Fly fishing diary: October 2019

Matt and George both lose salmon on the River Dee and fish at Llandega and Ellerdine Lakes but heavy rain and flooding stop the fun.

Fly fishing diary: October 2019
© Fly and Lure
Fly fishing diary: October 2019
Picture copyright © Fly and Lure
Fly fishing diary: October 2019
Estimated reading time 8 - 13 minutes

Sunday, 6th October 2019

It's been a while since we've fished the Dee. What with George's competitions and us coaching juniors, we've had a busy time so we thought we'd make the effort to make the most of the river today. We'd not really timed our trip that well, though. The Corwen gauge was reading 92cm, so it was running fast and sitting high.

The Dee was running a tad high today.

To play it safe, we decided it wise to fish from the banks with French leader tactics. When the river is running high and fast, we often find the odd fish tucked away in the slack water or by the bank. It's amazing how close they'll come in. At the top of the beat, I had a couple of pulls from smaller grayling, but we didn't connect with anything (other than pretty much every tree branch above us) so we headed further downstream.

This stretch has deep water by the banks and can be fished without the need to wade.

In our favourite spot on the beat, things looked much fishier. I had a solid tug first cast, then eventually hooked into a nice fish and handed the rod over to George to fight. After a spirited scrap, we scooped the net under a nice grayling of around a pound, which did its best to avoid having a sensible photograph taken. They really are wriggly.

A lovely Dee grayling.

While we were having a cup of tea over lunch, we saw several good salmon and sea trout leaping immediately in front of us. The spot we were fishing seems to be a popular one with migrating fish - I accidentally landed a double-figure salmon there a couple of years back. After we'd been fed, we got back to the fishing and had several more pulls at various points along the bank, but sadly failed to land any.

The fish were biting at the lower end of the beat.

Just as George was packing away to head home, I missed two consecutive pulls on my pink bug before the fish showed itself just four feet from the bank. It was another salmon - maybe 8-10 pounds. That would have been a struggle on the four weight!

Sunday 13th October, 2019

It was our last junior coaching day of the season at Llandegla Fishery in North Wales today. The weather had taken an autumnal turn and it was a bit cold and damp as we got started. We had about half a dozen juniors braving the elements today, some of whom have got into the sport thanks to the free fly fishing events Paul Ainsworth has been putting on over the summer.

George helped out with the coaching today.

The fishing wasn't the easiest, but with a bit of help from the grown-ups and the two juniors who fish at national level - James and George - everyone hooked a few fish. Once again, young Philippe proved to be the top rod, catching an impressive seven trout.

Young Oli into a nice trout.

We got a bit of extra time for one-to-one tuition today and really helped improve some of the fishing skills, polishing up some roll casts and overhead casts, teaching a couple of anglers to tie knots and helping them use the countdown method, fan casting and the hang.

Sadly, it was the last session for coach Paul Ainsworth and Harry Carr, who are retiring from official club duties next year. Over the past four years, we've been to 30 or 40 of their coaching sessions and have had a great time and have learned so much. We're massively grateful to their dedication and hard work and will really miss them on the junior days.

Saturday 19th October, 2019

I'm not sure what's wrong with the Corwen river level gauge, but the River Dee definitely didn't look like it was 87cm deep when we arrived. It was pushing through pretty fast and looked well over 1m but we found some nice slack water areas to fish, which can often hold fish when it's in flood.

There were fish in the margins here.

George was fishing downstream from me in a long glide containing slower water beside the stronger main flow. A shout alerted me that he was into a fish and I ran down the bank to help with the netting. By the time I got there, he'd already landed a nice little brown trout of around a pound which he'd beached on the bankside grass, but it wriggled free before I got to see it properly.

Another grayling...

Moments later, he shouted again. This time, I could see the rod hooped over and bouncing up and down as what looked like a big fish shook its head. George said everything went solid like he'd hit a snag and then he just felt shaking. In a split second, the fish shot off at speed into the main current, made a huge swirl on the surface and then snapped the line. Although it was obviously out of season, it would have been his first salmon, so he was gutted nonetheless.

Picture copyright © Fly and Lure.

I managed a couple of small browns and a nice grayling, but George wasn't really that focused on the fishing after losing his fish of a lifetime. With the water level seemingly getting higher and the light drawing in, we headed back home to get the gear ready for tomorrow's trip.

Sunday 20th October, 2019

You'd think that missing a fish on the hang on the first cast might mean you were in for an easy day, but the fishing at Ellerdine Lakes today was nice and challenging. As usual, we were both using two rods - one with a floater and one with an intermediate. George was using a pair of cormorants on the floater, while I had a couple of nymphs and a blob. On the intermediates, we'd both opted for a humongous.

Ellerdine Lakes is looking great this year.

By 9 am George had already had a couple of nice perch on his cormorants but as yet no trout. It took me another hour before I netted my first fish, which took a buzzer about three feet below the surface. A move over to Marsh Lake saw George get distracted by the rudd, which he was targeting with dries. He managed a nice one and missed a good trout, too.

Picture copyright © Fly and Lure.

After a lovely breakfast in the lodge, we headed over to Cranymoor where George picked off a nice rainbow again on the buzzers. The fishing was proving fairly tough, but we were getting the odd gentle pluck here and there. A wander over to Meadow Lake brought me my second fish, again on the buzzer, with George missing a couple of nice ones.

Picture copyright © Fly and Lure.

After an unsuccessful trip to the little lake, we ended the morning on Meadow again. This time, George had switched to a big white lure and hooked and landed a nice fish on his first cast.

Picture copyright © Fly and Lure.

A few casts later and he hooked a much bigger fish, but it sadly shook the barbless hook free. They were obviously on the fry today, as a change from buzzers to a white lure also brought me a lovely blue. A great morning in some lovely autumnal sunshine. 

Picture copyright © Fly and Lure.

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