Fly Fishing Wales

Guided trips on river and lake

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Bass Fishing In Wales – November Visit to Pembrokeshire

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.

Vaughan fishing on the rocks

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.

Check out Salt water fly fishing Wales for more information.

Fly Fishing For Trout In Madeira

A few years ago, whilst on a family holiday I experienced some unusual freshwater fly fishing on the sub-tropical island of Madeira…..

With the prospect of a two week cruise holiday to the Canary islands, Portugal and Madeira with absolutely no fishing, I started to research our stop-off destinations for fishing opportunities – just in case there was a slim chance of wetting a line! Madeira was our first landing place, and looked the most likely option.

When you think of Madeira you automatically think of big game fish – wahoo, tuna, sailfish that sort of stuff. Although a pure adrenaline rush if you actually hook a fish, for me this sort of fishing can be a bit tedious, time consuming and expensive in reality; so to my surprise when I googled ‘fishing in Madeira’ I discovered that the island also has rivers containing trout.

Digging deeper I found a guided fishing service located in Funchal, just outside the port where I would disembark. ‘Mad Trout Maderia’ was the name of the outfitter, and after a quick Facebook message I found they offered very reasonable rates for guided trips to the best streams, including pick up and drop off back to the port – just perfect for a quick holiday fishing fix.

Port of Funchal – Madeira.

The day came and we docked at the port of Funchal. A quick bus ride into the town center, and I was met by Joao Mata, one of the Mad Trout guides. Joao was easily identifiable in a columbia shirt, cap and polarized glasses. After a quick meet and greet, Joao ushered me into an unlikely looking vehicle for a fishing guide – a smart car.

We began our journey through the steep and winding streets of Funchal, until we passed through the city and onto the roads the encircle the island. The views as we drove were spectacular; the islands interior soared green and steep thousands of meter’s above us. Some of the roads on our contorted route went through extremely long tunnels dug through the mountains, and others on ledges high above the crashing sea. Glimpses of rocky rivers came and went as we drove. Joao explained we were heading to the north side of the island, which was the steeper side and more exposed to the prevailing moist Atlantic winds.

Winding road to the interior

As our journey progressed we talked about the history of trout fishing on the Island. Joao explained they were introduced it the 1950’s, and rainbows and browns were initially stocked. The browns pretty much vanished and didn’t thrive, but the rainbows went on to flourish.

Rainbows manage to reproduce naturally in Madeira.

Although it should be technically impossible, the rainbows manage to spawn in some streams and are now reproducing naturally. This may be because the center of the island is high enough to get some snow in winter, and the water filters in and under volcanic rock so the many streams are cold enough to support salmonid fish above 200 meter altitude.

Most of the streams in Maderia now hold rainbow trout; they are able to spread due to the extensive network of Levadas – man-made water channels designed to carry water from excess rainfall in the interior to the agricultural fields that extend all around the island. Some streams are still kept stocked from a fish farm on the Island to provide some ‘trophy’ fishing, but the vast majority are wild.

Joao Fishing the Ribeira do Seixal – A stream full of trout.

There were plenty of nice looking rivers to be seen on our route, however Joao explained not all are easily fishable – apparently many are so steep and rocky that getting into the ravines can be very tricky, and you may find only a few yards of fishable water before a rock the size of a house completely blocks your path. So today we were heading to a prolific stream with decent access called the ”Ribeira do Seixal” at the north east corner of the Island.

Our final ascent took us into a steep ravine, with a recent landslip on the flank of the mountain side at the parking spot. Far above us green clad forest slopes rose into the clouds. The temperature this high up was surprisingly cool, with a stiff wind coming off the sea, funneling up the gorge. Thankfully it was at my back!

We reached the stream – it was fairly small, very rocky with gin clear water which took on a pure blue colour from the rock, and absolutely beautiful. Deep plunge pools and pocket water were the order of the day.

I had brought along two rods with me, a 10 foot 3/4 and 7’6 3/4 Airflo streamtec so I rigged up with the long rod and proceeded to tie on a jig nymph on a french leader with a 2.5mm bead. After a few fish-less pools I tied on a much heavier bug on a 5mm on a 12 jig hook, and the results were almost instant. In fact the first strike resulted in a palm size fish flying up and out of the water!

The first fish – wild rainbow perfection.
Joao negotiating his way upstream.

We hopped and scrambled our way up the ravine. It was strenuous stuff, and certainly not the sort of fishing if you are unsure on your feet. There was no need for waders as wading would have been near impossible anyway on the slippery boulders. At one point we scaled an old dam and skirted a Lavada. As we went trout after trout came to hand – most were only a few inches with the best being perhaps 8 -9 in length. All were truly stunning miniature gem-like fish, with an incredible variance in colour – some were almost black, others bright, with all shades in between.

A very dark rainbow trout

I must have had a dozen or so on the french leader, with many more missed and spooked, when I hit a snag and lost the leader end and indicator. This was the perfect time to switch rod to the 7’6 3/4, with Airflo Super-dri Xceed 3 Weight line. Joao had suggested a big dry, as it was his favourite method and the most fun.

So, despite the complete lack of fly or rises I tied on a big klinkhammer. The results were instantaneous – from the word go the fish wanted the dry, and launched themselves from all manner of deep turbulent holes to get it, often in kamakazie attacks at the last minute, or even in groups. Many were missed and lost, but it was great sport and the much softer rod was much more fun.

The klinkhammer was greedily devoured!

As we worked our way up most likely looking pools held fish. The scenery was stunning, and the location was as unique and remote as anything I have yet fished in my angling career.

Rock hopping in Maderia

After around 4 hours I began to tire – the rock hopping was taking its toll! We worked our way back downstream, fishing the choice spots where we had spooked fish earlier. In the end I was creeping behind rocks and dropping the fly on a downstream drift into pocket – and the ravenous fish obliged. I had long lost count of the fish numbers by then, so I asked Joao ”How many do you think?” His reply – ”Forty plus .. Just like the line!”

We were done for the day, and began our descent from the mountains. Joao insisted we stop at a ‘poncha’ bar for a quick drink on the way back to warm us up – poncha being the true locals drink made with local sugar cane rum, honey, sugar, lemon rind and with orange juice. True to it’s name it did pack a punch!

Madeira is certainly something different, and the streams are well worth fishing if you find yourself on the island. I can heartily recommend services of Mad Trout Madeira – thanks Joao and the Mad trout team for a great day.

For details of Madeira fly fishing visit

Fly Fishing Ireland – River Fishing in County Wexford

A write up of summer holiday fishing in Co. Wexford, August 2016. Conveniently, our holiday cottage was very close to a good Irish trout stream!

It was that time of year again for a family holiday. My destination this summer was the Republic of Ireland, a thatched cottage near Ballyedmond in rural County Wexford to be precise. Naturally I had to scope out the fishing opportunities in the area.

I began researching the region online. It turned out County Wexford has no Loughs or stillwater’s of any note, so the options would have to be river angling. As it happens it looked like we were practically on the banks of a tributary of the Ounavarragh (or Owenavorragh) river, an 18 mile long trout, salmon and sea trout fishery flowing through verdant Irish country side. There was scant information available online about this river, but I did manage to locate a blog style website for the local fishing club, detailing where to get permits.

The Owenavorragh County Wexford.

Next thing was to ensure the trout fishing river gear was organised and packed. A tip for doing this is to create a ‘favourites’ fly box and really strip down your tackle. I managed to compact everything into a TF Gear F8 chest pack. My chosen rod was a 7’6 #3/4 weight Streamtec rod, in 4 sections so easily stowable.

Once in Ireland (after the obligatory first pint of Guinness!) The mission to find a permit began. The ice cream parlor was closed, I went to the wrong Jewellers store, but eventually the right place was located, only to find the usual mild confusion when requesting a ticket. All was sorted when Pascal, the proprietor at Whitmores Jewellers emerged at the counter. A lovely chap, he gave me a few tips on where to head. For just 25 Euro for the week I was all set.

Unfortunately you don’t get a map with your ticket, so it was a case of working it out yourself by doing a bit of driving about and looking over bridges for likely spots – all part of the fun.

After enjoying a nice family day out, I was set to hit the river for the first time, snatching a few hours in the late afternoon on quite a warm day. The spot I found was near where we were staying on the upper reaches of the river. It wasn’t really a river here, more a brook to be fair. Slow to moderate flow, weedbeds and nice undercut banks all looked very fishy.

Rising Trout on the first bend.

Ducking under a bridge, I spotted a riser on the first bend which came to hand on a dry ant pattern. A small jewel like fish, pretty as a picture. Working upriver, overhead trees and undergrowth made for challenging fishing, but it’s what I am used to on the Wye and Usk streams at home. A few more beautiful little trout came to hand – mainly on dries and the duo, even streamers worked in some very slow still segments.

Small but perfectly formed – victim of the du0

What stuck me immediately was the sheer quantity of fish – each and every pool was literally swarming with them. Now this isn’t usually a problem (quite the opposite for most places!) but in this case I have to say there are almost too many fish in this river! This created an issue, because as soon as I moved into a new pool numerous ‘sentries’ at the tail end bolted upriver, altering every fish in the area. Once this happened, the small gin clear pools were literally churned up with dozens of stampeding spooked brownies; many were small 6 – 8 inch fish but with a few bigger ones thrown into the mix. Most of my fish therefore came to longer range casts than normal for a small stream.

Meadow stretch of the Owenavorragh river.

Next outing I tried a few miles further down river. Here the river was a little bigger, with nice meadow pools going into a wooded section above a bridge. The issue remained with the sheer numbers of small spooky fish, making it tough. Still, I winkled out quite a few; beauties each one – small but perfectly formed. The duo method worked best, casting into any pool head or crease, closer to the bank the better. Some of the sections were deepish slow water with little flow making the duo hard to fish. A solution was to pitch a streamer upriver, into the edges on a longer line. A sink and draw retrieve got me plenty of hits, and lured a few better fish from under bankside cover.

Streamers can be surprising effective on small rivers.

As holiday time is precious, particularly with the weather being exceptionally good I took to visiting the Owenavorragh early mornings, for just a few hours before breakfast. 6.30 am starts are worth it – stunning sunrises, misty banks and jewel like trout were the reward. I also observed a large shoal of sea trout in one crystal clear pool, quite a sight.

Stunning Irish stream trout – worth getting up early for!

My favourite part of the fishing (and the holiday overall) was taking my two girls aged 5 and 7 fishing on the small tributary just a minutes walk down the road from our cottage. This was just a tiny brook, but with one big pool which was teeming with trout. Fishing one at a time, part of the adventure was us clambering down to the water, wading ankle deep under a bridge and then creeping up on the trout through thick undergrowth.

I attached a Fulling Mill mini pimp indicator to the leader with a small nymph and instructed the girls to watch it – any movement and we would strike! As it happened, we had over a dozen fine Irish trout from that spot, plus spotted an eel and other stream-life. The girls were thrilled to go fishing and we carefully returned all fish to the water after taking a look at them – hopefully giving them the angling bug for life. I’m proud to say It was their highlight of the holiday as well as mine.

Successful stream angling in Ireland.

The River Owenavorragh isn’t a ‘big fish’ river, but it is one of the prettiest I have ever fished, with wild trout to match. A lovely location and well worth wetting a line in if you are in that part of Ireland.

Wild brown trout gallery 2019

Thought I’d post a few brown trout images from my fishing adventures in Wales this year. The fishing was excellent on the rivers and llyns, especially early and late in the season.

Welsh rivers and lakes have really abundant stocks of wild fish – long may it continue! Looking forward to next spring already….

Fly Fishing The Elan Valley

I recently enjoyed a cracking late season day roaming the banks of Craig Goch reservoir, Elan valley, with my good mate Alan Parfitt of the Gwent Angling Society.

The Elan dams really are a beautiful part of Wales to fish for wild trout, especially in autumn. We walked and fished our way around the whole of Craig Goch – a total of 7.5 miles!

The fish were quite spread out and not really in the mood, but we did capture plenty of pretty browns to about a pound in weight. We probably spent more time walking than fishing though, but it was worth it – a breathtaking place to enjoy a few hours with the fly rod.

Alan worked his magic with the camera once again – the pictures below are just a sample. The best are being saved for a new ‘Fishing In Wales‘ website and possibly a magazine feature.

Fly Fishing In Iceland – A Few Images

I visited Iceland for the first time in in July, using outfitter Fish Partner to book the fishing. To be fair, the trip was incredible – I’d definitely do it again. A very detailed write up of the trip will feature in an upcoming issue of Fly Fishing & Fly Tying Magazine.

I took an enormous amount of images, many of which were not quite magazine standard, but worth posting for posterity. With so many of them spare, I’ve upload a few ‘b-roll’ images here as a gallery. It should give you an idea of what a special place Iceland is.

An arctic char – stunning fish
Dusk on the Os’ beat
Fly fishing the Tungnaa’ river
Char from Tungnaa’ river
A lonely church – lake Ulfjotsvatn
Kristjan of Fish Partner showing us the waterfalls beat in the highlands

September Llyn Fishing in Remote Ceredigion

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.

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Float tube fishing on a llyn

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.

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Perch from a Welsh llyn

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.

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A silvery llyn trout

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.

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Cambrian mountain llyn

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.

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Wild trout from a weedy llyn

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 Green Desert Of Wales – Tramping Through Tussocks

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.

A weedy llyn in the green desert of Wales

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.

Tussock grass all the way….

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.

Launch spot for the float tube

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.

Float Tubing around the weed beds

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.

One on a wet coch

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.

One of Alan’s good llyn trout

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.

The stream from the llyn

Float Tubing In The Hills – Wild Trout Action On The Teifi Pools

Wales is quite rightly known for its spectacular mountainous terrain dotted with natural lakes, or llyns as we call them. Almost all of them hold native wild brown trout, some just mere fingerlings whilst others contain good quality fish of several pounds in weight. Snowdonia of course comes to mind instantly, but there are many lesser known parts of Wales dotted with llyns that can provide exciting sport for beautifully marked wild fish.

The Cambrian mountains of central Wales are such a place; here the terrain is slightly softer than the north, with rolling hills, tussock grass, peat bog and wetland among the rocky crags. This is a favourite place of mine to fish; there are many trout lakes to choose from here, some of which require a walk of several miles across bleak moors, while others are quite easily accessible, yet retain a true wilderness feel. One such location is the Teifi pools, situated in upland countryside in deepest Ceredigion, where the terrain is simply breathtaking. If you crave solitude when you fish, the Teifi pools are the perfect spot to get away from it all.

Llyn Teifi in the Cambrian mountains

Despite their remote feel and appearance, the pools can be reached by a small metalled track that allows you to park right next to some of them. The llyns are completely natural in origin, although some have had small dams added in order to convert them into a water supply. They have been fished and documented by visiting anglers for hundreds of years and have always offered excellent wild brown trout fishing. The fish, whilst not huge by stocked fishery standards offer great sport – if you can get your head round the fact that a pounder is a good one and a two pounder is something really special, then you are going to love the place.

The lakes

The famous River Teifi originates in llyn Teifi, the largest pool, one of a complex of six llyns in total. The others are llyn Hir (the long lake), llyn Egnant (the lake of the church), llyn Du (the black lake) and llyn Y Gorlan (lake of the enclosure) and Pond y gwaith (lake of work). Lying in a stretch of barren rocky wilderness of at least 1500 elevation, each llyn has its own unique character and a different strain of trout in each one.

Fishing is available by day ticket on llyn Teifi, llyn Hir and llyn Egnant only, with fishing rights being owned by Tregaron Angling Association. Handily, permits are also available online with the Wye and Usk foundations fishing passport scheme. Fishing is for the most part from the bank, however it is possible to float tube on the pools, another reason to pay this special part of the world a visit.

Llyn Teifi is over 70 acres. Surrounded by steep, almost sheer sides in places it has many bays and points. It generally produces the most fish, although usually of a smaller average size than the others and often quite dark in colour. Abundant spawning must be provided by the many small streams that feed the lake. Half a pound would be a fair average here, although larger specimens of around the pound mark are often caught. Here the water carries a slightly peaty tinge, typical of most acidic upland waters.

Llyn Teifi
Llyn Teifi – sunny and gin clear!

To the east Llyn Hir is around 20 acres and long and narrow in shape, with gin clear water and for the most part steep, rocky banks that drop off rapidly to around 20 foot depth. There are no inflowing streams, so peaty matter doesn’t get into the lake as much as the others, perhaps accounting for the crystalline water. The trout here tend to be larger and of better quality than the others, probably due to limited spawning grounds, which means there is less competition for food. Due to its clarity and low stock density this lake is always the most challenging, but if you can catch one, it’s usually a spectacular golden specimen of over a pound in weight.

Llyn Egnant is approximately 50 acres and has quite dark, peaty water. In places shallow submerged beds of peat extend out into the lake with surprising drop offs. Marginal rocks and boulders are stained black, giving an almost volcanic feel especially if the water level is low. On one occasion I used a portable FishSpy echo Sounder and found Egnant to be over 60 feet deep. The surroundings are a bit less rugged, with rolling hills enclosing the lake. Here a good compromise can be found between average size and fish abundance, making it the best all-round lake in the complex. Fish from 9 to 16 inches are common. The trout here are typically very dark specimens, with large black velvety spots. There is a lighter colour morph, said to be introduced by the Monks in medieval times. These tend to be silvery with more red spots. The contrast may in fact be due to bottom substrate differences; the far side of the lake has more gravel, which is paler.

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Llyn Egnant silver trout colour morph

I usually visit the Teifi pools at least once a year and have done on and off over a period of two decades. These lakes follow cycles; some years there are lots of smaller fish, and at other times they are few and far between but all relatively large.  One thing I have noticed in recent years is a noticeable improvement in fish numbers, quality and average size. Importantly fly life seems to have improved drastically. This could be down to improved farming practices and a change in the usage of sheep dipping chemicals from extremely toxic organo-phosphates. Acid rain has also been a factor in the past – thankfully coal burning for electricity is being phased out and we are now seeing the upland areas recover. Whatever the cause of the improved fishing, there has never been a better time to visit the pools and enjoy the fine scenery.

Last year (2018) I ventured up to the pools in early May, along with Airflo fly line production manager Mike Morgan. Our intention was to enjoy a full day on the water, fishing from dawn till dusk. The float tubes were packed, with this method being the most enjoyable way to fish these pools. The tubes have many advantages; firstly you are able to cover water efficiently and reach spots that never see an angler, secondly your movement is silent and your profile low to the water, allowing you to approach spooky fish, thirdly you can present your flies tight to the bank; right over the drop offs and rocky reefs where the trout lie in wait.

After a quiet drive along B roads and then winding country lanes we finally reach the mountainous and rugged landscape of the Teifi pools. Llyn Egnant was our first stop, the furthest pool in the complex.  We were greeted by a mirror calm lake, with the sun already bright and strong overhead at 6.30am. Far from ideal conditions, but a beautiful day for enjoying the scenery! We could see the occasional rise, most of them in the margins, which are covered in a literal soup of buzzer shucks. Of course, fishing on the bank in these conditions would probably result in a blank most of the time, but with the tubes we were confident of salvaging the day, despite there being barely a cloud in the sky or a breath of wind.

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A mirror calm Llyn Egnant

In conditions this calm the perfect stealth line is the Airflo Sixth Sense slow intermediate, which cuts just below the surface film allowing you to fish your flies sub-surface without making a fish spooking wake. Regarding flies, these hungry wild fish are not too fussy; provided your presentation is good.  Most dark traditional wet fly patterns work well here, especially those with a touch of red. For example, bibio, blue zulu and black Pennell. One particular favourite for me is the Ke-he, which features a combination of peacock herl, soft hen hackle, pheasant tippet and a red tag. It is suggestive of many food items and importantly has multiple trigger points. I tie one on in size 12. I’m not mucking about with teams of flies today; sorting out a tangle in the tube can be a nuisance, but more importantly a single fly on a long leader is going to make a huge difference with the presentation, given the bright and still conditions. 6lb G3 fluorocarbon is added to an 8 foot Airflo intermediate polyleader, making my leader 20 foot long for stealth and accuracy.

We inflate the tubes and enter the water as softly as we can, quietly paddling our way along the banks. We are able to get quite close to the moving fish, some of which are mere yards off the shore. If we had been standing on the bank, no doubt the noise and shadows we would have generated would have sent these fish scurrying into the deep water. I cover a fish and gently draw the fly over the rings of the rise. The low stretch core indicates a fish has taken, and I lift the rod into a nice fish of around a pound that fights hard despite its size. The morning goes on with us both catching some nice fish, with plenty between 14 to 16 inches in length coming to the net – a decent average for an acidic hill lake. It becomes a little easier once a ripple sets in, and we enjoy catching quite a few between us. As the sun gets higher into the sky, the action really slows and by 10 am the moving trout have disappeared into the depths, despite some pond olives making an appearance.

We decide to give one of the other lakes a bash, Llyn Hir, which is only about 200 yards walk over the crest of a small hill. We reach the rocky shore of this lake and can see instantly that the water is much clearer. There is no sign of any surface activity, but there is a little more wind. Kicking out into the southern, more enclosed portion of the lake I make a long cast right down the middle, which trails behind me as I head to a rock island. A sharp pull, and I’m in right away! It seems like a decent fish, for 10 seconds I can’t do a thing with it, and then it drops off. Shortly after I get another savage pull, which doesn’t stick. It’s a good start, as getting a take here, let alone a fish can sometimes be hard to come by. Things don’t pick up however, so a few hours later I’m cursing myself for the missed opportunities. Mike also hasn’t had much joy, with the sun mercilessly beating down it looks like we are going to have to give it a break until evening.

The walk to llyn Hir with float tube
On the water at llyn Hir

On the verge of heading off, I make a cast towards an almost vertical rock wall, which is partially shaded; the flies swing around in a nice curve as I paddle slowly past. Suddenly the line jags away and this time the fish is firmly on. It’s incredibly strong and next thing I know all of my line has been taken and I’m on the reel – the new Airflo V2. The drag clicks away as the fish bores around me and makes a few strong runs. It takes a good few minutes to even catch a glimpse; it stays deep down in the gin clear water.  I finally get his head up and into the net. It’s a magnificent gold cock fish of 18 inches in length – which is about as big as they get up here. I’m made up; this stunning fish really is the ‘king of the long lake’. I decide to head in for a break, and since it’s a paddle of about half a mile back to the exit point I tie on a woolly bugger and troll it behind me as I go. This works, and I pick up two fish, both nice specimens of around 15 inches that like the big one really give it their all.

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A great fish from Llyn Hir

Back on dry land we head back over to llyn Egnant and take a well earned lunch break. We rest our now tired legs for a few hours, waiting for the evening rise to begin. Around 7.00pm it’s still ridiculously bright and hot, but we decide to head across the llyn and fish some remote bays which normally produce a few nice fish. It’s a slow start, with a couple of bumps and lost fish. But as soon as the angle of light changes things suddenly improve. Pods of fish begin roaming the drop off just yards away from us, sipping buzzer and any terrestrial insects that have found their way into the margins. We are in just the right position and a quick flurry of fish follows, including a stunning dark cock fish with blood red spots. This beauty, like the others today, fights like an absolute demon for its size.

llyn egnant cock fish
A cracking Llyn Egnant cock fish

The evening continues to fish well, we both catch consistently as the light drops, often casting to moving fish in just a foot of water that are oblivious to our presence thanks to the float tubes. We are hoping to fish through till about 9.00pm, but a chill suddenly fills the valley and an eerie, thick mist begins to roll its way insidiously towards us as the temperature inverts. Within minutes we are enveloped – I can barely see Mike just 10 yards away! Despite this we still manage to catch a few more before we leave the water, shrouded in a mysterious blanket of dense fog.

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Fishing in a eerie mist on Llyn Egnant

Between us we have had more than two dozen nice wild brown trout, so the trip has been a great success. Above all it’s been a truly wild, liberating experience in a spectacular landscape, something that everyone should try in their fishing lifetime. We will be back.

Fishing on Teifi pools is controlled by Tregaron Angling Association. We purchased our day tickets via the Wye and Usk foundation’s Fishing Passport website.

This article originally appeared in issue 2 of Today’s Fly Fisher Magazine.

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