The River Dee in wales is a river I hold dear in my heart, a river I cut my teeth on when learning to fish the stick float and a river that allowed me to lose all fear of tackling deep swims of up to 17ft deep. It was a good two years solid we spent on her banks through summer autumn and winter we painstakingly learnt to fish her waters in all her moods. In fishing you really do get out what you put in and through those years we learnt a great deal about where to fish in certain times of year and more importantly where the fish where at certain times of year.
The fish on the river dee I liken to the vast herds of wildebeest on the Serengeti plains they move constantly through the year as they migrate between their summer and winter grounds holding as short as a few weeks in one location before continuing there migration. Getting to know these seasonal spots is key to success on this wild welsh river and that also goes for targeting the lions of the river the pike that stalk the outskirts of these shoals.
A few years had passed since our last visit to the banks of the upper River Dee there certainly was an air of excitement as myself and my uncle navigated the winding B-Roads through the welsh country side. A clear sky and dense fog carpeting the low lying ground we knew we where in for a sun drenched session.
Parking the car up in a tiny welsh village we caught our first glimpse of the Dee and she looked in fine fettle. She was on the bones of her backside level wise but she was carrying a fantastic tea stained peaty colour that to the trained river mans eye just screamed fish. We paid our dues and made our way to the beat we had chosen to fish.
Arriving on the beat we where met with the sight of fish topping all along its length, being the upper reaches of the river you are in the mixing pot of both coarse and game fish so it can be hard to distinguish between trout and dace but when we saw a whole shoal of fish topping we knew straight away a good shoal of dace where in residence.
Settling on my chosen swim it was a straight before a bend in the river where the water was of an even 7 to 10ft depth and of a medium to fast pace. The flat boil free surface told me that the run contained few it no snags or big rocks that would break up the flow and it looked a really good dace trot.
The arrival of the autumn months is shown in my fishing with two signs, one I start to pick up my bits and pieces for my pike fishing trips to come in October and two my 17ft Preston Carbon active float rod comes out of its summer hibernation. Autumn and Winter means you are targeting generally the deeper stretches of river so the extra length of the 17ft rod over a 14ft one is certainly needed although for this session I wanted the extra length to give me more control as I was planning to fish right down the middle of the river.
My Shimano Tecnium reel loaded with 4lb 4oz Drennan Float Fish went down to a 3gram Bolo Float with a 2.5gram Olivette and this was all fished down to a 1.7oz Bayer perlon hook length and a size 18 micro barbed hook. My choice of bait was kept simple but very effective with 2.5pints of white maggot and a pint and half of Cheshire Particle Hemp seed that had been boosted with the Cheshire Particle Hemp oil.
I kicked off the swim feeding 4 good pouches of Cheshire particle hemp seed and fed it down stream and over quite a large area as to try and draw fish initially into the area and hold them. I always feel with river fishing you never want a tight bed of bait and more the fish moving around the current searching for food and ultimately competing with each other for it.
The hook bait for the session was a single white maggot and it was these I also began to feed level with my seated position. Four or five maggots every trot down to begin with. The early parts of the session is always a time of working out the swim and how to feed it to get the best from that swim on that day.
It was clear from the instant action from the dace that there was a few in the area as plenty of fin perfect dace came holding back over the hemp seed.
Fish topping all down the swim the area was alive with these silver darts and the odd rogue trout mixed in. The conditions on the day where not conducive to a day’s dace fishing with the sun beating down hard but the river did hold that tinge of colour and it was this colour that kept the fish feeding through the day.
“The Power Of Quality Hemp Seed”
The session was one that proved the power of hemp seed and feeding three large pouches of the black grains every 10 to 15 minutes down the swim kept the dace on the bottom where I wanted them while the maggot fed level with my seated position kept a flow of bait through the swim allowing me two areas to get bites.
Holding back as the maggots went through the swim was getting some smaller dace but holding hard back on the hemp seed was producing some of the better quality dace like below.
As the session wore on the swim just seemed to go into over drive with fish in the swim and bites came all the way through the trot, missing bites was an issue, but I was connecting with enough to keep me ticking over. It really was one of those days where you would have loved a camera beneath the water just to see how big the shoal was.
An hour long lull in the afternoon came like a lightning bolt to the swim and although no pike showed I am pretty sure the feeding activity had lured the attention of a River Dee esox. A quick walk to my uncle and a brew was in order and it seemed to do the trick as on my return until the end of the session.
Calling it a day at 2pm we packed up and enjoyed a well earned brew while the nets dried. The final net I estimated to go around 15lb mark and it was great to see all year classes of dace in the final net, great signs for the future of this magnificent river.
It had been around 2 years since we left the Dee for other adventures and this session certainly has ignited a dormant fire and I cannot wait to get back out on the banks of this most majestic or river. The Welsh River Dee.