Sunday December 1st, 2019
You know it's going to be a cold one when you have to pour hot water on the door seals to get into the car and then the screen refreezes while you're defrosting the other windows. Thankfully, the temperature had risen six degrees to a much more bearable 0°C by the time we arrived at Ellerdine Lakes for the annual Fur and Feather match.
There was a really good turn out today with the car park as full as we've ever seen it and the lakes jam-packed with fly fishers from all of the country. As the horn sounded to start the match, we headed over to Lakemoor where I'd opted for a freshly tied black UV leech and George had gone for an Ellerdine Enigma. I got lucky and was into a nice rainbow within the first ten minutes, but we weren't really getting any bites or follows, so we wandered off to try the other lakes.
Lakemoor seemed to be fishing well, as did Meadow early on, with some anglers taking four or five fish from the usual productive areas of the lakes. I missed a chance on Meadow, but that was the closest either of us came to a fish before we stopped for lunch. George had already resorted to targeting the perch in the margins and was pulling them out on buzzers, but sadly they wouldn't count today.
By afternoon, we were getting a bit frustrated as we were struggling a bit. I'd tried a number of different methods but eventually took the advice of owner Ed Upton, who suggested I switch to an apps bloodworm and a cormorant and try fishing deeper. That did the trick. In the next half hour I missed two fish and eventually took one by stripping very quickly just below the surface.
There were a few fish in the top corner of the lake who would chase, so I tried roly polying for a while. Two fish connected briefly but I failed to keep them attached. George was struggling to get any interest at all, so I put down my rod to see if we could figure it out together. Finally, we managed to get him one, which was a great relief. It was a nice fish too at just a shade under three pounds and was enough to win him the junior competition.
He picked up some great prizes in the raffle too and won a superb line for winning the match. Thanks very much to the Upton family and George Heaton for their hospitality.
Monday December 2nd 2019
It was an icy start to the day with -6°C temperatures. The doors needed hot water pouring on them before they'd open, the ice was thick on both sides of the windscreen and it took an age to remove. Sadly, after all of the de-icing rigamarole, the Land Rover decided it was a bit too cold and spluttered to a stop, so I took my sensible car instead...
I arrived at St. David's in Carrog just after sunrise, when it was still -4°C. The weather was beautiful. Everything was covered in a thick layer of frost, there were loads of pheasants running about in the field and a couple of red kites flying overhead. I got started towards the middle of the beat with a few nymphs and worked my way slowly downstream.
Despite trying to target the grayling, the first two fish were actually out of season brown trout, which I slipped back quickly. The first grayling took a Chewing Gum Cased Caddis in some deeper, faster water. It looked like the fish had moved from where we'd found them last time. I managed to find another fish in the same area, but then everything went quiet, so I moved up and down the beat trying other likely-looking spots.
The cold weather didn't seem to be helping things today, with the grayling proving much harder to tempt than on our last trip. After defrosting myself with a hot cup of tea, I tried some more of the deeper, faster water. For two consecutive casts I had what I thought was a small tap, and then on the third cast everything locked up. I wasn't sure at first quite what I'd hooked, as the fish initially didn't move. It wasn't until I felt the characteristic head shaking that I knew it was a decent grayling. It really put up a good scrap on the new Guideline LPS rod and was using the current to put quite a bend in the rod.
I lasted until lunch before my wet legs were starting to feel numb, so I packed it in, finishing up with two trout and four nice grayling. Not bad, given the weather, and far more enjoyable than spending the day in the office!
Sunday 8th December 2019
We arrived at Llandegla Fishery in North Wales just after 9am to find it looking quite bleak and windswept. A howling gale force wind was blowing across the lakes, making for some tricky casting, but the fish did seem to be on the feed.
We caught consistently all morning. The first fish was a solid four-pound rainbow which took my black humungus fished on a sink tip line. The second fish - also mine - was a cracking tiger trout which fell to the same fly, this time on the drop.
George connected with a couple by failed to land either of them. After a quick break for a warming hot drink and some cake in Llandegla's excellent cafe, his luck changed and he was soon catching up with me. Two nice blue trout quickly brought him to level pegging, while another rainbow eventually put me a fish ahead.
Conditions were getting quite grim, with the rain setting in and the wind really picking up, but the fish weren't as put off as we were. We ended up with four fish each, which wasn't bad for a few hours in some unpleasant weather.
Saturday 28th December, 2019
Due to illness we'd not fished for a few weeks, so popped over to Tan-Y-Mynydd in North Wales for a few hours this morning. The weather was cold and breezy and the water crystal clear. After missing a fish on my first cast using a black UV lure, I eventually landed my first fish - a two-pound rainbow on one of the lower lakes.
After getting some helpful tips from owner, Martin, we slowed down our retrieves and fished larger flies in the deeper water. This worked quite well, for me, anyway. While chatting to Martin I missed a number of bites and then hooked a very strong fish. It took my fly on the drop and then shot off at some speed towards the two islands. I had to put side-strain on to stop it and eventually scooped it up after a good few minutes of tussling.
George was trying lots of different methods but, although he was getting bites, he struggled to catch today. I ended up with three fish, which wasn't too bad. Nice to get out on the bank again and have some fresh air.