It came from the deep!
Gareth Jones switches from dry fly to the complete opposite to save the day at Llyn Clywedog...
Gareth Jones switches from dry flies to lures to save the day at Llyn Clywedog
IT’S been a long time since I last visited Cly wedog, despite it only being about 90 minutes from my home; it’s not been on my rounds for almost 20 years. Back then, me and Russ Owen fished a lot together and I regularly found myself at a venue that was not just a fantastic water for dr y f ly f ishing, but also offered a really friendly atmosphere that club-run waters seam to nurture. Roll the clock to present day and the club has done an exceptional job, a new lodge is proudly positioned on site, a f irst-class jetty with increased numbers of boats and, more importantly, the addition of petrol engines has really opened up the whole of the lake for a day’s f ishing. Being run by fishermen who are on site on a daily basis means that the stock levels can be controlled to provide year-round consistent sport and the information coming from the lodge is bang up to date. So consistent is the sport that even midweek sees the majority of the 20 -plus boat f leet out on the water. Clywedog is approximately 600 acres, but due to its ver y irregular shape it seems much larger with a multitude of small bays where you can get away from it all on what must be one of the most dramatic-looking f isheries in the countr y.
On our trip, I hope to show Peter Gathercole a great day f ishing dr y f ly around the edges with the infamous coch-y-bonddu beetle that you find here in great numbers at this time of year. This beetle is a poor f lyer and gets blown on to the water where the fish gorge on these lumpy snacks right off the top. However, the weather has different ideas and after the best part of a week of high temperatures, the surface water temperature has risen to over 20 degrees C and, despite food being available on the surface, the fish don’t want to move through the uncomfortable surface water to take the treats.
First drift I tr y the dries, a mix of foam Coch y Bonddu beetle imitations and Brow n Bits just short lined, drifting close to the shore on the north side of the lake. I raise a f ish f irst cast and on the f irst drif t land a couple of six-inch browns – but not the lumpy rainbows that Cly wedog is building a reputation on. I test the surface water with my thermometer and quickly realise that I’d have to go deeper to get a couple of f ish. So off with the dries and out with a fast glass line, Black & Green Tadpole and a couple of wets. I quickly get into a f ish drifting into Carters Bay. However, this poor chap has a cormorant mark down one side and – despite looking in great condition – we’ll have to get a betterlooking f ish for the camera. Now this was supposed to be a leisurely day out on the dries, but the conditions make it ver y tricky and when I do hook
another good rainbow of 3lb-plus, I lose it ver y close to the boat – the look on Peter’s face is a picture. It’s going to be one of those days. Now Cly wedog is a well-stocked, well-run fisher y but, given the conditions, any chance of surface sport has disappeared and instead of trying to make it happen high in the water, I’ll have to go deeper in search of some fish.
Under the cages
I know just the place to try. Just out from the lodge the lake narrows and this is where the f ish-rearing cages are found. So, a quick change of location, on with a Di-7 40 -plus line and the only Snake I have in my box. We’re ready to go and explore. Just at the end of the f irst drift with the new set up I hook a good f ish, certainly in excess of 5lb and play it almost to the boat when, you’ve guessed it, the barbless Snake pops out and Peter sinks even further into the boat. One of the weird things about Cly wedog is, because of its shape, the wind can get channelled in all directions and tr y ing to count the line down to about 20 seconds can prove diff icult.
A lost monster
A nother drift closer to the line of buoys around the cage and the wind drops just as we hit prime position, the countdown
is easy and controlled and with a slow roly-poly retrieve, the whole lot locks up and I’m into something huge. Cly wedog has seen a string of large f ish landed up to 20lb and, while this fish may not be a 20 -pounder, it’s certainly well into double f ig ures. Tr ying to hold the f ish and reverse the boat away from all the buoys, ever y thing looks good and I’m just starting to get ever y thing under control when the fish has other ideas – running directly for the ropes and stringing my line up around them. I’m distraught, having hooked into two great f ish on a tough day, only to lose them!
On with a Humungus
The Snake is now gone and the only thing I have left in my box is a Humungus. Fishing this in the same way, I get into plenty of good rainbows and blues – mostly in the 2-3lb class and f ight hard. But I can’t help but be a little disappointed thinking what could have been a fantastic brace of f ish for the ar ticle. Having wrapped up the feature and with Peter having such a long drive home, I suggest one last drift before we call it a day. Again the 20 second count and slow roly-poly produce the take and while the initial pull isn’t too aggressive, we quickly realise that this isn’t a reg ular-sized f ish and I start to play it with a little more care and attention – I can’t possibly lose another large f ish today? A fter about f ive minutes of to and fro, the f ish breaks the surface and the expected silver f lank is actually golden brown. Realising what is on the end, I play this f ish like my life depends on it and – despite its obvious power – we get it in the net with a huge sigh of relief. At nearly 6lb, this is my best-ever brown from the lake and more than makes up for the lost rainbows earlier in the day. So, the moral of the day is to f ish the methods that the current conditions dictate – you never know what may turn up.
“The moral of the day is to fish the methods that the conditions dictate.”
Who wouldn’t be happy with a trophy brown like this.
Llyn Clywedog nestles amid stunning, rugged Mid Wales scenery. A figure-of-eight retrieve was useful but the big brown fell to a roly-poly.
Gareth prepares to net a fish that scrapped right to the very end. Clywedog rainbows are well-formed with full tails. Gareth also caught hardfighting blue trout, a strain of rainbow.