Fishing Season Opening Weekend on Llyn Trawsfynyddjenn
Llyn Trawsfynydd Fishing
On March 12th I get a phone call: “Drakeford’s lifted restrictions on local outdoor activities, Traws will be open next weekend!”, it’s my good mate Llion Jones; a new angler who I’ve been teaching to Fly Fish for little over a year and someone who has quickly exceeded my addiction to the craft!
Llyn Trawsfynydd (‘Traws’ as many of us refer to it), is a 1,180 acre lake in Gwynedd, North Wales. Normally its banks would have welcomed trout and pike anglers from across the country at the beginning of March, however recent restrictions meant a later opening than usual, limited to local anglers only.
Day 1 - Catching Rainbow Trout & Brown Trout
Usually, a day out on Trawsfynydd would have started with a delicious full English breakfast at the site’s Cafe (Caffi Prysor), but this weekend began with a socially distant queue outside of the permit office, composed of anglers eagerly awaiting to purchase their season tickets and day permits. A word of appreciation to the Prysor Angling Association for their setup, with both Simon Davies and Malcolm Atherton ensuring there was no more than one angler in the office at one time and for preventing any congregating outside.
With season tickets purchased and armed with Malcolm’s advice, my Old Man, Llion, and I headed towards the South corner of the main dam for the first cast of the 2021 season.
Conditions were overcast but dry, with a moderate North Westerly wind. But being at the tail end of the wind we had flat calm water for the first 10 meters in front of us.
My setup; a fast intermediate line with 8lb leader, a tequila blob on the top dropper, and a black and gold humongous lure on the point spaced 12ft apart.
It didn’t take long to hook the first fish of the season with a Rainbow over the 2lb mark taking my humongous on the point. After making the most of the great fight, the first of the season was in the net.
Only a couple of casts later, the short and sharp retrieve followed with a slow long draw resulted in the line locking up again. After a not as strong of a fight as the first fish but a good scrap nonetheless, a 1 1/2lb Rainbow was landed, again to the Humongous on the point.
It didn’t take too long until Llion was into his first fish which was landed, followed by a second. With my Dad fishing around the corner from us we could hear he was into a fish also. A great start for us all!
That short spell of luck was short lived however! Takes to our lures had dried up quickly for both myself and Llion, and the fish began rising on the surface. We decided to change to floating lines and single dry flies, within a couple of casts a rogue gust of wind came out of nowhere and Llion had hooked something on his dry:
Ouch! It wasn’t barbless either!… Out came the pliers and without a flinch from Llion I managed to get the fly out of his ear without tearing off his ear lobe!
My old man appeared from around the corner with a gutted expression on his face to which he explained he had lost a ‘monster of a fish’ that had his rod bent over double for a few minutes before eventually breaking his leader and swimming off with his fly! It was time for some lunch and a move to a new spot.
A change of scenery
Malcolm had told us that it was worth a go at Cae Adda, a long bank on the South Western shore with an old boathouse halfway down the bank.
This bank was more exposed to the wind, and with no visible fish rising we were all back on the intermediate lines and Humongous, with Llion sporting a secret variant, a Lime Eyed Humonungous!
Fishing to the right of the boathouse, Llion landed two Rainbow Trout in no time, whilst I was only having half-hearted offers! After a quiet 10 minutes, he decided to move further to the right, onto a point leading into the next bay.
Dad, having finished eating his packed-lunch, decided to fish the spot Llion had just left and over the next hour, he had landed 3 hard-fighting Rainbows.
We could see Llion fishing the point in the distance and seemingly into one fish after the other. I headed off to see how he was doing and he was having the time of his life! “I’ve landed 6 and lost a few here!”, he was in his element, armed with the Lime Eyed Humonngous and a honey hole of fish in front of him it was great to see someone new to the sport of Fly Fishing being rewarded for the hard work he had put in learning how to Fly Fish over the last year.
After spending 10 minutes watching him catch I decided to go further down the bank, towards the corner before “The Ruins”.
With the wind blowing into the shore and not much luck on my blob and Humongous setup, I decided to change to a fast sinking line, with two small boobies. A black boobie on the top dropper and a Go Faster UV Cat Boobie on the point, casting into the wind and allowing the line to sink the flies before retrieving back.
It was the change of area and method that I needed. Over the next hour, casting into the wind, I landed 7 Rainbows and one beautiful Brown Trout. Apart from a double-header of fish, all had taken the Go Faster UV Cat Boobie, including the Brown Trout.
With the takes drying up for us all we headed back to the car ecstatic with the day we had. And even better, Llion had ended up on 13 fish landed, a day he’ll be sure to remember!
Day 2 of Fishing at Llyn Trawsfynydd
Sunday morning, after an anticlimax from the France V Wales Rugby the previous night, I didn’t have much planned except for doing some work. But my Old Man and his season ticket were up for a second day’s fishing!
Arriving at Traws by Midday, greeted by bright sunlight and the same North Westerly wind (much much slower), we set off to fish where we had finished off the day before. Dad decided to fish off of the point where Llion had great success the day before, lo and behold there were some still there and hungry for his Silver Humongous!
Fishing down the bank of “The Ruins” I didn’t have any luck, but the huge hatch of buzzers was a welcomed taste of what’s to come next month.
These buzzers were far too small for what I had in my box, but a great reminder of what April on Llyn Trawsfynydd has to offer; the best buzzer hatches in Wales! Some might say that at times it’s comparable to the spring buzzer hatches that are experienced at Chew Valley. Whilst I’ve never fished Chew, I have witnessed and fished during the spring buzzer hatches at Traws, and they are incredible!
Having worked my way up and down the bank without a fish to the net, I headed back to see how Dad was doing and he had a better hour than I had, having landed a steady total of 4 Rainbows.
Agreeing it wasn’t as productive at this spot as the previous day, we decided to make a move. This time to the Southeastern bank, not far from Islwyn Bay.
Moving on to Islwyn Bay
Back on the lures, I set up a medium sink line with a single Gold Humongous on a 10ft leader, with Dad on the same but with the Silver version. We fished a spot he had chosen where there was a gentle wind blowing in towards us, which had us fishing a part of the bank mere meters from each other that had a decent drop-off / ledge.
First cast, no takes during the first half of the retrieve, however with the fly 6-8ft down and less than 3 meters from the bank, I felt a tap-tap and then the line went tight! The Rainbow of around 2lb fought like a steam train and before I was anywhere near to landing it my Dad was into one also!
For the next 30 minutes, we were having either offers or hooking a fish between us every other cast! Until it got to the point where we went 5 minutes without an offer between us.
Convinced there was still a good head of fish in the depths in front of us, now possibly weary of the two Humongous that had been swimming around for the past half hour, we decided to change our flies.
Dad stuck to his medium sink line but changed the fly to a black and green lure, whilst I swapped to a fast sinking line, shortened the leader to 9ft and swapped the fly to a size 10 Candy Floss Booby.
Sure enough, both of our changes worked and we were back into enjoying the hard fighting Trawsfynydd Rainbow Trouts. On the fast sinking line method and booby, it was a 20-second count after counting followed by a slow roly-poly retrieve, and almost certainly there would be a fish or a take half-way through the retrieve every few casts!
After landing 4 fish on the Candy Floss Booby, my line went tight after hanging the fly at the end of the retrieve. There was something heavy on the end of the line which wasn’t the lakebed, it was moving! But not fighting like steam trains as all the previous fish had done, this one was heavy and wasn’t budged easily!
After a few minutes of trying to lift the fish to the surface to see what it was, we finally saw the crocodile-like-head break the surface of the water. It was a Pike! Asking for some help from my Dad to net the fish we eventually managed to fit enough of its body in the net to retrieve the fly and take a quick picture before returning it safely!
Size 10 Candy Floss Booby, who says you need large lures to catch decent pike? 😀
“Well that’s us done then, there won’t be any trout here, not after that swimming around” was my Dad’s conclusion. But curiosity got the better of him and he cast out his black and green lure. Halfway through the retrieve and he was into a Rainbow Trout once again! For the next 10 minutes, we continued to enjoy the brilliant sport the Rainbows were putting up, undeterred by the Pike that was around until we noticed the sun was getting low and we had no idea what time it was! So we decided to bring the great day to an end and head back to the car, hoping we hadn’t been locked in. (Sorry for keeping you waiting Malcolm!).
So that was the start of our 2021 season and a great first taste of what Llyn Trawsfynydd has to offer this year with the Spring Buzzers around the corner, followed by incredible evening sedge hatches that see the trout crashing through the surface across the lake.
Credit to Malcolm and the Prysor Angling Association, those fish fought as hard as any other I have caught and many other anglers said the same! A brilliant weekend, with Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, and Pike, it was a fishing triple crown, but just like Wales on the weekend the perch were elusive to make it a grand slam!
Although it still isn’t clear when anglers will be allowed to visit Traws from outside of Wales, it does look like anglers from across Wales might be allowed to visit by the end of the month. for more information on fishing visit Llyn Trawsfynydd.