George's Blog

Monday 11th June 2018

George Wallace

Monday 11th June:

Please note that due to circumstances beyond our control, the river bank work parties on Wednesdays have been cancelled for the time being.

In the meantime, the compensation water released yesterday morning still seems to be running and the river level at Bangor on Dee is holding steady at around six inches above normal. A good height for fly fishing!

The coarse fishing season begins on 16th June, this coming Saturday, so I'm sure we'll see a lot of Members blowing the close-season cobwebs off their tackle and getting on to the river bank. After the Winter and Spring of endless wet, some places are still slippery or sticky, or both, so please be careful. Tim nearly lost his boots by the Big Pool at Pickhill a week or so ago, so don't ignore the risks.

Anyway, if you do get to the river, please let me know how you get on.


Sunday 10th June 2018

George Wallace

Sunday 10th June:

The weather continuous glorious, though perhaps a bit bright for fishing other than early and late. The river is at its Summmer low level but is not too clear, for whatever reason, so not bad for fishing. Good hatches of fly are now receiving more enthusiastic attention from fish of all shapes and sizes.

I see this morning that the upper river has risen almost six inches so it looks as though water has been released from one of the dams, presumably to improve white water rafting.  If anglers, who pay for the privilege of using the river, received similar help and support, the Dee valley would be a better and happier place. The extra water hasn't reached us yet , 0800 hrs, but will probably do so around lunch time.

Our Wednesday work parties have been busy on the Village trying to improve access for both Game and Coarse anglers. It's a slow old job but you can already see where we have been, on the right bank below Dukes, with two good fishing pegs created in spots not previously fishable. More to do there next Wednesday and then it's down to the tail of Monks Drain and the head of Job's where some very tasty water is totally inaccessible at present.

Ian has been doing sterling work at Pickhill, cutting down head-high vegetation and trimming back branches to improve access, so many thanks to him. There's a lot more work to do all along our ten miles of river bank and it really looks as though we are going to have to employ professionals to deal with some of it. We have a couple of members who are qualified tree surgeons, so if they have time and would like to contact me we can discuss what needs doing and how much it will cost. Many trees are overhanging dangerously and need felling before they fall into the river, or in other cases pollarding to prevent them getting top heavy and then falling in the river. The crack willows that line the banks in many places are an absolute menace if not properly controlled. Where they grow right on the bank, in flood conditions the river gets round behind them, washes the soil away from their roots and leaves them to topple over in the next gale. Whichever way the wind blows, the blooming willows seem to be able to fall into the water and make life difficult for everyone. Murphy's Law, I suppose. We have a plan for pollarding in rotation, a few at a time, to try to prevent them falling in the river, blocking the flow and making a mess of the bank where their roots are ripped out by the gales. It's all fun, fun, fun!

In the meantime there are plenty of fish around, particularly sea-trout, so chuck a bucket of water on the family barbeque and get yourselves down to the river.


Thursday 31st May 2018

George Wallace

Thursday 31st May:

Four of us did some good work yesterday on the banks downstream of the Old Bridge. We are very conscious that the Village Beat is BODSA's shop window for visiting anglers and as such is in serious need of a bit of tlc. We made a start dragging untidy bushes out of the water and preparing to install proper fishing places for coarse anglers, where they can sit in comfort, cast easily and land fish without getting them tangled in bushes just below the swim. It will be a long process but we have made a decent start at the tail of Dukes which is a cracking place for big chub and perch. We'll be working our way downstream as the weeks pass by, so if you have knowledge, suggestions or muscle power available, please get in touch.

The river was a foot above normal yesterday and in absolutely prime condition, clearing very nicely. It has fallen another four inches in the last twenty-four hours so if we don't have too much rain in the intervening couple of days, next weekend could be a good 'un.

Trout and grayling have been caught in some numbers and there have been several salmon both caught and seen though details, as always, are hard to come by. With this bit of extra water and the Spring tides, there will be plenty of fish in the river and they really can be caught if you put the time in. People often think there are no fish around simply because they haven't seen any, but Dee salmon are usually pretty undemonstrative so that's really no guide. They are often seen by coarse fishermen who sit in one place for a long time, watching the river, so you just have to keep faith and keep casting. Try bigger flies, smaller flies, fish faster or slower, deeper or shallower until you find what tickles their fancy on the day. Dee salmon, at least on our Beats, seem to prefer small flies but that's not an inflexible rule, so if you can't persuade them to take notice, keep trying something new. And it's not rocket science; you wouldn't believe some of the complete idiots who seem able to catch them regularly. Not in our Club, of course; we don't have any idiots, but you know what I mean. You don't need a degree in anything; just a bit of commonsense and, usually, a lot of time and effort.

Bank Holiday Monday, 28th May 2018

George Wallace

Bank Holiday Monday, 28th May:

Thunder storms last night, after that long spell of warm, dry weather. We had very little rain here but there must have been a fair bit up in the hills, because the river reached five feet above normal early this morning. When I looked over Overton bridge at about 8 o'clock it was still high and dirty, though beginning to fall. Since then it has fallen another foot and should be continuing to fall and clear during the rest of to-day, perhaps even being fishable by this evening. I'll try to find time to have a look later.

I know from second- and third-hand reports that salmon have been caught but no-one has had the kindness to inform me directly so I have no details to tell you. I do know that sick fish have been seen, covered in white fungus and apparently dying. One was about 20 lbs and there is another about the same size, already dead, at Groves Farm - though it's probably miles away downstream on the flood, by now. Andrew asked NRW if he should kill the dying fish so that they could examine them but they said no, because it is illegal to kill fish, even a mercy killing, until 16th June; but please to report them. Bureaucrats; don't you just love 'em!

Before this flood we were starting to see some good hatches of fly, including the first of the real mayfly hatches, so let us hope they resume where they left off when the sun comes out - which it is this morning - and the river returns to normal.

Our Wednesday work parties have been busy trying to deal with the fallen tree at Groves Farm. Although we have removed all the top hamper, roots are still attached at the far bank and we can't pull it out because of that and because when I attach a rope from the Land Rover the branches dig into the river bed, stopping the tree from moving. The flood may have moved it but, if not, we'll have to cross the river and try to saw through the roots under water. That should be fun! We also want to start clearing access for both game and coarse fishermen on the Village beat, so if you coarse anglers have any thoughts on spots that currently look 'fishy' but have no access, please let me know so that we can deal with it.

In the meantime, get yourselves out on our beautiful river - and please don't forget to let me know how you get on. I keep having to say that information on catches and on fish seen are very encouraging for all the other members and might just persuade them to go fishing instead of wasting their lives cutting the lawn - which only grows again - or cleaning the car - which is mucky again in a couple of days. Sharing information is what a Club is all about, so please do so; we're not just a collection of individuals.

None of us is going to live for ever so it's important to get the priorities right and, as Confucius reportedly said, "Time spent fishing is not subtracted from your lifespan." If that's true, I reckon Karl and Dave really will live for ever!


Saturday 5th May 2018

George Wallace

Saturday 5th May:

Bright sunshine, warm weather and a falling river has brought anglers out this weekend and I am waiting (hoping?) for reports of fish caught and seen.

In the meantime, Derek and I have decided that we will hold working parties every Wednesday for a couple of hours, meeting at the Royal Oak at 10 o'clock to do a bit of strimming along the banks, repair of stiles where necessry, dragging out fallen trees and trimming branches which obstruct the fishing. If you can spare a bit of time please do come and join us and we will see what we can do to improve access to our fishing. In this regard, if you have any thoughts about what needs doing, please let us know so that we can add it to the list. We will hope to provide a bit of a barbeque on the river bank - and then there's the pub afterwards. These work parties are very therapeutic and a good way to meet other members and find out about areas of the river you may not have visited before. No-one expects you to do more than you are comfortable with, so if all you can manage is to drink tea and offer helpful advice, it all helps and you will be very welcome.

We hope to see some of you on Wednesday 9th May.

Sutton Green Access

Derek Doyle

The farmer is currently working on the land at Sutton Green which is making the track down to the car park quite muddy. As a temporary measure members should park on the grass just through the padlocked gate on the left hand side. As soon as the farmer has completed working the land the track will be returned to a servicable condition and a further notice will be put on the website.

Tight Lines,

Derek Doyle.

Sunday 29th April 2018

George Wallace

Sunday 29th April:

The river looks absolutely beautiful with the level a foot above normal at Bangor on Dee and running clear. We have a Full Moon tomorrow and the high Spring tides will no doubt bring more fish into the river. Unfortunately, the weather is not very good and although we seem to have avoided the torrential rain threatened by some forecasters, the chilly North wind makes life a bit unpleasant and discourages flies from hatching. Swallows normally arrive here last week but although I saw a couple at Groves Farm last weekend, they haven't yet arrived here, about three miles as the crow flies. We have Buntings here for the first time. I had assumed they were Reed Buntings but the males do not have the big, black head typical of that species, so the jury is still out on that one.

There is some good news on the fishing front, however. Many of you will already have heard that NRW has postponed implementation of its proposed draconian controls on fishing for salmon. They say they have postponed them until next year but in fact they cannot implement them at all without the consent of the Welsh Assembly.  Lesley Griffiths AM is the minister in charge of all this. She is from Wrexham and has been a member of the Assembly since 2007. In May 2016, following re-election, she was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs and then, on 3rd November last year, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs. The impression received by those who have spoken to her, is that Lesley Griffiths is more than capable of assessing and evaluating the available evidence and then making a decision, without allowing herself to be bullied either by the clueless numpties who appear to run NRW, or by we zealots in the opposing camp.

Thank-you to everyone, from BODSA and everywhere in the fishing community, who have worked so hard to try to stall NRW's misguided plans. It has worked so far but we cannot rest on our laurels because NRW say that they have no intention of reconsidering their position or of holding any further consultation. Reminds one of the old joke, "My mind is made up - please do not confuse me with the facts." Except that with NRW it's not a joke.

Monday 23rd April 2018

George Wallace

Monday 23rd April:

The short spell of hot, sunny weather has passed and we are back to grey and showery with a chilly wind. However, the river is in absolutely perfect condition and there was such a tremendous hatch of grannoms yesterday morning that it was wise not to open one's mouth too wide! The fish went mad for them. Three rods reported nearly 100 fish between them for the day, including brown- and sea-trout, grayling, salmon parr and a couple of smolts. Nice to see the last two because they have been noticeably absent for the last couple of years.

As usual, all my information about the fishing comes from a very, very few of our members so I ask again, for the umpteenth time, if people will please let me know of catches, of fish seen, or even of blank days. You don't need to tell me exactly where fish are caught if you would rather not, but it is important and interesting for other members to hear what is going on and perhaps be encouraged to go fishing rather than cut the lawn, wash the car, or go shopping.

On which note, has anyone been up to Llyn Brenig recently?

A note of caution for those new to Groves Farm. Just upstream of the cattle drink at the bottom of the Beat is a sticky, muddy patch which hangs on to your waders like grim death. It can be very difficult to extricate oneself from the grip of the mud, so do please be aware of it.

Some of you may remember that Julia and I have a caravan in a most delightful spot at Ynyslas on the south side of the Dovey estuary. This is the vew from the verandah looking upstream towards Machynlleth.

Ten minutes' walk takes you from the caravan to the tidal part of the River Leri, which apparently had a bigger salmon run than the Dovey last year. The boatyard on the Leri can be seen on the right of the photo. Or ten minutes across the sand at low water brings you to the gulley where the Dovey and the Leri meet. Both spots can be fished safely and comfortably on the rising tide. Julia and I simply don't have time to go there often enough to justify keeping it, so the caravan is up for sale and can be found on the website of the Searivers caravan park, Ours is the Pemberton Knightsbridge on the For Sale list. It's a great shame because it is a really beautiful caravan in a fantastic spot and we loved it there; especially Shadow! Getting old can be a bugger sometimes. Ask the Park or give me a shout if you would like any more information.

Wednesday 11th April 2018

George Wallace

Weds 11th April:

Last Monday was an absolutely glorious day and warm enough to work on the riverbank in shirtsleeves. Karl and Alan were repairing the dodgy flight of steps leading down to the river fields at Groves Farm, after which Karl had a 9 lbs hen salmon, very fresh run, on a small grayling fly and then three Brown Trout and 26 out-of-season grayling between the two of them. But what can you do, if the wrong fish takes your fly? You don't need a salmon licence to catch salmon; you just need the licence if you are fishing for them deliberately. I have heard of a couple of other salmon being caught, so please keep me informed because knowing that fish are there encourages other members, who might not otherwise do so, to go fishing.

A bit of housekeeping. I have changed my internet provider which means I have a new e-mail address and in the couple of days it took to get everything sorted out, there will have been messages sent from the various contact links on the website that will not have reached me. My new e-mail address is now programmed in, so if you have sent BODSA a message in the last week and have not received a reply, please re-send it. Sorry for the confusion. Many of you will already know my Hotmail address and that is the one to use in future, for booking Groves Farm and anything else that falls under my baleful influence. I will put it in the members' forum for anyone who doesn't already know it.

After the good weather on Monday, and beginning that evening, we had twelve hours of rain, occasionally heavy, which brought the river up to more than four feet above normal, and dirty with it. Since then it has been misty with unbroken low cloud and spells of drizzle, which are not forecast to end until mid-afternoon on Friday. In the meantime the river is falling slowly. The little brook here is now running clear, so I hope the main river will also be improving and ready for us to enjoy in the good weather  which is forecast for the coming weekend. Tight lines, everyone.

Easter Monday, 2nd April 2018

George Wallace

Easter Monday, 2nd April:

To-day has brought snow, rain and a rising river so although that, combined with the high Spring tides following Saturday's full moon may be bringing fish into the river, I thought I had better catch up on the promised news about NRW's disreputable proposals to pile further restrictions on our salmon fishing.

Derek and I had a meeting a few weeks ago with BODSA Member Dave Meyrick which produced some very interesting information. Dave's background is with Equality and Anti-discriminatory Practices and that experience inclines him to the belief that NRW may, if they are allowed to impose their demands, be guilty of Indirect Discrimination under the Equality Act of 2010.

There is a legal definition. "Indirect Discrimination is when there is a practice, policy or rule which applies to everyone in the same way but has a worse effect on some people than on others. The Equality Act says that it puts you at a particular disadvantage." (My emphasis on the word 'particular.')

This may be appropriate because the new proposals seek a total ban on the use of worms for salmon fishing, which would be annoying for many of us but would not prevent us enjoying our fishing. However, as many of us know very well, anglers who are hampered in some way, either by age or disabilty, so that they cannot wade safely - or at all - and cannot cast a fly or spinner, find solace and company in continuing their salmon fishing by sitting on the bank with one or two companions, chatting and drinking tea while waiting for a salmon to take their worm. Although banning such men and women from salmon fishing was not NRW's intention when drafting their demands, it would be an indirect result and could therefore be held to be Indirect Discrimination.

The relevant people have been informed of Dave's findings, so we are not revealing any secrets or breaching any confidences in setting them out here. All I will add is, "Good work, Sir - the whole of the salmon fishing community throughout England and Wales is in your debt and immensely grateful for your efforts, whatever the result may be."