Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Winter Grayling on the Welsh Dee River

I am not long home from my third trip to fish the fabulous River Dee in Llangollen and Cowen this Winter. I have had some cracking sport on this venue over the last number of years and if you were thinking of going fishing next winter to pass the closed months this fabulous river will worth considering. It was way back in 2000 when I first wet a fly on the River Dee, I had the pleasure of staying with Gwilym Hughes in Cowen and he was the person that first introduced me into up stream nymphing. Gwilym traveled that same year to the World Championships in Sweden with the Irish team and after his mentoring for those two weeks I was well and truly hooked on nymphing for Trout and Grayling, a lot of the way I fish today is grounded in the approaches and thinking that Gyilym passed on to me over this period.
The first trip this year was a wash out, this is always a risk, and we ended up having only a few hours fishing; but we did still managed some good fish. The second was for the Hanak European Grayling Festival which we did really well in and the river fished fantastic as it always dose in good conditions. For the latest trip, the river was spot on again but the cold breeze would make changing nymphs or setting up very difficult so extra caution was spent on not getting into tangles, no harm to practice this way.  Though the run of fish was not quite as large as we have experienced in December but still a good sporting size on average .
We normally do a two day trip flying at 6am from Dublin to Manchester with Ryanair, we book the car with Avis and its a one hour drive to the hotel which is The Hand Hotel in Llangollen at 9 am.  After some breakfast we pick up our permits in the local hardware located just around the corner from our accommodation and we are on the river for 10.30 am.
We began the first day on the Golf Course beat just out side the town, one we know quite well and has always produced good numbers for us; today was no different and we had a lot of quality fish to our nets. We stayed around this location for the majority of the day as there is an abundance of water to explore, and the days this time of year are short so fishing till 4pm is usually all the cold you can stick.
After a bite to eat and a few beers by the fire in the hotel we headed to bed and looked forward to our second day. This time we traveled down to Cowen and got our day tickets in the local newsagents, just in the square of the town for a very reasonable 20 pounds, Crogen 2 beat was our destination. Togged out we set off up the river and it wasn't long before we were in the pods of Graying catching them in good numbers and sizes.
Our preferred method for the Grayling on the Dee is down stream nymphing, using a heavy weighted nymph on the point and follow it with two either shrimps, orange and pink we find best,  or as it was for this session two Gammuras nymphs and as soon as the nymphs swing around and begin to lift off the bottom the fish will attack. We found this time on occasions once the nymphs lifted off the bottom and when there was no take if you just allow your flies to drop back down again you will get the hook up on the second lift. The method needs some adjusting during the different months of the winter as we have discovered the Grayling in December seem to sit closer to the angler that in January which means you have to discover the distance they are in front of you in order to put your nymphs in the zone.

After we finished the second day we packed up the rental car and set off for Manchester airport to fly back home leaving at 10pm and I would normally be back in my house around 12.45, depending on where you live. On average the trip out side the evening meal and a few beers will cost around 150 euros for the flights, car, permits, and hotel, this is traveling mid week of course I am sure the weekend will have higher rates. 
A regret I have is that over the last 17 years sense I first visited this river it has only been in the last few seasons that I have gone back, when it should of been a regular occurrence over the winter months. But I plan to make here a few times every winter to come, it is a cheap, easy and well worth it trip. I am alos relishing the chance to lead our the T.A.F.I National team here in 2018 as their captain in the Fips Mouche World Fly Fishing Championships, one I will be hoping we will have a say in.  
I would recommend this venue to any angler that is looking for something a bit different for the winter months rather than the rainbow lakes.
If you would like any information in relation to fishing the Dee you can look up the two fore mentioned clubs who have really good websites where you can get all in information needed in relation to fishing, permits, beats and water levels. Also if you need any info on the traveling aspect please feel free to drop me a line and ill help you out as best as I can.
I hope you have enjoyed reading the blog and feel free to drop me a line here with any questions you may have. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Peter. It is nice to see someone hooked on grayling from Ireland. We plan trip just for two days fishing in Wales at the end of November. So far 3 of us in the car (nissan navara - proper fishing car) and you are very welcome to be the 4th. If you on YES drop me a line: flyfisher@tlen.pl