Welsh Dee Grayling Galore But No Brown Trout – May 2017

After the hottest weak of the year so far, the weather finally broke on Friday night with a thundery weather front pushing in for the west. On Saturday morning the sky was overcast and looking like rain. My plan for the day was to fish Captain’s and Sutton Green beats at Bangor on Dee until mid-afternoon then drive up to Llangollen and fish Ddoll-isaf until about 8pm. After an early start I pulled into the main car park at Rodens Hall at about 8.30am. It was still cool (15°C) and looking like rain so I took my wading jacket and my fleece with me, which would prove to be a mistake, and headed off up river to Eel Cottage.

The overnight rain had not made any effect on the river condition, with it still at its summer level (0.45m @ Manley Hall gauge) and running clear. At Eel Cottage I saw a couple of small fish rising in the tail of the pool so I decided to target them with the double dry (sight fly: size 12, Elk Hair Caddis with a cream tag and point fly: size 18, Griffth Gnat). After a couple of cast a fish rose to the Caddis but my strike didn’t connect with it. Over the next 20 minutes I managed to elicit a number of other offers to the dries but didn’t connect with any properly. Basically, the fish were drowning the fly with an open mouth so when you struck it was pulled clean out or at best lightly hooked in the side but then came out in the initial struggle. Frustrated with these crafty fish, I head off up river to the fish Fletchers Run.

On my way up river to Fletchers Run I noticed a shoal of big chub on the surface under the willows at Sand Martins, which looked like they were getting ready to spawn.

I didn’t see any fish rising in Fletchers Run so I decided to fish through this fast run with a team of Czech nymphs (point: size 14 Peacock herl caddis with a red tag and 2.5mm tungsten bead; middle dropper: size 16, 2mm tungsten bead Hare’s Ear; top dropper: size 18, 1.5mm gold tungsten bead red nymph). I worked my way the full length of the run but surprisingly, only managed one small grayling on the Hare’s ear; probably, because the sky had cleared and the sun was beaming down.

At this point I was also regretting taking my fleece and wading jacket because I had a long walk to the Wall Pool. On my journey up river I saw at High Bank another shoal of large chub cruising under the shade of the Willows and getting ready to spawn; some of the chub were in the 4lbs+ bracket.

At the top of the Wall Pool I started fishing down through the pool with the team Czech nymphs but it wasn’t until the very last part of the tail before I had a take. After a short struggle a nice 3/4lb grayling was guided into the net; that had fallen for the red nymph.

Next I walked up river and fished through Sutton Straights with the Double Dry and Czech nymph setups but didn’t get any takes. It was still very sunny but to complicate the fishing a strong, gusting upstream wind had also developed. Therefore, I headed back to the car for a spot of lunch.

During lunch I decided to stick to the plan and drive up to fish the Ddol-isaf beat just before Llangollen, because in the wooded section there is pool that is sheltered from the wind and sun. I got there at about 2.30pm and there were a couple of anglers just heading off above the cottage (I think the Russian’s I met last year). After setting the rods up I decided to follow them up river and hopefully they wouldn’t go into the woods. As I walked up above the cottage pool I decided to give the two short holes ago and I was surprised how deep the water was in both of them.

I went through with the czech nymphs but only had one pull which I didn’t connect with properly. I made a mental note to fish these two areas the next time I come here, especially when it is not as sunny.

After this little interlude I made my way up into the wood passed the two Russians were fishing the tree lined section from the far bank. About half way up in the wood there is a deep (10ft+) that is about 20 metres long and is often shaded from the sun.

I worked my way up through the pool with covering the likely lies with the double dry (size 12 Adams and size 18 Griffith Gnat) but this didn’t stimulate any interest. So I went to the head of the pool and worked my way down through it with the team of Czech nymphs. About half-way down the line stopped and I lifted into a good fish, which turn out to be a descent grayling that had fallen for the red nymph.

Continuing down through the pool I lost the next fish and caught two more which were slightly smaller than the first; one on the red nymph and the other on the Hare’s Ear.

At the end of the pool I switched to the wet flies (point: size 14 March Brown spider; middle dropper: size 14 black hopper; top dropper: size 14, Iron Blue Dun), and continued down through the riffle to the end of the wood but just caught a few salmon parr on the March Brown Spider. It was not 5pm so I went back to the car for a brew before heading off down river to fish Mill Run to finish off the day.

Starting in the fast just above the old mill I fished down through the fast riffle into the pool with the team of wet flies. This produced a few small trout and grayling mainly on the March Brown Spider. In the body of the pool I noticed a couple of fish rising under the pylons. As soon as my flies covered this area I had a good take and my rod bent into a nice grayling, which took the Iron Blue Dun. Working my way to the tail of the pool produced a couple of small grayling all on the Iron Blue Dun.

By the time I had got to the tail of the pool it was 7pm and I was already late for dinner, so I called it a day. Overall, the bright conditions had made the fishing difficult but by “chopping & changing” techniques and places I managed to end up with a few good grayling for my efforts.

Tight lines till next time, Andrew Overend (27/5/17)

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