Saturday June 2nd, 2018
George and I popped over to Corwen in North Wales for a couple of hours today to have a quick fish on Chain Pool. When we arrived we saw a few fish rising so got started with the dry flies. There were a few fish tucked in against the river cliff on the opposite bank which were feeding steadily, but I was struggling to present a fly to them without it dragging and I didn't get many rises as a result. The two I did get, I missed...
George had switched to a squirmy wormy and had got a couple of pulls, so I thought I'd try the French leader method and see if there were any fish subsurface that I could tempt instead. However, this proved tough going, with only a gentle pluck to show for thirty minutes of casting. We decided to have lunch instead. While we were tucking into our sandwiches, a big salmon - maybe 12-15lb - leapt from the water right where we'd been fishing!
Just a couple of minutes later, it moved again while almost simultaneously two other salmon leapt further down the beat. With no salmon gear with us today, we figured we may as well give it another half hour on the dries, but this too turned out to be hard going. Maybe next time we come we should make sure we've always got the salmon gear in the boot! At least it's a good sign that the salmon are in the Dee at the moment, though. We'll continue to cross our fingers that we get lucky again this season.
Final score: Nil nil.
Sunday 3rd June, 2018
We were out of the door by half six this morning for a trip to a new venue to us - Foremark Reservoir. This large fishery is set in the Derbyshire countryside and is run by the same team that also looks after Draycote and Eyebrook. Conditions upon arrival weren't the greatest - it was bright and sunny and as flat as a mill pond.
We started off by the dam wall fishing buzzers on a washing line rig with a CDC hopper on the point. However, nothing was moving there so we headed to the area in front of the sailing club. Casting to rising fish didn't seem to work and nor did attaching a blob to the point and letting the buzzers sink deeper, so George motored us off around the corner.
As it was now starting to get very warm and sunny and the water was still flat calm, we figured we'd try the "cascade" area on the far side. This has a fast current of incoming water so there's lots of oxygen and probably lots of food. In fact, there's a clear scum lane on the surface and we found more fish here than anywhere else on the lake.
Success came when we set up a drift up from the inflowing water and then drifted down the bank, fishing our flies into the scum lane. The water at Foremark is very clear and you can see the bottom ten feet down, so it was great fun to watch the odd fish chasing the fly on the way back in. On two consecutive casts, I had easily ten fish smashing at the boobie on my Di3 line! However, they weren't easy to hook. A couple stayed on for a few seconds, but I'd clearly not set the hook well enough at distance.
Meanwhile, George was testing a minkie he'd bought in the lodge. Fishing it on an intermediate line, he was using a short jerky retrieve and was getting plenty of interest - eventually resulting in a lovely little rainbow. Additional drifts failed to reveal any further fish and, as we were sweltering in the heat, we decided to call it a day at lunchtime.
Final score: Matt 0, George 1.
Saturday June 9th, 2018
After doing our chores, George and I popped over to Corwen to meet up with some of the Corwen and District Angling Club members who were hosting the annual Hanak Open Day on the Berwyn Arms beat near Carrog. It's the first time we've fished this beat. You access it by driving down a track, then opening up a couple of gates and crossing the railway line used by the Llangollen Steam Railway.
There are lots of named pools and runs on this fairly lengthy stretch and the wading ranges from shallow and fairly safe to much deeper and trickier. After catching up, we tried our luck with the Euro nymphing gear on the Taylor's Pool stretch - with Tim Wood and Gary Hedges fishing alongside.
It proved a tough day, with only a few bites, but we did get some excellent tips from the regulars on where to fish and what techniques to use. Nigel and Paul from the club were great with George and managed to really help him improve his technique with the nymphs, so this is bound to help on future sessions.
Final score: Nil nil.
Sunday 10th June, 2018
Seeing as it was another hot one, we decided to head somewhere where it's generally a little colder - Llyn Brenig. Conditions were really poor for fishing - it was hot, sunny and as flat as a millpond, so we figured we'd just stay for a few hours and then head back home.
Unfortunately, the boat we'd been assigned wasn't the best one. Although it had a drogue, there were neither any clamps nor any attachment points, so when we did find a bit of breeze, we were spinning around and drifting far too quickly, which made the fishing even more challenging.
After trying pretty much every method going, we eventually tried fishing boobies on a Di3 as static as we could on the bottom. Three or four fish hooked up in an hour, but we couldn't get any of them to the net. Eventually, when we were starting to cook in the boat, we decided to call it a day.
We figured we'd give it one last go from the beach by the jetty when we moored up at the end of the session. This was well worthwhile. The margins were filled with shoals of tiny perch which were being preyed upon by shoals of larger ones.
We caught a dozen on various flies between us and saw some fish of several pounds mouth our flies! Both of us managed to lose a pike each too. Spectacularly, George's pike chased the perch he'd hooked out of the water and took the fish mid-air as it leapt! If it wasn't for the people who decided to come along and throw dozens of rocks into the water right in front of us, the fishing might have continued to be good, but the fish unsurprisingly found this a bit annoying, so the shoal quickly moved off, ending our fun.
Final score: Matt 5, George 7.
Saturday June 16th, 2018
It was the annual trip to Oswestry in Shropshire today for the British Fly Casting Club competition event. Conditions were not as good as previous years - the grass was about a foot tall, which made casting a bit harder than usual!
After having a bit of a practice session and getting some great tips from Sekhar Badhur, we got down to competition. George was first up and was aiming to set a new British under 13 record in the 55g salmon event. Given his small stature and frame, the rod was something of a handful, but he managed to get a number of good casts in, thanks to James Evans' helpful advice - with the end result being a record-setting 89-foot cast!
He had a crack at that 38g shooting head, but he decided the head weight was just too much for him to handle and decided not to try for the record, so I had a play instead. It's a real handful to cast! I managed 134' after just five minutes of playing around - some of the experts had been hitting nearly 200' in the earlier competition!
In the #7 competition, George hit a personal best of 86'3", while I got a PB 116' 3", which was only 6" behind Steve Parkes in third place, so I was pleased with that. Given that several of the casts I made bounced back, as I ran out of both the 120' line and the small amount of backing I could cram onto the reel, I reckon I'd have hit over 120'. I'd put 20' on my distance since this time last year, which given that I've still got lots of faults and a crap style, is not bad going (or just very lucky).
George managed another 80'+ cast in the ST27, while I hit 121' 3". However, in the #5 class, he beat me by about ten feet! I can see this becoming a regular occurrence. Next year, I have a feeling I may be getting beaten in other classes unless I can up my game! Paul Ainsworth's excellent coaching at the CADAC junior days have obviously been extremely effective. Thanks, Paul!
Sunday 24th June, 2018
We were back on the River Dee this morning for another CADAC junior fly fishing day. With just two junior participants today, it provided the opportunity for some in-depth one-on-one tuition from ace instructor Paul Ainsworth. Paul started off teaching the boys about rise patterns and using these to identify the right fly to use and the right place to cast. I learned a few things myself.
Apparently, when you watch a grayling rise to a fly, it often drifts back downstream from its upstream lie, so to have a chance of catching it when it returns to its lie, you need to cast well upstream, not at the spot where it rose. Trout apparently tend to stay in line with their lie, which is usually positioned around cover or rocks, but grayling live in shoals across the river bed and will often move off to the side of their lie a bit more readily than trout will.
After the lesson, we did a bit of kick sampling in the main river and in the margins. There were loads of nymphs around, from heptagenids and cased caddis to Rhyacophila-like caseless caddis.
We also caught a bullhead and literally - I am not exaggerating - thousands of baby trout and salmon. I'd assumed they were minnows as they were so abundant, but they were equipped with adipose fins. That's a good sign for plenty more fish to catch in a few years time.
The fishing method George was learning today was the klink and dink method. He was using one of Paul's lovely "stedge" sedge flies which have a green body and a buoyant wing of deer hair fibres. They float like corks and held up the little size 18 pink nymph being used for the dink very well. George got some tips on where to fish and how to reach the deeper hole in which the St. David's grayling are often found.
While George managed to miss a few fish, I did catch a couple of small trout downstream from him. Both of mine took the nymphs today - one on a Copper John and one on the pink nymph we borrowed from Paul. We went away equipped with some extra knowledge that we're sure will improve our catch rate on this beat and elsewhere!
Final score: Matt 2, George 1000+ (in a net)
Tuesday 26th June, 2018
With 30 degree temperatures forecast, it seemed like a good time to take a day off and head off fishing instead of sitting in an air conditioned office. So I drove over to Anglesey to meet my friend, Antony, for a day of rock fishing. When we met in Beaumaris in the early morning it was already boiling hot and conditions were a bit flat for bass, so we figured we go after wrasse and pollack instead.
We headed over to Rhoscolyn and walked along the beach and over the hill and scrambled down over the cliff-like rocks to reach the water. The tide was dropping off when we arrived and it was crystal clear. You could see the kelp beds beneath about 30-40 feet down! It felt more like the Med than Wales.
A few chucks on the fly rod - I was fishing a #6 with an intermediate line - revealed little in the way of predators, so I switched over to the Slash Vision LRF rod which I'd rigged up with a tiny 6g weight and a small size 12 hook on a paternoster style rig.
The ragworm bait attracted fish instantly. As ever with wrasse fishing, you get lots of bites, but you lose a lot of fish as they're brutal and dirty fighters intent on taking you into the rocks or kelp to snap you off.
When the first one came up to the surface after a short but strong fight, I was surprised that it was probably under a pound. Wrasse pull incredibly hard for their size! The bites came thick and fast all day, with over a dozen wrasse coming to the surface, mainly on the LRF gear, but also on the float.
As the tide went slack, I did also try the fly again. The fish were too deep to get to, and weren't coming up from the kelp to take the fly, so I resorted to cheating. I put on a bead head fly with a white marabou and flash tail and tipped it with a small chunk of ragworm.
A roll cast out to the deeper water and a long countdown saw the fly finally reach the top of the kelp bed. Seconds later the line started to move, I struck, and a wrasse was on. The fight was short but excellent on the #6 fly rod and it was great fun, even if it was cheating!
Saturday 30th June, 2018
After spending a sweltering day at home, George and I decided to pop out for a couple of hours on the Dee this evening. We thought we'd give the salmon a try at Chain Pool after having seen a few there earlier in the month, however, conditions weren't great - it was about 28°C when we arrived just after five and the river was low.
We'd taken a few rods with us this evening. I was using a #4 Loop Evotec and was fishing a little sedge fly, while George was going for the salmon with a Savage Gear Bushwhacker lure rod and a salmon spoon fitted with a single barbless hook. We started at the Bonwm Halt end of the beat and worked our way up.
Oddly, there was very little fish activity. A few strolls up and down the bank and some prospecting with the dry fly and a nymph in all the likely spots failed to reveal any fish. I had one pull on the dink, but that was it really. However, as George pointed out, it was a gorgeous evening to be out on the river, so the lack of fish was no hardship.