.a. ¾ lb) on the Black Hopper.
After missing a few other rising fish I changed the top dropper to a size 12, Elk Ear Caddis dry fly. This turned out to be a good shout because I caught another 3 fish of the caddis fly as I working my way down through the run into the fast of the next pool.
Next I made my way up river heading for the top of the beat. At the Big Bend Pool I noticed a few fish rising in the tail (map point 4). I carefully made my way down the steep bank and covered the fish with the dry fly; almost immediately the fly disappeared and I was in to a nice grayling which had taken the Caddis fly. After this I continued up river to the pool with the wall on the far side (map point 5).
This pool is a good salmon holding spot, with the fish lying close to the submerged section of the old wall on the far bank. Therefore, I went down through the pool casting the fly as close to the wall as possible but this didn’t produce anything. While fishing down through the pool I noticed a few fish rising close to the far bank, probably grayling.
So I worked my way down through the pool again with the team of wet flies. Opposite the first break in the wall a good fish smashed the wet flies. After a short struggle a good grayling (ca.1.5lb) which had fell for the Black Hopper.
I worked my way down through the rest of the pool and caught a couple of small grayling. It was now 5pm so I decided to call it a day and head off home for dinner and a few drinks.
Despite the lack of salmon, overall I had a good day’s fishing with a few nice out of season grayling, which must have spawned early this year. Anyway, tight lines till next time.
Andrew Overend (29/4/17)