Fly fishing diary: November 2019

We fish for grayling on the River Dee, go pike fly fishing on the canal and take a few trips to our favourite winter fly fishing venue Ellerdine Lakes in Shropshire.

Fly fishing diary: November 2019
© Fly and Lure
Fly fishing diary: November 2019
Picture copyright © Fly and Lure
Fly fishing diary: November 2019
Estimated reading time 10 - 16 minutes

Saturday, 2 November 2019

George and I were back at Ellerdine Lakes in Shropshire today for the England Youth Fly Fishing Team Captain's Day. It's a chance for new team members, like George, to meet the other team members and for the former team members to say farewell, pass on their thanks to the old captain and welcome in the new one.

We had a quick fish before the rest of the team arrived.

We arrived a bit early so we could have a fish before everyone else arrived and were fishing both Cranymoor and Meadow lakes. I took a nice fish early on from the corner of Cranymoor and missed a few others on Meadow, but George, as per usual, was having greater success. He'd spotted that Rob Edmunds and son Albert were catching with a speedy retrieve so started pulling more quickly. Pretty soon, he'd taken a couple of fish and missed some chances on a couple of others.

George found a good method early on.

While the parents were going over the paperwork and preparing the logistics of getting the team and all of their kit over to Ireland next year for the internationals, the Youth Team were paired off and fished a short match to end the day. George was paired with Albert Coales (Rob Edmunds' son) so had a strong chance. The two of them both managed to catch a fish apiece, coming in joint second place with a few other pairs, but it was Harrison Douds and partner William who took the first place spot.

George and Albert came joint second in the match.

We enjoyed a great day meeting the other team members and their parents and are looking forward to the training sessions later next year. Many thanks to Ellerdine Lakes, Andy Taylor and Craig Barr for putting the event on and congratulations to new captain Felix Gould and vice captain Elliot Guthrie on being selected. Also, special thanks to Rob Edmunds and Albert for the very generous handful of their flies they donated over lunch!

Sunday, 3 November 2019

With me being too tired for the planned trip to Llyn Brenig we popped up to canal for a couple of hours instead to see if we could find any pike. It was the first time we'd fished this stretch, so we were really just exploring any spots which looked like they might hold pike or perch.

The pike weren't too hard to find.

Our instincts were obviously fairly good, as I had a couple of sharp pulls - which I missed - while fishing on one stretch and then nearly hooked a nice fish while trying out the basin. Stupidly, I didn't hang the fly at the end of the cast and as I lifted it off to re-cast, a pike surged forwards and tried to grab it mid-air. Needless to say, I nearly had a heart attack when it did!

Nothing beats the adrenaline rush you get when a pike smashes the fly at the end of the cast.

While we went home fishless, it was a lovely autumnal day to be out on the bank and it made a nice change from the trout fishing we've been doing most of the year.

Sunday 10th November, 2019

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday we were back out after the pike, but it was freezing cold, sleeting and blowing a gale and we only lasted an hour before George became too cold to continue.

A chilly start at Ellerdine.

By contrast, today was delightful. Still very cold and frosty but a really lovely day with bright sunshine and little wind when we arrived at Ellerdine. As you'd expect for still and bright conditions, the fishing wasn't easy. We'd opted for two rods as usual, one with a floating line and one with an intermediate.

George's first fish fell to the Enigma.

George was first to catch after a lovely little rainbow took his Ellerdine Enigma. I'd had a few pulls by mid-morning but was still on no fish by the time we stopped for breakfast.

A move to Cranymoor and a change of method brought near-instant results. A blob on the point and two small buzzers on the droppers of a straight-lined rig saw my line pull tight as the flies dropped through the water. George switched over to buzzers too and was getting quite a bit of interest, but was struggling to hook them.

This one took the buzzer.

He eventually managed another fish on the buzzer, only to switch back to the intermediate to target some fish seemingly chasing fry in the margins. After George had a follow and then missed a fish on the hang, I copied his method with a white zonker taking me my second fish. Not a big bag, but two each on a tough day was good enough and the weather was simply stunning.

Saturday 16th November, 2019

We had a very early start today for a nearly three-hour drive over to Ripon in North Yorkshire for the last British Fly Casting Club event of the year, which was being held at Marina Gibson's Northern Fly Fishing School on the beautiful Swinton Estate.

Marina Gibson's Northern Fishing School is located on the stunning Swinton Estate.

We certainly don't view ourselves as "proper" competition fly casters but do enjoy going along and seeing if we can improve our skills - it's great fun and the techniques you pick up can improve your fishing too. The day started off with the accuracy event in which you cast your "fly" (actually a piece of fluff for safety reasons) at a series of four targets. This might sound easy, but you have to shorten and lengthen your line to reach the targets while the fly is in the air, which is definitely not easy.

James Evans had been really helpful and made George a special child-sized shooting head for one of the events.

George managed to get 20 points in this (he holds the current record at 22, with the under 18 record placed at 21). I managed 27, but there were some very big numbers scored today, with Tracy Evans breaking the women's record with a magnificent 44 points score. 

James competing in the accuracy event.

We both also had a go with the very big outfits. The T120 (a 120g shooting head line which is cast using an 18' double-handed rod), an S55 (a 55g salmon shooting head cast on a double-hander) and the T38 (a more manageable but still weighty 38g shooting head cast using a powerful 10 weight single-handed rod). I managed to break all of my personal bests, scoring 147'4" with the T120, 142'10" with the S55 and 139'9" with the T38. George hit 94'10" with the T120 (which we were surprised he could even cast, given his size), 96'4" with the S55 and he extended his record on the T38 with 93'0".

George extends his club record with the T38 shooting head line.

After a lovely lunch, kindly provided by Marina, we moved onto the single-handed rods and tried to fit in all of the casters before the light faded. Unfortunately, conditions deteriorated in the afternoon and we were casting into dead still air, which doesn't aid turnover and means it was a struggle to hit our usual distances. George had been throwing the ST27 over a hundred feet in the morning, but could only hit 76'9" in the afternoon. He did 81'1" with the 5 weight and 79'7" with the 7 weight, while I scored similarly poorly with 99'7" on the ST27, 88'11" with the five weight and 94'4" with the seven.

The scores in the shooting head events.

Sunday 24th November, 2019

We arrived at the St. Davids beat at Carrog on the Welsh Dee just after nine to find one of the CADAC team members gearing up to go and practice for the forthcoming Hanak Grayling Festival. We started in our usual spot towards the lower end of the beat and were into the fish straight away.

A lovely autumnal morning on the Dee.

I don't think I've known a day like it on this beat. We caught fish everywhere we went and eventually found a good-sized shoal of fish halfway up which were all feeding ravenously. While George was fishing from the slacks and the margins and catching a few fish, I'd waded out a bit further and found the fish on the edge of a seam.

The grayling were everywhere today.

By mid-morning, we'd taken about half a dozen fish but were getting loads of bites, presumably from pin grayling. In one spot, we were getting bites every cast, even without moving the flies. The fish were feeding ravenously and had a particular liking for pale pink beads, with nearly every fish falling to a pattern bearing this bead, and seemingly ignoring everything else.

Another one falls to a pink beaded nymph.

After lunch we headed back upstream slightly to fish the deep water in the margins. George had already had a couple of fish from here but we think we kept spooking the shoal, so rested it for a while and then crept back. On the third cast after returning a good fish took the fly and the rod hooped over. However, while the other fish had been pushing a pound, this one was much bigger. We got a good glimpse of it, and saw how long dark and deep it was, but it somehow managed to slip free as we went to net it. George was gutted...

Another little cracker.

However, we weren't that bothered. By 2pm we'd taken 18 fish between us - one brownie and 17 grayling - making this a fantastic session and one of our best so far on the Dee. We can't wait to get back now.

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