Trevor picked me up to go fishing. I had planned on catching a wild brown trout. But it turned out that Trevor’s plan was to put me onto wild grayling on the River Dee. There are not any wild grayling in the lower 48 of the US. But the UK is far enough north that grayling are often found. Brown trout and grayling are the two main wild sportfish in the UK. Rainbow trout, a North American native, are often stocked in reservoirs. I would be perfectly happy catching a grayling. Trevor also gave me the fishing license that he had purchased for me.
The fishing spot that Trevor chose was just east of LLangollen, the town that had been our goal on the canal trip. LLangollen is clear on the other side of Snowdonia from Caernarfon, so the drive was well over an hour. The drive was pleasant, we were driving across scenic Snowdonia and Trevor was a talkative and personable companion. He pointed out more of the interesting sights and we talked fly fishing, fly tying, travel, and Trevor. He was born on the far eastern edge of Wales, almost in England. I asked if that was why his name was spelled with “v” instead of “f”. (Caernarvon vs Caernarfon). After a long explanation he said “pretty much so”.
Unlike the USA, there is no public fishing water in the UK. If you are going to fish an area you must obtain permission from the landowner (the local lord) or from whoever controls the fishing rights of the river. Except for the big name waters, such as the River Test, the fishing rights are often owned by the local fishing club and you can obtain a “day ticket” at the local convenience store. Or in the case of the River Dee at the hardware store in LLangollen. It is not a big deal.
We were putting on our waders and getting geared up when two other guys drove in. They got out of their car and one of them asked to see our fishing license. I started to pull out the paperwork that Trevor had given me before we left Caernafon. “No” he said, “he wants to see this.” And Trevor displayed the day ticket he had just purchased. In the meantime, the gentleman who asked to see the license was pulling out paperwork identifying him as the “water bailiff”. This was truly a British fishing experience! The bailiff explained that he was there showing a new club member the river. He also warned us that the fishing might be slow because there been tournament held on that stretch of the river over the weekend.
It was about a ½ mile walk across sheep pastures to where we fished. The Dee is very easy wading; the water was about waist deep, the bottom was gravel, and the water flow moderate. Trevor had hoped that we could fish dry flys, but it was too windy. So he had me fish a two-fly rig that that had a bead head midge below a bead head spider (in the US we call spiders soft hackled flys). I ended up catching one grayling and three Atlantic Salmon parr (very young fish). When talking to my fishing buddies at home I say “three Atlantic Salmon” pause, their eyes light up, “parr”.
By the time we got back to the car the soles of my wading boots were well covered in sheep sh*t. When we reentered the US I had to own up that I had, indeed, visited a farm while overseas. I didn’t catch a bunch of fish, but I greatly enjoyed my time with Trevor and I have serious bragging rights with my fishing cronies.
Some pictures are at: https://goo.gl/photos/UzXb1e3GEhhNGMaTA