An Article by Alan Parfitt.

We live in an age of superlatives when people of talent are elevated to genius status and those who profess to be knowledgeable are classed as experts.

This is very regrettable since it means that with so many geniuses and experts around us it degrades those rare and special individuals who truly deserve the status these terms imply.

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 these 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” I hear 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 too are an expert in something too

A good day out in my fishing terms is to fish in a place where at that moment in time you can say to yourself there is no place on earth I would rather be today.

To make it a good day, I need good weather, beautiful surroundings, excellent fishing, exercise, somewhere I can take my dog, wildlife and solitude.

You do not need all of these criteria but the more you have the better the day out. To me the top priority is location.

I more than once have been compelled to lift my arms towards the heavens purely at the joy of being there.

To try and elevate my status even further as an expert (or to appear even cockier) I should say that to be able to consistently have a good day out is not an easy task.

You need many years of practice in order to try the various disciplines of fishing, travel to a huge range of locations and develop a basic competence in the various techniques. In reality that is a load of rubbish. I have been having great days out my entire fishing career.

The expertise is in knowing exactly want I want and how to get it.

It’s still a tall order but I have reduced it to two basic categories, which invariably manage to give me my good day out. I shall talk about just one of these, the lakes or Llyns of Wales

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 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.

These hill trout get a large proportion of their food from wind blown terrestrial insects and the start of the productive fishing coincides with their appearance. All hill fishermen wait in anticipation of the hatch which occurs as the new seasons’ moorland grass begins to grow in earnest. The Coch a bonddu is the of the hills. It is a reddish brown beetle not unlike a ladybird in dimensions, which appear in huge numbers.

Blown on to water by the thousands on warm breezy days they bring every trout in the Llyn into a feeding frenzy. It is the Coch hatch which brings the hill fish into prime condition after their long winter of semi starvation.

I once witnessed the surface of one Llyn so alive with rising fish it appeared to be covered with the white horses you get on the water in windy weather.

The Coch hatch is usually towards the end of May and continues for a few weeks. Even when the  has subsided the fish still look upwards and it sets the methods for the rest of the season.

My best ever hill brown of three and a half pounds was cruising the lake margins taking Cow dung flies being blown on the water from distant upland pasture.

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 into a couple of inches from the shoreline 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.

Since the trout rely to a large extent on terrestrial insects they are constantly on the alert for surface food.

This dictates to a large extent the most successful methods of fishing. Quite simply you fish the surface i.e. Loch style from the shore.

Not only is it the most enjoyable and a very visual form of fishing but it is also highly successful.

All you need is a bushy bob fly above the sinking point fly.

I like my bob fly to always be in the surface film and to make lots of disturbance.

The bigger the wave the bigger the fly and I often resort to mini-muddlers when the surface is really wild.

Wind is an essential ingredient of a good day’s fishing and thankfully even when things are becalmed in the valleys there is sufficient breeze in the hills to generate at least a ripple.

Rarely is it too windy and the bank I prefer is the one onto which the wind is blowing at an angle of about 45 degrees.

Fly patterns are not vitally important but I would hate to venture out without a supply of traditional patterns like Zulus, Kate Maclaren,s, Haul y gwynt, and Bibio.s for the bob fly while the first choices for the point are always a Mallard and Claret or a Butcher.

Incidentally, my favourite fly in a Coch hatch is hackle less Bibio.

I sometimes tie the point flies on double hooks. This makes them sink a little and acts as an anchor, which in turn causes the bob fly to work better. Alternatively, a little lead on a single hook does the same job.

Another fly that should be in the hill fisher’s armoury is the Woolly Bugger. This is a great fish catcher and if you want to take the specimen fish then you can do no better than try it. It is a fly which often works when the fish are preoccupied which small chironomid type food which cannot be matched.  them as my wise fishing buddy Ceri says.

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 Llyn’s 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.

Many of the natural lakes are in the hands of local angling clubs and some believe it or not are still free.

You need to do your research. The web is the best place to start since the various leaflets and magazines tend to only mention the major fisheries.

The Wye and Usk foundation have recently made Llyn Bugeilyn available while the Tregaron club has the well-known Teifi pools fishery.

In north Wales try Cambrian fly fishers. These will give you a start.

As I write this it is early May. These fish are up on the fin and the Coch hatch is about to start. Get up into those hills and you to can become an expert in your own eyes if not anyone else’s.