What a season it’s been in Wales! Despite varying conditions, the river fishing in particular has been simply world class. From early season nymph fishing on small tributaries, to action packed dry fly fishing on balmy summer evenings, the Welsh rivers continue to produce outstanding brown trout fishing, with both prolific numbers of fish and to trophy size.
I am now taking guided bookings for next season, so if you are looking for a fly fishing guide, an instructional day, or to improve your overall fly fishing skills then please get in touch. I am the only fly fishing guide based in Cardiff and I cover South and Mid-Wales area. All tackle can be provided for an enjoyable and productive day on the water.
As we wait for the trout season to kick off again in March, the winter grayling fishing is excellent in South Wales and I can guide you through the colder months for these beautiful fish, whenever the weather allows.
Trout fishing in Wales has been superb for myself and clients throughout 2023, with fish up to an incredible 26 inches. No client left the water without catching any fish! I’ve put together of few of my favourite images from 2023 in the gallery below. I’m looking ahead to the new season with excitement already. Hope you can join me on the water.
It’s been a great start on the Welsh rivers, despite the variable conditions this month.
Local knowledge is everything, so if you are looking for a fly fishing guide, an instructional day in Wales this season or to improve your fly fishing skills then please get in touch.
I started my season on the river Usk in cold and exceptionally low conditions, however I did manage my first 4 fish of the season on dry flies, including a 19 incher.
With the current unsettled spell the main rivers have been blown out since mid-March, however I have found some excellent nymph fishing on the smaller streams and tributaries that would otherwise be hopeless in low water conditions. Some of these can produce unexpected surprises as well as fantastic numbers of smaller fish!
A few images from my early season fly fishing in Wales March 2023:
I recently took part in a podcast hosted by Ceri Jones. This new show is called ‘Casting with Ceri Jones’. It’s a brilliant fly fishing podcast that I’ve really enjoyed listening to, so it was an honour to be invited up to Ceri’s studio in Porth.
On the podcast I mostly talk about fly fishing remote Welsh lakes, pike on the fly rod and Fishing In Wales, plus quite a few fishing stories. I really enjoyed recording the podcast and I hope you enjoy listening to it. Hit the link below to check it out!!
This is a project I have been working on intensively during the lock down. The site features everything you need to know about fishing in Wales – where, when and how to do it. Plus some brilliant articles and videos that will be released over the next few weeks and months.
In my last blog post in March, I talked about a perfect start to the season and ended with a prediction of a good season to come. Famous last words!! Covid-19 struck a few days later and Wales entered full lock-down, with angling completely off the cards.
After what seemed like an eternity without fishing (to keep sane I explored the local woods and purchased a mountain bike!) things finally changed in Wales around a month ago (mid May) fishing was permitted, but on a ‘local basis only’ with no driving to fish. You could walk or cycle to a venue.
Of course this wasn’t the news most anglers in Wales had been waiting for, but in my case I am lucky enough to live just half a mile away from my local stretch of river, only a 15 minutes walk.
Upon news of my local angling clubs re-opening, I was on the river pretty darn quickly! That first evening back was glorious, a pleasantly warm late afternoon faded into the perfect evening, still, without a breath of wind.
As the light diminished blue winged olive spinners carpeted the water, and at last knockings fish sipped them steadily in a smooth glide. Five lovely wild brown trout came to the net that night, silvery, strong fish, almost like sewin in appearance (as they often are on this part of the river) each one extremely welcome after such a long break. The simple enjoyment of wading in a cool, flowing river whilst rhythmically flicking dry flies at rising fish was something i’d really missed – it was great to be back!
From there on in, I was back on the water as often as I could – almost obsessively I must say, making up for lost time. An hour or two early in the morning, or a couple last thing, fitting a fishing fix into the day whenever possible. It was hot and the river low, the driest May on record. So keeping to these hours made for better fishing. I stayed very local and initially walked everywhere.
The fishing ‘regulations’ changed in Wales somewhat over the next few days and weeks – you could drive, but only very short distances. This opened up some more local river territory, and in another update we were told 5 miles ‘ as a rule of thumb’ was the limit for outdoor activity, which is still in place now (25/06/2020)
Although the productive early spring trout fishing had been lost, I still manged to catch the tail end of the brook dun hatch, which is one of my favourite upwing species. There were also yellow may duns aplenty, and the aforementioned blue winged olives, which hatched in numbers that I hadn’t seen for many years.
After more than a full month back on the water, I’d have to say I am now fully acquainted with the five miles of my local stretch, having walked or fished almost every single yard of it. The fishing has been challenging, in part due to the low water and very warm, bright weather, but there have been some memorable outings, with some great fish taken on streamers twitched through deep pools, or on dry flies fished at dusk or on rare, cloudy days.
I also had some great sport fishing for carp on the fly on a local lake, just 2 miles away as the crow flies. A former trout fishery, it holds an abundant head of carp (mostly commons) and is now open for day tickets.
I’ve fished it a few times, always on the hottest, blue-sky days days when the river was far too warm for trout – perfect conditions for catching sunbathing carp. I’ve done well on the fly, feeding dog biscuits on the top and then picking them off using deer hair ‘imitations’. The best fish, a lower double, gave me a tremendous fight on a 7 weight, a proper reel screamer.
So what was a perfect start to the season and became a disaster, has swung around again. It’s turning to out to be a good season after all – a fantastic one in fact, with much more to come. And sometimes, the grass isn’t always greener. I’ve grown to really appreciate, and be grateful of, the great fishing available on my own doorstep.
You know spring is on the way when the trout river season finally arrives – and thankfully here in Wales it comes early, March the 3rd in fact – one of the earliest starts in the UK for river trouting.
For me, it’s a magical day and I always try and hit the water on the opener if possible, although it doesn’t always go to plan! 2017 went well, with plenty of fish caught on the upper Taff, but in 2018 I recall we had a foot of snow on the bank, which melted and made things very tough. Last year, I was faced by a rising river and torrential rain, but thankfully I did catch a fantastic trout from the river Usk.
This year, due to the recent biblical flooding and resulting high water I couldn’t get out on the 3rd, but I did manage my first outing just 3 days later. I chose a local stretch of the river Taff, on the Merthyr AA club water where the river tends to drop down to a fishable height after just a few days. The big questions were – what was the river going to be like after the record floods? And would the fish still be there?
My first spot was in a semi urban location, just outside Merthyr Tydfil. The sun was shining as I threaded up the rod on the bank – sunshine being very welcome after weeks of torrential rain. The river appeared to be in fine fettle, everything looked good. As I carefully waded into position, the waft of sizzling bacon from a nearby catering van assailed my nostrils, just as I made those first magical casts of the season into the clear, but strong flow of the pool. It was great to be out again, simply going through the rhythmic motions of casting and enjoying the outdoors in the cold, crisp morning air.
Nothing happened in that spot, so I jumped upstream in to the town section, which despite its urban surrounds holds some of the best trout in the river. It was here that the devastation of the floods was really apparent – whole pools had been filled in with cobbles, rocks the size of cars had been moved, islands had vanished, and bankside vegetation had been completely scoured away. It was like fishing a completely new river.
As I took it all in two anglers in waders appeared, fishing their way up the pool. As they approached, I recognised them. It is always great to share the first day with a fishing buddy – and here were two of them, local anglers Dan Popp and Rhys Morgan. We fished our way together upriver, taking turns to cast into likely spots and reflecting on the changes to the pools and the season ahead. Finally, we saw sign of life – olives hatching and a rising trout, which despite our best efforts we didn’t catch.
Not long afterwards, my dry fly dipped under and I lifted the rod – a trout had taken the heavy nymph suspended beneath, a good one, which after a fair scrap filled the net at 19 inches. A bit storm battered, she went back fine. A fantastic fish to start the season with.
We went our separate ways from there on – but my day wasn’t done. One of the best things about fishing in Wales are the sheer abundance of rivers, often in close proximity. A 20 minute drive and I was somewhere completely different, a small river called the Sirhowy, which like the Taff has a post-industrial past, but now flows clear and abounds with moderately sized wild trout.
I was greeted by the sight of a flotilla of March browns drifting down the first pool – then on cue a trout rose. A few casts later the first fish came to hand, a feisty fellow of about 9 inches. This was followed by several more cracking looking fish up to 12 inches, with plenty of others bumped and lost. Clearly the floods hadn’t impacted much here, other than to shift around a fair amount of gravel. It was a great way to finish the afternoon off, working my way up the small stream dropping a weighted nymph into various inviting looking pools.
To finish my weekend, I headed out to the Taff again the next day, just before the rugby (enough said on that!) For me this is the beauty of fly fishing – it is a great method for short, mobile sessions, simply grab the rod, slip a fly box in the pocket and head to the river for an hour or two.
It always pays to visit the river around lunch time early in the season, when the day begins to really warm up. This is when olives and march browns are most likely to be hatching, which gives you a chance to fish a dry fly, or simply spot where a fish may be holding. This was the case today, where in one deep pool a singular rise gave away the position of what looked like a good fish. A dozen casts later and the dry fly dipped under – a fish had taken the trailing nymph. It pulled and battled hard in the strong flow and after a few hairy moments, finally came to the net.
I must admit, I did a fist pump and let out a yell in celebration – It was another fantastic specimen, 20 inches long with unbelievably vivid colouration. A truly wild fish, of the quality the Taff has now become famous for. They were still here, survivors of the worst floods in living memory. What a perfect start – the magic of early season river trouting had begun. It’s going to be a good season, I can tell.
A version of this post recently featured on the Angling Trust’s ‘Lines On The Water Blog’ – check it out here.
You probably wouldn’t think bass fishing would be any good in late November would you? Neither did I.
However, it turns out November can be an excellent month for bassing in Wales, due to the water temperature off our coasts remaining high.
I’d been tipped off to this by my good pal Alan Parfitt, who as well as being an avid wild trout fisher is also a seasoned bass angler. We’d been meaning to give autumn bassing a go for a while, but thanks to the persistent dreadful weather of late it simply hadn’t happened.
Remarkably, yesterday (24th November) a brief window in the weather allowed us to venture west to Pembroke, the bass mecca of Wales, where Alan’s good friend Vaughan Thomas (who happens to be a saltwater fishing guide) would assist us in finding the prize – November Welsh bass.
We met Vaughan and his son Ollie on a cliff top somewhere in the Pembrokeshire coast national park (I wont disclose exact location for obvious reason!) It was a dull dark morning, yet thanks to the imposing Welsh coastal scenery we still had quite a backdrop to the fishing.
Local knowledge is essential if you want to consistently catch bass, and with Alan and Vaughan’s many years of combined experience I felt confident that we would run into some fish today – if they were still there.
Guided by Vaughan we descended to the fishing area – where we would lure fish initially and then bait fish as the tide came in. I wont go into the exact tactical details, as hopefully this will be covered in an upcoming video for the new Fishing in Wales website.
Thanks to Vaughan’s knowledge and tips, we were soon off the mark, with bass falling to lures and then bait. It seemed the bass were still about – and in good numbers! We all experienced action, with the ‘top rod’ being Ollie, who caught a succession of fabulous bass, each one perfectly conditioned and bright as a button. Most of these fish were around 4lb, a great average size.
A few of the pictures from the day can be found below – captured by Alan’s great skills with the camera.
Vaughan’s talents as a fishing guide were plain to see – he is a natural when it comes to imparting his vast angling expertise. In fact after a few years off the guiding scene, Vaughan has recently set up a new website offering his services. So if you do fancy a guided day for Pembroke bass in good hands, i’d recommend you give him a shout. You are sure to learn a great deal about bass and most importantly have a truly enjoyable day out.
I recently went on a solo mission to a couple of little known llyns in Mid-Wales. One of these I’d fished a couple of times a good few years ago. From memory it held trout, perch and rudd. Frank Ward (Lakes of Wales) describes this llyn as holding just trout, so these must be illegal introductions. Ward also mentions the llyn as being haunted by a dead fisherman, and that it wasn’t visited for many years by the locals as a result!
The other llyn was higher up in the Cambrian mountains, perhaps half an hour drive away from the first. I had never fished it, so I was quite excited to tick a new one off. Ward mentions that this lake was ‘destitute of fish’ – although I’d heard otherwise…. intention was to try both.
It was a grey overcast Mid-September morning, not much of a breeze . The sky was gloomy and rain threatened but never came. I was on the shore of the first llyn, I’d brought the float tube with me aiming to cover a lot of the lake. Conditions looked good and a few sedge skittered about in the rushes.
I spent a few hours paddling up and down the llyn, fishing all of the likely looking spots – of which there were many! I’d moved one fish (small?) but that was it. It really was slow going, it was like the lake simply hadn’t woken up, no rises no life…..
As I drifted off some lilly pads at the top end the water finally parted and a fish firmly took hold of the fly, just as I hung it near the surface. It plunged and bored, staying deep before it gave up. To my surprise it was a perch – I was expecting trout. It wasn’t a bad one, in good condition.
Fishing onward, I finally saw a singular rise in a shallow bay. Soon after I hooked a trout, about 10oz, that almost looked like a sewin. Another hour or two went by with nothing doing, I neared the place where I had started out and made a few ‘last casts’ – which netted me three moderately sized wild brownies in a row! All of them had the same sewin-like look about them.
I left the peaty waters of the mysteriously dour llyn behind and headed off to the next place, which was accessed through some very narrow single track roads. The final approach would involve a two mile walk through a forest, so I left the tube in the car and struck out on foot.
First glimpse of this llyn revealed a lovely sheet of water – shallow, gin clear and also very weedy. I saw a rise and waded out carefully, making a side arm cast under a pine tree. The line went tight and a good fish was on – a pure bar of gold that jumped high and then buried itself in the thick week, before shedding the hook.
So it held trout and good ones too! It looked like a good pound and a half, a great size for a llyn this high up. I fished for about an hour, working the weed free spots on the far bank. Two more fish hit the fly and came to hand, plus I bumped a few. No monsters, but lovely golden wild trout of about 11 inches.
Bizarrely, I noticed that there were hundreds of flying ants (of the red variety) all over the surface, yet no fish taking them! I’d only seen one rise, that first fish that was lost. How odd, maybe red ants taste bad? Never the less, it was a really nice llyn with a lot of potential – I will be returning next year.
The llyn we were heading to was deep in the Cambrian mountains; a vast expanse of bare rolling hills, clothed only in grass, bracken and bog. This part of Wales has been called a desert (albeit a damp and green one) and before us was an oasis – a beautiful circular llyn heavily edged by reeds, horsetail, lily pads and quaking swamp.
To get here we had tramped for more than 3 miles over the green moors, following the meandering brook that flowed out of the llyn. The final mile had been hard work – it was pathless and entirely covered in tussock grass, or as Alan calls it ‘Disco grass’. I’ve also heard it called ‘babies head’ grass, but whatever you want to call it, the stuff is dreadful to walk through. To make things worse I was also carrying a bag with a float tube in it – we’d heard most of the lake was unfishable due to weed so I thought it might be a good idea to bring it.
Alan headed over to the other side of the llyn to a clear spot while I blew up the tube. As I did I noticed some coch y bonddu beetles in the grass and also in the margins of the lake. So I tied one on my dropper, with the usual streamer on the point.
Launching, I noticed how cold the water felt. It was also very peaty, almost like black coffee. It didn’t feel like June – it was raw and breezy. It was a slow start, and I’d covered a lot of water with no action. Then I saw a good rise, tight to some reeds. I covered it well but no response. It started to rain, and I got pretty cold fast. As soon as the shower passed I had a take – a first fish, 9 inches long and as dark as you would expect from a peaty llyn.
And so it went on, showers and takes. The fish were clustered and just off the weeds in the margins. I had a good number of 8oz fish with a 10 ouncer about the best. All were well fed, certainly not stunted. Almost all my fish had taken the wet coch, so I had put another one on the point which worked.
Alan had done well on the bank, with chest waders he was able to fish a fair bit of the lake. He had stuck with a streamer and out of half a dozen nice fish the best had been a good pound. There are stories of 3lb fish here and I wouldn’t be surprised if that were true.
After two hours we had fished the whole of the llyn, which was pretty small at around 5 acres. I was freezing cold, so I was quite glad to get out of the tube onto dry land. I soon warmed up in the endless tussock grass – it was like being on an assault course. Sore footed, we made our way back to the car, another great day out.