|Escape To The Hills|
An Article by Alan Parfitt.
So what do these terms mean?
Genius should be reserved for extremely few individuals.
They are people who display extra ordinary abilities, which the rest of us cannot hope to achieve or even fail to comprehend.
The criteria for application of the term expert are less stringent.
I go for the one that an expert is someone who has an extremely detailed knowledge of something or a specific skill.
To be an expert is within the ability of most of us given enough dedication.
At what level you apply this criteria is open to debate but having been fortunate enough to meet lots of fisherman over a number of years I concluded there are lots of competent fishermen but very few experts. What do you think?
Now I have got this off my chest I am going to boldly claim, with tongue in cheek, to be an expert. “Cocky so and so” you say. An expert in what? My answer is an expert in “having a good day out”.
You cannot really argue over my self imposed status because I alone am the judge in this matter. You in turn can decide if you to are an expert in something too
The upland lakes or Llyns are among the jewels of the principality. Remote and rarely visited some contain natural stocks of our native Brown trout while others were stocked generations ago by local farmers, quarrymen and estate workers.
Frank Ward in is 1930.s book “The lakes of Wales list over 500 of them. Most of them are located in the north though enough exist in the central and southern regions which make fishing them accessible to all.
Years ago industrial workers sought relief from the vicissitudes of life by walking to these upland gems.
Today apart from a few of the more accessible waters, particularly if they stocked, many Llyns now remain in complete isolation apart from the occasional hiker.
Fishermen who these days regularly make the effort to fish the llyns are in effect paying homage to a traditional part of Welsh culture now sadly almost disappeared.
I suppose it is in my interests of having a good day out not to advertise or promote these lakes since increased popularity might lead the loss of one of their major appeals which is solitude. I shall take a chance.
Many reservoirs have been constructed in the Welsh hills and these have become well known fisheries with both stocked and native fish. A few such as Claerwen are run as wild fisheries and can be treated in many ways as natural llyns but it is the natural llyns which have the most appeal.
Unlike the man made waters the natural llyns have shallow margins, weeds and a variety of features which make fishing them far more interesting.
The wildlife is more abundant and above all the fish truly wild. Many will never have seen an artificial fly before. Most the Welsh upland lakes have peat or acidic substrates which makes them quite infertile with poor trout growth rates.
Despite the further degradation of water quality through acid rain they survived and with a huge reduction in sulphur emission in the last 20years things are looking brighter. Many Llyns are full of stunted 4 to 6 inch fish, which are still great to catch, take your fly with gay abandon, and jump and fight like fury.
A few contain much better fish and it is possible to catch specimens of 2 to 3lbs. These are magnificent fish and worth every ounce of the energy needed to get them. A 2lb hill browny is equivalent in achievement to a 10lb sewin and there is no way I am going to let on where these special Llyns are. Anyway I don’t know that many. Go and find out for yourself and you will have lots of great days out.
The Welsh Llyns are “late” lakes since many of them are well above 1000ft. The fish do not come into condition until well into spring. You can catch fish in March and April if the weather is kind but it is from early May onwards that the fishing gets good.
Forget about Rainbow trout when fishing for wild browns. If you want to pick a likely spot and stand there all day casting your line then carry on.
You may get one or two but that will be it.
Rainbows are cruisers, Browns territorial. If you see a brown rise in a particular location it will still probably still be there a few hours later.
The age-old advice of cast and make a step still holds true.
To catch your fish you need to find them and to do that you need to move.
Small bays and promontories are often good spots and may encourage you to linger while you might skip straight past open banking to get to the next feature.
You do not need to cast far. Fish can move in to a couple of inches from the shore line if the insects have collected there.
It is then possible to stalk them as you would on a small river and can be tremendous fun.
I tend to cast a line short enough to allow virtually no false casting which over a long day eases the burden on your arms and helps obtain a smooth rhythmic pattern.
Eventually you learn to read the natural lakes just like a river and in some spots you just know there will be a fish to catch. Many fish will show themselves as the take insects off the surface and make easy targets.
Claerwen and Nant y Moch reservoirs must both be at least10 km. in circumference and by fishing in the cast and walk style you can cover most if not the whole shores in a day.
The smaller natural hill llyns are a doodle and you can make a few circuits if you wish.
Obtaining permission, permits or access is problematic. Buying Ordnance survey maps to find out where the Llyns are is easy.
Fishing them legally is another matter. Since Frank Ward published his book things have changed. Waters he listed as free are no longer so while some llyns which were once strictly private are now neglected.
The upland reservoirs are freely available for a modest sum. Claerwen and Nant y moch reservoirs are there for the cost of a day permit.
Although very deep they can be fished as the natural llyns. Claerwen is managed as a wild fishery and is the classic Coch y bonddu water.
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