Sunday 10th September, 2017
A birthday trip to Llandegla Trout Fishery in Denbighshire today for the penultimate junior coaching day from the brilliant Corwen and District Angling Club. The weather forecast wasn't the best, with wet and windy weather forecast, but at least it wasn't not warm and sunny.
The rough weather had put the other juniors off and only the very dedicated were here today - George and Welsh junior international Gwyddon Griffiths.
We were both hedging our bets today and using two rods - one with a floating line and one with an intermediate. George had picked/stolen a tan apache from my fly box and was starting with that on the intermediate line, with a blob and buzzer beneath the indicator on the floater. Coincidentally, I'd picked the same flies!
We started on the bottom lake, and had quite a few bites and follows in the first quarter of an hour. However, nothing stuck, so we wandered over to the upper lake where Gwyddon was into a good fish almost straight away.
They seemed to want a fairly fast retrieve today and Gwyddon was fishing his pink and white lure using a quick roly-poly retrieve, so we decided to give the same technique a try. It worked and we both had bow waves and gentle plucks on successive casts. Eventually, one of them hit the fly as I was hanging it at the end of the cast.
It was a nice fish - about four pounds - and it gave me arm ache, which is a good sign that the water conditions are getting better. The same method and fly led to three more fish before lunch. All of them took as the flies were paused during the retrieve. If you just roly-polyed the flies back, you'd get only a follow, but if you added a stop or pause, you'd often get a hit.
George managed his first fish just after lunch on the bottom lake. It was only a small fish, compared to the four pounders I'd had, but it was a very pretty one, with beautiful markings and really big spots. For its size, it fought like a fish twice the size and we were both surprised when it reached the surface.
I lost several others to the tan apache during the afternoon, eventually getting the fifth one to stay attached while George had a casting lesson from Paul. This week he was learning how to do snake rolls and jump rolls and, as I found when I tried, was already much better than me!
Both Gwyddon and George picked up their Level Three CAST Awards this week, after having been tutored excellently by Paul during the year. George can now tie on droppers with ease, though his technique for ensuring the knot is wet isn't the most pleasant sight...
If you've got kids who want to get into fly fishing and they live in the area, we'd highly recommend joining CADAC. The coaching and fishing provided has been superb and George has learned loads. So have I!
Final score: Matt 5, George 1.
Sunday 17th September, 2017
It was George's 10th birthday during the week so he got to pick today's venue. Seeing as our favourite fishery, Ellerdine Lakes, had re-opened it wasn't a difficult choice for him at all. We were both up at six getting ready for the trip and arrived at the lakes well before opening time. Amazingly, the car park was already full!
Edward and Jayne had been busy over the summer extending the shop and the lodge to make a larger cafer and create more space for the fly fishing tackle and fly tying gear in the shop. It looked great, as did the lakes. The water was clearer than normal and there was a bit of weed - I suspect getting it trimmed to this level had been a hell of a job though.
I caught the first fish on the far corner of Cranymoor, after my orange blob took the fancy of a decent five pound rainbow. The fight was a bit weak for an Ellerdine fish, so I guess this one might be a recent addition still settling in.
Young Will Upton was catching well on Marsh Lake, pulling an orange blob and cormorant back on a sinking line using a roly-poly retrieve. We saw him catch a few fish to the method, so popped back to the car to fetch our spare rods and intermediate lines.
This worked, with me hooking and losing a nice fish on Meadow and another on Marsh. A move to Lakemoor revealed a small group of fish taking shelter near the reeds, so we tried our luck at stalking them. I used an orange apps bloodworm with a hot head bead and got smashed by a tiger trout almost immediately, only to lose it in the weeds.
Moments later, I caught another tiger - a beautiful little cock fish with a big kype and a spectacular pattern. It gave an excellent scrap on my five weight Loop rod. George had a try next and managed to hook another tiger, but it too took him into the weeds and got away. A few minutes later he winkled out a nice rainbow to get off the mark.
After we'd spooked the fish, we decided to go for a wander and fish the margins of Cranymoor. First cast of my Barrio SLXi intermediate and my long-tailed orange blob was hit by a nice fish at fairly long range. It fought spectacularly well, shooting from side to side and giving me a real challenge to keep up with its pace. Eventually, George slipped the net under and let her go.
After a few near misses in the margins from various brown and rainbow trout cruising the shores, we decided to head home. It was great to be back and we're really looking forward to another excellent winter of fishing at Ellerdine, whatever the weather.
Final score: Matt 3, George 2.
Sunday, 24th September, 2017
We were back at Ellerdine Lakes bright and early today. The car park was rather quieter than last weekend with only a few anglers there before us. Among them was Matt Nuttall who was catching lots on klinkhamers at the top of Meadow Lake.
We opted to try a spot of stalking today as the banks were quiet. So we tied on an appropriate fly - a squirmy in George's case - and wandered around looking for trout. There were lots of hungry browns in the margins and they were feeding ravenously. The rainbows seemed less interested. The same had happened yesterday apparently, when Matt Nuttall had ended the day on a spectacular 19 fish, 17 of which were browns!
We were getting plenty of follows but they weren't really slamming the flies. George was getting more pulls than I was. The trout kept swirling at my flies or bow waving, but they just refused to take. Eventually, I managed to get a firm take at the top of Cranymoor. It was a lovely brown of about three or four pounds, which George showed off to the camera for me.
After breakfast, we tried the top of Meadow where there were quite a lot of fish in the margins. George spotted a spectacular double-figure cock tiger trout near the track, which he tried to get, but it got spooked by the jiggling of the fly and shot away. However, a few casts later his squirmy was attacked by another voracious brown.
It went on two lengthy runs and then went deep, taking George's line through the weed beds. We both thought it would probably pull the hook free, but amazingly it stayed attached and he managed to land it. It was a really colourful fish with a great set of teeth on it!
Things got tougher in the afternoon as the sun came out, so we struggled to get any further bites and couldn't persuade any of the pressured fish in the margins to talk our flies. We headed home at two with a lovely fish each.
Final score: Matt 1, George 1