As I’m writing this I’m waiting for my Indian takeaway to arrive (a lamb-tikka Jalfrezi) paid for by Tracy. This signifies that I won our ongoing ‘first fish of the year’ competition in fine style (and with none of the controversy of some of the previous years). The weather on the day was bright, but with a bit of a cold breeze when we arrived at the river bank, the water had dropped over the course of the week and was as clear as the Dee gets – there’s always a tea-coloured tinge to it. There was no signs of anything rising and very little in the way of insect life, so our decision to fish dry flies was perhaps a bit odd. To be honest it was more about being out in the beautiful Welsh countryside once again than wanting to catch a lot of fish, so despite knowing that deep nymphing was the obvious choice of tactics, on when a trusted drab Klink.
Having drawn a blank covering an area that had held plenty of fish last year I decided to go for a walk upstream. After going a fair way I spotted a single rise, on the edge of some overhanging branches on the far side of the river, but right opposite where I was stood at the time. The Welsh Dee is quite a wide river in places and ideally I’d of slowly waded across to enable to get a shot at the fish. Unfortunately, the nature of the river is that often the very deepest bits are right next to the bank, and as I peered down into the darkness immediately off the bank I knew that getting in would be an impossibility (well not actually impossible, but I’d definitely be swimming). As such, I knew I was going to have to make the cast from the bank. To add to this non-ideal situation there was an upstream wind that was strong enough to make a conventional right-handed cast too dangerous. So my first shot of the year was an off-the-shoulder distance cast with a dry fly to a fish that had only risen once, twice when it came up and engulfed my fly.
I think that’s one of those fish that I’ll remember for a long time. We both added other fish, a couple of nice grayling (and one lost lump of a fish that went downstream and wasn’t coming back) plus another nice trout. Tracy had a similar catch, where the fish only rose once and she covered the liewith a dry fly and eventually caught a good sized out of season grayling that she released quickly, so no photos.
With the sun glistening off the water, and the peace and quiet (as we hardly saw anyone whilst we were fishing), we had a really great first fishing trip of 2021. Other little things made it especially memorable like the sight of a kingfisher (not that unusual a sight on certain stretches), Easter bunnies in the fields and the adorable lambs running around after their mothers (Tracy added this bit, I like lambs too – with mint sauce). We’re looking forward to more days on the river, trying as many of the beats as we are able, and next time might do some nymphing rather than just sticking with the dries.
Whatever you are doing this week, enjoy