George's Blog

Wednesday 15th August 2018

George Wallace

Wednesday 15th August:

I hope some of you managed to get to Bangor on Dee last Sunday to see the charity duck race in aid of Nightingale House Hospice. It was a beautiful day with absolutely perfect weather; warm but not too hot. Our thanks go to the team from BODSA who turned out to help catch the ducks after they had wizzed past the finishing line below the bridge. Sterling efforts from Keith, Dave, another Dave, Barry, Nigel, Ben - they told me that Ben did most of the work - and how can we ever forget Steve and his spaniel Trixie. I hope I have remembered everybody, but apologies if I have missed someone. So it's a big thank-you to all of you; we could not host the event without our brilliant volunteers.

A couple of photographs, one of yours truly in the boat after launching a batch of 250 ducks and the other is the gallant netsmen below the bridge. You can see who was doing all the work - but there's no point in being in charge if you can't award yourself the plum job!

On the fishing front, I have reports of a lot of salmon seen, particularly on our lower Beats, from Sutton Green downstream to Lower Hall and have been told of several salmon hooked but none landed. To-day sees the last of the big tides following last Saturday's New Moon but my spies tell me that salmon have a special route into the river where they can by-pass the weir when the tides aren't high enough to allow them simply to swim over it. This means that a sniff of fresh rainwater will bring them in regardless of the phase of the moon or the height of the tide.

A bit of housekeeping. I have a report of someone camping under a fishing bivvy and fishing three rods at Brook Mouth on Pickhill, thereby denying access to the best salmon pool on the Beat. This has now been reported twice and our Club rules are very clear that anyone fishing from a sedentary position must allow mobile anglers to fish through. The salmon angler did try, on both occasions, to speak to the chap in the bivvy but could get no answer, so wondered if he was there, even though three rods were fishing. This is not good and I hope we have no more reports of it.

To avoid ending on a sad note, let us remember that the weather is fine, there were more insects about last night than I have seen this year, and our beautiful river is full of salmon and sea-trout - not forgetting that Bruce had an absolutely cracking chub from Lower Hall a day or two ago.

Tight lines, everyone.

Thursday 9th August 2018

George Wallace

Thursday 9th August:

We are keeping our fingers crossed for a decent day on Saturday when we host the charity duck race at Bangor on Dee in aid of Nightingale House. The Met Office forecast for our area is for fine weather with a chance of light showers after about 1900 hrs in the evening, so I hope as many of you as possible will come, with your families, to support the event and help them  raise much-needed money. It is also good fun; the children loved it last year, and the Royal Oak put on some excellent food and their usual good selection of things to drink. Thank-you to those members of BODSA who have volunteered to help by standing in the river just below the bridge to catch ducks after they cross the finishing line. Steve's Spaniel, Trixie, will be here again to help with any ducks that avoid the netsmen. I think she enjoyed it more than anyone else, last year.

On the fishing front we have some whopping tides of over 4 metres beginning at 0030 on Saturday morning and continuing through until Wednesday night. Sure to bring in a lot of fish, especially if the promised/threatened rain turns up and we get a bit of fresh water in the river. Compensation water has been keeping river levels up but the cold, de-oxygenated stuff they release always seems to kill the fishing and reduce fly hatches. Many members have commented on this. NRW told me they are required to release water from the highest available outlet on the dams but if they really do that, why are these things always happening?

Still getting reports of salmon seen, mainly on our lower Beats, and Dave told us yesterday of one BODSA member who has had five. Which doesn't mean it's easy! Apart from the odd stroke of luck, you really do have to put the hours in if you want to catch salmon. It also helps if you know what you are doing, of course!


Sunday 5th August 2018

George Wallace

Sunday 5th August:

We are looking forward to the Duck Race next Saturday and hoping the weather stays exactly as it is. Thank-you to those who have already volunteered to come and help and if there are any more willing hands, please contact either Derek or myself.

In the meantime we have a bit of clearance work to do and will be having a work party, probably on Wednesday or Thursday, to remove obstacles that might trap the ducks as they float downstream. If anyone can help, once again please let either Derek or myself know and we can then give you a time and place.

Many reports of salmon and sea-trout being seen, all the way from Lower Hall to Groves Farm, so you're in with a chance anywhere on our water. Russell saw a fish of at least 30 lbs jump clear at Sutton Green; there were two fish seen at Groves Farm on Thursday and quite a few at Pickhill on the run down from Brook Mouth to the tail of Nunnely's.

We had a walk of Lower Hall yesterday. I had never seen it other than with three feet of flood water running, so it was a real eye-opener at these lower levels. We were all surprised at how much good fly water there is, quite apart from the excellent coarse fishing - there are bream and carp down there, as well as some mighty chub and pike. And flounders! If you go there, don't forget the beautiful run upstream of the Hall which looks very 'fishy' and is best covered from the bank. It reminded me very much of the Car Park Run at Pickhill.

Further downstream, towards the end of the Beat, there is a long run either side of a central sand and gravel bar. The bar is almost at the surface at this level. It looks like seriously good fishing but we have not tested the stability of the bar so cannot say whether it is safe to wade along it. If you do fancy a go, I would strongly suggest that you only do so in company so there's someone to help if you get stuck. The bar may be fine but we don't yet know, and it has deep water both sides so the only way out is by wading back upstream. An assistant with a rope might be a good idea until we find out how safe it is.

Several of our Members have commented on the number of salmon being seen and said that they cannot remember ever having seen as many. Catching them is, of course, a very different matter and apart from the occasional bit of pure luck, the only way to catch a fish is to put the time in; lots of it.

Please keep reports coming in of fish seen or caught and also of sightings of cormorants, goosanders and mergansers.

Duck Race

George Wallace

Duck Race

August 11 2018 @ 11:00 - 16:00



Please attend, if you possibly can. A very good cause. And if you know of any company or business who might like to support it by buying one of the big ducks and decorating it in their own way, please get in touch and I will pass you on to Debbie.

We also need more netsmen to stand in the river just below Bangor on Dee Old Bridge and catch the ducks after they have crossed the finishing line, so if you can help with that, please also contact us.. Please do try to help because Nightingale House has to generate most of its income from fund raising, so every little bit is much appreciated.

Thursday 26th July 2018

George Wallace

Thursday 26th July:

With the hot weather continuing and forecasts of heavy rain on one TV channel and continuing drought on the other, the rest of the week is anybody's guess.

Good catches of grayling are being recorded by canny fly fishers, with an occasional Brown Trout up to 2lbs in weight and Sea-Trout to 1 1/2 lbs. There are a lot of salmon on our lower Beats but I have not heard of anyone catching them - or even fishing for them, come to that. As I'm always saying, you'll bloody catch nowt sittin' at home.

Full Moon tomorrow with some big tides which will bring in even more fish. They may well come into the river and go back to the estuary several times while the river is low, but plenty are being seen as far upstream as Pickhill.

You may remember our big charity duck race last year to raise funds for Nightingale House? It was a very successful day in spite of the weather and we are holding it again on Saturday 11th August. As before, we need volunteers with waders and nets to help catch the ducks after they have passed under Bangor Old Bridge, so if you can help please let Keith, Derek or myself know so we can get an idea of numbers. Soft-mouthed dogs are also very welcome, Steve!

I will be upstream in the Club's boat, launching each batch of ducks. We have a new boat this year, much more stable, so with a bit of luck I won't fall out of it. Last year, you may remember, I went arse over kite into the oggin to the huge amusement of our Chairman, Keith, who awarded me 10 points for the dive and then deducted 3 for my use of nautical language. Happy days. See you there.

Wednesday 18th July 2018

George Wallace

Wednesday 18th July:

Tim has kindly sent these photos of our Lower Hall beat. It looks very different from the times I have seen it when the river has been high and coloured. Anyway, salmon and sea-trout have to swim through Lower Hall to get further upstream, so it may be a good place to have a chuck. For those Members who have not yet been there, access is very easy, with hard standing for the car park which is barely fifty yards from the river and then gentle walking across level fields grazed short by the sheep. It also provides easy access, by walking upstream, to the lower end of the Chicken Sheds which is a glorious Run just demanding to be fished.

Tuesday 17th July 2018

George Wallace

Tuesday 17th July:

Cooler than of late but still shirt-sleeve weather and when the clouds allow the sun through, it is still very warm.

The showers and passing thunderstorms last night added a bit of water to the river but it never rose more than a few inches and is now back down to about four inches above Summer Normal. The extra water wasn't enough to shift the brown scum from the riverbed stones but it will have freshened the river a bit and, being rain water, will be much better for it than the cold, lifeless stuff sometimes released from the reservoirs.

My spies report a lot of salmon showing on our lower Beats, particularly Sutton Green, but the coarse anglers who tell me about seeing the fish also say they haven't seen anyone fishing for salmon, which is disappointing with so many fish in the river.

I had a walk along Pickhill this afternoon and bumped into Martin, who was spinning unsuccessfully for salmon. He was about to give up the spinner and try with a Garden Fly or Blackbird's Fancy to see if that could trigger a take. There are certainly salmon at Pickhill, particularly in the stretch from Brook Mouth to the tail of Nunnely's, but even on a good day you need your own share of luck, and probably a good load of someone else's, if you are going to catch one.

There is some encouraging news in the matter of NRW's attempt to add unjustified and completely unresearched restrictions to salmon fishing. It seems that the relevant Committee of the Welsh Assembly is not impressed by NRW's arguments. More news when I have it, which should be later in the week. The battle is very far from over but at least there is a tiny glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

Saturday 14th July 2018

George Wallace

Saturday 14th July:

Well so much for the rain affecting water levels in the Dee! We have had a little here but not enough to do more than damp the thirsty land. Certainly none of it has got into the rivers. And as for the little brook that runs under the field here and comes up in the wood, I can produce more flow than that after a couple of pints of bitter! In other words, it's still very dry.

Having said which, the canny operators have been doing well with grayling and brown trout, mostly on dry fly, so you don't need to stay at home and mope. There are salmon in the river, though the lower Beats are holding most of them, and there are sea-trout aplenty, though I have not heard of anyone catching more than the odd one. Fishing light and barbless makes landing a sea-trout a bit of a challenge, to put it mildly, and several Members have reported hooking something heavy only to find it spitting the hook out after a minute or two. Still beats the hell out of washing the car, though!

These fellas in the left picture have got it about right, I think? Photos kindly sent by Peter Robinson, and taken by his wife who clearly has a very good eye. On the right is a view of Job's Pool on the Village beat. It is listed nearly everywhere as "Joby's" but Stan - who has known the river since it was a mere trickle - says the pool's proper name is Job's.

Now then, fish or no fish, don't you think this is better than staying at home?

Wednesday 27th June 2018

George Wallace

Wednesday 27th June:

With the hot, dry, sunny weather forecast to continue for a while, you may be tempted to think that fishing is a waste of time. It isn't. Yesterday two BODSA members had a sea-trout of 2 1/2 lbs, 13 grayling (unlucky for some!) and a dozen parr. Great to see parr again because they have been scarce to non-existent for the last two years.

All the fish were carefully returned which brings me to my annual reminder about Brown Trout. Old members will be well aware of BODSA's policy that all wild Brown Trout should be carefully returned, please; so this is a reminder for them and a flag for new members who may not be aware. Brown Trout are not rare on our part of the Dee but they are not present in such numbers that they can stand predation by humans, so if you are lucky enough to catch one, please just admire it, photograph it and return it carefully. Your Committee takes a very dim view of people who kill our wild Brownies; there's no need for it nowadays.

Tomorrow's full moon will herald another series of Spring Tides. With river levels so low, big tides may not tempt salmon to run - although you may well find them on our lower Beats which are actually affected by the biggest tides as far up as the Ferry Pool at Rodens Hall - but sea-trout will definitely be coming into the river in good numbers, adding to those already here. And sea-trout, as we know, will run up wet gravel when the mood takes them, so they'll soon spread all along the river.

On the coarse fishing front, Richard had a nice Chub of 5lbs 10ozs, so well done him.

Enjoy your fishing and please keep me posted on catches. I won't reveal any secrets but news of fish caught or seen is important to other Members who may not have been so lucky.


Sunday 24th June 2018

George Wallace

Sunday 24th June - Midsummer Day:

With my barometer fixed firmly on "Set Fair" it looks as though we can look forward to a spell of settled weather, which is apparently what sea-trout like - though I'm not sure how they respond to the occasional rush of compensation water from the reservoirs. Bright sunshine is supposed to be bad for fishing, so fish under the trees where the sunlight is diffused or shaded altogether. Big fish don't get big by spending most of their time 'off the feed!' They get big by eating a lot and growing cautious with experience. Early and late are best, of course, but middle day is okay if you fish either the shady bits or the deepest water where the fierce light is softened.

SAPROLEGNIA. In the last few years there have been increasing reports of this fungal-like infection. We are used to seeing something similar in salmon at spawning time, of course, but this is a different and seemingly endlessly variable strain which can appear at any time, and long before the fish are ready to spawn. It is causing significant losses in some rivers. The main victims appear to be salmonids - salmon and sea-trout - but it has also been seen in carp, eels and sticklebacks.

Little is currently known about the disease but it appears to be very complex, with some strains apparently host-specific, and influenced by a wide range of environmental and host-related factors, including water temperature, water chemistry and flow rate. Urgent research is under way and anglers are asked to report any fish seen with signs of the infection. We have already seen several on our waters.

Co-ordinator for our area is Joel Rees-Jones of NRW, whose mobile number is 07776 474 308 and he asks that you report any sightings of fish suffering with an apparent fungal infection. Please do not kill them but, if you can, keep them alive in a net and phone Joel immediately. If he is close enough he will come straight down to inspect the fish and get samples of the infection.

This is very important so, regardless of what we may think of the intransigence of NRW's Management over salmon fishing restrictions, please do all you can to help with this research programme.

If NRW - and the EA in England - start to appreciate that they can't do anything without the good will and co-operation of anglers, it will help with negotiations when, inevitably, having failed this year, they try again to impose more restrictions for 2019.

And finally a bit of housekeeping. Don't forget that BODSA has arranged free fishing for Members at Llyn Brenig on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. All you have to do is phone them to ask if the BODSA boat and tickets are available, and then off you go. Then please remember to fill in the catch return on the website. The facility is free to members but it costs the Club a lot of money and if it is not used we will not continue to pay for it. Use it or lose it, as the saying goes.