Just back from a visit to the Welsh Dee, where I was hosted by the Corwen and District Angling Club, CADAC. What a terrific annual event this is, where Pavel Adamovski, Dan Svrcek (of the Czech Republic) and I demonstrate the techniques of European nymphing and dry fly on the leader on the upper reaches of this magnificent river. Saturday was cool, but delightful weather, and yielded a lot of high average size grayling, particularly to the dry fly. The forecast storm of Sunday provided a vile down streamer and even I was surprised to find that the dries still performed well in those areas – not necessarily sheltered – where the grayling were rising to pale wateries and midges, though Dan did catch the biggest grayling of the day, at 47cm, on nymph. As always, I was so impressed by this lovely river and its valley. The population of grayling is to be envied (or treasured). On the CADAC website you will read the claim of some of the best grayling fishing in Europe and I completely agree with this. In fact, I would suggest that the Dee provides the best grayling fishing in the British Isles, with the possible exception of the Tweed and Annan in Scotland. Looking farther afield to the European tailwaters I feel that only the San, in Poland, can better the Dee for grayling, largely because of the former’s sheer scale.
The Eden has been outstanding during late August and September, with enormous flotillas of black gnats which have brought the grayling back into our catches and completely pre-occupied the trout. The Appleby waters have probably provided the best fishing on the entire system, from what I have experienced and heard about, with a high average size of trout and even larger grayling. Accurate casting has been essential, for both species, because the fish have been locked very precisely on the feed lanes, with that characteristic, tiny rise form to the gnats. My best fly, by far, has been a black CDC plume tip, tied ‘flat over the back’ style, in a 21, with the black being provided by a tiny dubbing of sheep wool. Even now, with the weather change, the upwing hatches have been disappointing, but there is still time for the pale wateries swell in numbers, along with the dark olives and, hopefully, the blue winged olives. There have been a few reports of small fish being caught, including trout parr and first year group grayling. These have been noticeable by their apparent absence until this last month or so, and it is really so encouraging that these seem to be making a comeback, at least in those areas of the river that are not to heavily silted, which is exactly where they are being found, particularly in the faster water sections where goosanders have the most difficulty feeding, or where the presence of anglers and walkers tend to keep goosanders off the river, such as for example, in the town waters.
I’m off to Czech and Poland soon, fishing the Vltava and San tailwaters, among other rivers, but looking forward to what should be the best of the Eden’s grayling fishing of the year when I get back. Let’s hope the BWOs make their usual autumn appearance, as surely they will on the San!