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.
I was standing on top of a wind blasted mountain, barely able to keep my footing. The wind howled, and with it came the rain and thick fog. Somewhere far below us was a llyn which we had passed without even seeing. The steep path (if you can call it that) led ever upwards. My companion, Alan, was nothing more than a lurching hooded figure fading in and out of sight.
How we had progressed this far without getting lost was remarkable, yet we were not even half way. We were trekking to one of the most remote llyns in Wales, whose name loosely translates as ‘the lake of the winged creature’. Somewhere up ahead, through the murk lay the lakes of the dogs, another ominously named place which brought to mind Arthur Conan Doyle’s ferocious hound of the baskervilles. The weather certainly suited the tale, and at 2000 feet it was relentless.
After a good hours walk we were completely drenched. We found ourselves taking a break at the outlet of the lower dogs lake, only halfway to our ultimate destination.
Little of this llyn could be seen, other than a reed bed and strange white quartzite boulders. We took a side each and proceeded to fish. Within a short while, several mountain trout came to hand, each one 8 or 9 inches long and dark, typical trout from a high llyn. A few more were bumped and missed.
I waded through the reedbed and conveniently found it floated, like a mattress, allowing me to cover fresh water with the ferocious wind at my back. On the way back to shore I found myself sinking helplessly into a bottomless ooze of peat, I was really lucky to get out of it without getting stuck. Lesson learnt – don’t wade in a reed bed miles from nowhere!
There were another two llyns here, each higher again. However we decided to press on, hoping the fog would lift.
The next part of the trekk found us shambling over trackless moors where heather and bilberry grew amongst treacherous green bog. We had to check our bearings a few times on my phone (remarkably I had occasional signal!) It took some time, but eventually we came to a rain swollen rivulet that took us to the remote llyn.
There are tales of big fish from this place. It is said the fish average over a pound, with monsters present that would grace a glass case. Its also said to be a dour, deep llyn which most of the time keeps its secrets.
From what we could see of the lake it was indeed deep and dour, with rocky banks that sheered steeply into dark boulder strewn depths. Wading was difficult, so for the most part we had to scramble about above the water.
Today we had our work truly cut out – the wind must have been 40mph or more – with visibility at nearly zero! We could barely throw a line – the wind would gust and squall violently, and the banks were slippery and treacherous. This limited where we could fish to just a few places. I managed to find a good spot on a rocky islet that allowed me to get a line out a fair way.
Persistence paid off – I managed to capture two perfectly formed trout, each one hardly longer than my hand. Granted, they were not the giant creatures of myth, but we both had a few savage pulls which in my mind could have been good sized fish.
We left the llyn after a few hours, sodden and freezing cold. Our final stop was the llyn we had passed on the way up, hidden in the murk. Thankfully the weather had lifted a little, allowing us to enjoy a view of this spectacular corrie lake.
This llyn has a macabre tale – an angler, said to be a carpenter, drowned while fishing the lake, having climbed the sheer cliffs seeking to catch the larger fish that are said to sit beneath them.
Indeed, half of the llyn was very shallow and not so good for fishing. In the gin clear water I actually spotted a few fish swimming about over pale patches of algae on the bottom. A few of these took my fly, smallish fish of from 6 to 10 inches.
The best area proved to be in the deeper water under the slopes. The water appeared black as night, almost fathomless. Here I saw a trout move vertically from the deeps and nail my fly almost under my feet – this one was the best yet, just over a foot long. Several other better fish also came to hand here. I didn’t risk the very steepest part, it looked dangerous, although I did see some temping rises just below them, they weren’t enough to lure me to a potential watery death!
We’d had a full day out, having walked a total of 12km accross some extremely challenging terrain. Sore footed we headed back to civilisation to dry off, content that we had caught fish from all three llyns. Another great adventure completed.