Sunday, September 13th, 2020
Ellerdine Lakes re-opened yesterday after its summer shutdown, so we headed there today to enjoy some peace and quiet in the Shropshire countryside. It was, unsurprisingly, on the busy side, with maybe 30 anglers fishing the four lakes.
Conditions were very hard indeed - fly fishing in hot weather is always hard. There was a strong wind blowing and it was much hotter and sunnier than of late, and this seemed to put the fish right off their food. Despite only being stocked recently, everyone was struggling to catch and we didn't see anyone hook a fish for hours.
We tried a range of tactics from dries, washing lines, various flies of all shapes and sizes and nothing seemed to work. It was very hard work. Just before lunch, we moved to the top end of Meadow and I switched to an intermediate line with a tan apache on the point. I counted this down to about 20 and then commenced a slow twiddle back in to try and keep the fly nice and deep. Much to my surprise, the line locked up halfway back.
It was immediately obvious that I had not hooked a small fish. While it didn't swim off rapidly, it felt heavy and was staying deep and moving off slowly but powerfully. Getting it up towards the surface was a challenge and when I did, it headed for the reeds, then a weed bed.
Eventually, after a minor panic at losing it to the weeds, George slipped the net under. It was a Sparctic char in fantastic condition and was probably around double figures, with a short but extremely thick-set body. A great fish on a very tough day.
Sunday, 20th September, 2020
We headed back over to our favourite beat on the River Dee this morning to see if we could catch a few grayling. As the river was on the low side at 51cm, we made our way towards the lower end of the beat, where the water is deeper and faster.
George wanted to brush up on his nymphing skills, so I gave him a quick lesson in setting up the flies, casting, covering the water and wading safely. He picked it up very quickly and was soon wading comfortably around the pool looking for fish.
With no sign of fish at the bottom end, we moved up to the middle. Wading is much harder here as the water is dark and the bottom is littered with massive boulders, which make wading a bit challenging. Clearly, we picked the right spot though as I hooked a good grayling on the first lob of my nymphs. It put up a superb fight for its size and swam off strongly after a quick snap.
After a relaxing lunch on the bank, we headed further upstream and had a change of tactics. George switched over to fishing a squirmy under a New Zealand strike indicator, which allowed him to cover a lot of water without the need to wade out of his depth. After just a few casts he hooked a hefty grayling, only for it to shake the hook...
A couple of small brown trout fell to my nymphs fished across the faster water, but I missed loads more, so they were obviously feeding well today. The weather was glorious and the river looked spectacular in this warm early autumn weather, so it was a lovely day to be out.