From source to sea, very few prettier courses cut by a river can exist than that of the Teifi. Revered for its sea-trout, bestowed as the Queen of Welsh-rivers, making it a difficult context to set or etch objectively whilst doing it justice in written form – especially through biased eyes.
Much has been written on the sea-trout fishing opportunities to be explored on the Teifi, yet, as with so many other rivers, the success of one species is often viewed to the detriment of another. Somewhat overshadowing, or repressing opportunities that would otherwise be highly sought. Such is the predicament of the trout of the upper Teifi, which will now be given their just deserves.
Viewed on a map or from a satellite image it becomes evident that Romans had no part to play in the design of the Teifi! The river that distinguishes the divide between two of Wales’ prime game fishing counties; Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire is as straight as the ‘Blue Oyster Bar’. Carving its path ever seaward towards its destination, Cardigan Bay. On the other end of the spectrum are the lakes where the Teifi forms its roots, and this is where this journey will take us.
At the headwaters of the Teifi set steeply within the Cambrian Mountains a series of lakes exist, some of which are natural with others being intensified by dam walls. Bleak, remote, windy, with changeable weather almost to the hour would best describe their setting. However, I think that this is its charm; angler vs. the elements, and nature in its rawest form. A day can be spent exploring the many inlets and bays in complete serenity, where the red kites soar freely once more. Oh yes, and did mention that the trout fishing isn’t bad too?
The controlling body for these lakes is Tregaron Angling Association, where for £10 a roving ticket exists that not only allows you access to four lakes but also prime trout, with salmon and sea-trout towards the latter months of the season, fishing on 22 miles of the upper Teifi. A rare bargain, as I’m sure you’ll agree. This allows the visiting angler to get a taste of both Worlds, perhaps a likely combination being; fishing the lakes by day before returning to an evening rise on the river.
The wind on Teifi lakes shows little empathy to the angler striving and wielding their line. However, take the wind out of the equation and the angler’s catch soon diminishes too. Food supply in these peat laden hill lakes are described as sparse from the most generous of optimists. As such, the fish become opportunists gorging at every available opportunity on terrestrials or other morsels that suffer the ill-fortune of taking an impromptu dip. With this being the case the trout rarely stray far from the bank, good news for the angler, especially in a stiff, uncompromising wind.
Certain banks indubitably fish better than others, and the windward shore often provides the best sport. However, this can, at times, become a misnomer. Especially since the terrestrials become airborne from the opposite side of the lake –be that by choice, or otherwise – either way they have little say in their journey direction or end.
The trout of Teifi Lakes indefinitely become territorial, highlighting the need to travel light and cover the water. Territorial fish usually lay the foundation for picky feeders and tough to fool, educated fish. Not to belittle the trout, but this doesn’t seem to be case on Teifi lakes where the sparse feeding has led to the abandonment of this trait. With this in mind, if an insect gets blown onto the water on a collision course with the windward shore then it is the trout nearest the leeward bank that will get the first and richest pickings. Why then is it that the best bags usually come from the windward shore? That I would account with the rougher and usually more discoloured water that is synonymous with windward shores, which disguise the angler’s presence and their cast, more than the carriage of food in this instance.
Fortunately, rarely would one be confronted with a windless day on such open waters. Whereas five weight rods would give the best sport on the trout that you are likely to catch – which range from a few ounces to fish of near a pound expected on most days – seven weights are more practical to help combat the wind.
Sport begins in earnest around the middle of March on these remote hill lakes. The hibernation period is prolonged due to its openness, exacerbated by cold, fleeting winds that benefit neither the brave nor the slumbering trout. However, ravenous from this lethargic state they awake ever obligingly. Such great fishing can be expected through to late September, weather permitting.
Fly patterns, as always, should rarely deviate from what is found naturally and therefore fed on naturally. A few minutes spent at the water’s edge and walking through the surrounding grass will be time well spent, and should pay dividends. Dependent on the time of year, the banquet bill would include; midges, beetles, spiders, daddies, with the great red sedge making sporadic appearances on warm summer evenings – which are a large food item for the trout and, as such, seem to lose all inhibitions when chasing these skittering morsels.
However, as noted, the trout are opportunists and general ‘loch-style’ patterns can and should be adopted – especially since a day may pass without seeing or finding and edible food source. Silhouette, size, and colour should hold precedence over exact imitations. Variables that I find to be directly applicable to most fishing situations, especially when fishing the wet-fly.
Gold serves well as a colour in nearly all peat based waters, be they flowing or still. As such, patterns like the dunkeld or golden olive bumble are two not to be overlooked. In addition, much of the food on offer to the trout is of a solemn hue. With this in mind, and since it gives the greatest silhouette, black should indefinitely be incorporated onto the cast. Classical patterns such as the black pennel, zulu, bibio or a black dabbler would be foolish to omit.
As with all un-stocked waters, the fish are a natural resource, sustainable only by prudence and a careful hand. Fish may be taken from the waters; however, I would implore the use of a respectful mind – as nowadays a mental or digital image should suffice as a trophy. Either way, take sparingly.
A place to seek refuge from the nagging ‘other-half’? Respite from a hard week at work? Or, just fancy a change from hauling out sea-trout from the river? Teifi Lakes, In my opinion, has it all.
Steffan runs Angling-Worldwide, a company that specialises in sea-trout fishing packages, courses, and guiding in Wales, with a history of doing so stemming back for over a decade. For further information contact:
Phone: 07879 898 344
Mail: Angling-Worldwide, Crosslane, Dolgran, Pencader, Carmarthenshire, SA39 9BY