First Fishing Outing of 2013

Encouraged by clear skies and a falling E.A. river level gauge, Laszlo and I drove to Llangollen this past Saturday to fish the Welsh Dee. The river was high and pushing through fast and clearly not in any condition for fly fishing. Disappointed, we drove the 18 miles upstream to Bala, with little hope that the river higher up the valley would be in any better condition, and it wasn't.

The Dee is a poet's river: Milton called it the "wizard stream" and Tennyson "the sacred Dee". Charles Kingsley wrote the poem "The Sands of Dee". We earmarked the poetic Dee as a river to return to in the trout season.

We set course for "stream X" which seems to do well in times of rain and high water and the drive took us through the eastern edge of Snowdonia National Park. This was the first time I had passed through Snowdonia and the spectacular scenery of snow capped mountains and steep sided valleys in the clear weather literally took my breath away. It's not too far from Birmingham and Laszlo and I promised to find day ticket fishing in Snowdonia later this year in the trout season. The mountains will make for an incredible backdrop to the fishing.

Snowdonia: photo from

The changes this year to the Wye & Usk Foundation's roving voucher scheme (which is no more) has seen us cast the net a little wider and look at other options for day ticket fishing, hence our trip to the Dee. We have yet to decide whether to buy the WUF "wild streams" season permit but we are both set against the alternative option of pre-booking our fishing beat and being lumped with it. The British weather is just too unpredictable!

Anyway, we arrived at "stream X" after a bit of a drive and found it at a reasonable level and clarity to get our hopes up. Had the river not been in a fit-for-fishing state we would have pushed on back home with only the drive through Snowdonia preventing it from being a completely wasted trip. We tackled up in the cold wind and went fishing, the time just gone 1.30 pm. Laszlo caught 2 grayling on a pink shrimp pattern and he said the first grayling had a mouth full of pink worms. I blanked without even coming in to contact with a fish. It seems to be my thing to blank on my first fishing outing of the year. I wouldn't exactly say I am enamoured by fishing in the winter - it's cold and uncomfortable and the stuff of heavy nymphs. I did see one rise and for a moment I tried to tempt the fish with a small F Fly, with no success. I realised that I have never caught a fish with an F Fly although many people swear by the pattern. I have stocked up on a few F Fly patterns for the coming trout season and I am determined to do better with it.

It was great to have a day out with fly rod in hand, if only for 3.5 hours before the weak yellow sun dipped behind the hills and it quickly turned dark. I'm looking forward to the start of the trout season which is only a month away now.