We all have a favoured location on this earth, to which we escape every now and then – a place where one is relaxed, happy and content, although it would be hard to give a reason for these pleasant sentiments.
I lift up mine eyes to the hills for my little piece of earthly paradise – as recommended in the Book of Psalms – and there is Teifi Pools, or just ‘Pools’ to the locals. They are six natural lakes situated in the windswept moors and rolling heartland of the Elenydd Mountains.
Some fifty years ago I recall meeting a stranger on the bank of Llyn Egnant – the most productive of the six lakes. He turned out to be a Harley Street consultant and a regular visitor to the area. He enjoyed his fishing – but gleaned more than that from his visits.
He reckoned that everyone needs the opportunity to escape from the pressures of daily toil and be given the chance to unwind. I could find no fault with his theory; after all, he was a doctor who held the lives of his very important patients in his hands – even royalty, as I was to learn later.
When one visits these mountain lakes one just drowns in the peace and tranquillity of the place. Fishing their waters is both physically and mentally better than taking any pills to counter the strains of daily life. Problems seem to evaporate when one is concentrating on the task of deceiving the fish.
Anglers adopt differing techniques when fishing these highland lakes. A brilliant angler of yesteryear would purchase his permit from the keeper’s wife, fish hurriedly around the four lakes, and return to his car invariably having caught a dozen fish. He covered a lot of ground but also loved studying the fly hatches, which could differ from one location to the next. One of today’s fishers has a similar technique but he walks very, very quickly around the fishery with his loyal greyhound at his side.
The keeper of Teifi Pools was the late Frank Owen – a colourful character who had a totally different style of fishing but was equally successful. Heron-like he would choose one sheltered spot and fish there. His flies resembled a bushy shaving-brush, which he would pull gently over the surface. I tried my luck with both methods but, with advancing years, my style tends to favour that of the old keeper.
River anglers are of the opinion that last season was not good in terms of migratory fish. Sewin and salmon were not as numerous as in bygone years, though there were a few exceptions such as the Dyfi – hence river anglers do not have fond memories of 2013.
However, things are different for fishers of mountain lakes. Their memories abound in exciting times and fish of exceptional quality. Teifi Pools’ trout were a pleasure to behold and proved to all that they had overcome the hard frost at the beginning of the year.
Not many anglers from across Offa’s Dyke travel to Wales to fish our mountain lakes, but things are different with our larger reservoirs. Brenig Reservoir, near Cerrigydrudion, had a very busy season, bringing in much-needed business to the area. Three International Fly Fishing contests, involving the four home nations, were held there in the autumn and such was their popularity that it proved difficult to find a hotel to accommodate the 200 people sitting down for the international dinner. Staging an International event is undoubtedly a boon to the rural economy and our reservoirs need to be in top form to provide quality fish for such major competitions.
Clywedog Reservoir near Llanidloes was also on song this year and produced a huge number of trout weighing over ten pounds – including the jumbo trout of 21 pounds, caught in one competition by 10-year-old Richard Ricketts of Llanfarian.
Such significant catches of big fish attract anglers from afar and news of the capture of these leviathans helps to balance the fishery’s books.
Two other reservoirs with a fleet of boats which could enable them to host international matches are Trawsfynydd and Llysyfran. These two reservoirs are also open to fly-fishers and also to bait and spinning-reel anglers.
Having searched the world, I found what I was looking for in Teifi Pools – right on my doorstep. John Leyland, who travelled Wales in 1536, wrote thus about the Pools: ‘None standeth in so rokky and stony soile as the pooles.’
It really is amazing how the many people who visit the Pools love them immediately.
There is a certain charm in being so far away from the madding crowds. Allowing one’s mind and body to have complete rest is a tonic in itself – and was recommended by one of the most distinguished medical minds in the land!
Moc Morgan provides us with a fascinating fishing article every issue. So if you would like to read more articles like this, subscribe to the magazine now.
Words & Pictures: Moc Morgan