llyn Dywarchen fly fishing north wales

Welsh Trout Lakes Welcome Anglers in March!

March heralds the beginning of a new season, where trout fishing enthusiasts eagerly await the opening of our natural lakes and stocked reservoirs, many of which have been closed for angling over the winter.

In this blog, we take a tour of some of the Welsh venues opening for fishing in March, along with tips and tactical advice for catching trout early in the season.

llyn clywedog fishery

LLYN CLYWEDOG: Nestled amidst the rolling hills of Mid Wales, Llyn Clywedog stands as a beacon for anglers seeking pristine waters with abundant trout. Opening on 7th March, with its stunning vistas and ample fishing opportunities, the fishing should be hot from the boats or on the bank.

Clywedog will be stocked with nearly 40,000 trout this season, offering anglers a chance to connect with hard fighting fish, some of which run to double figures in weight. At Clywedog, you can expect to catch rainbows of course, along with brown trout, tiger trout, spartics and even the odd golden trout, a real mix of species.

In recent years, the facilities for anglers have been upgraded significantly at Clywedog, with a modern, purpose built lodge providing an inviting environment, which also includes a fishing tackle shop, toilets and hot drinks.

All things considered, It’s little wonder that this crown jewel of a Welsh trout fishery is classed as one of the best run in the UK, with a slew of high profile competitions scheduled at the venue for the coming season. To book boats for 2024, call 01686 412890

LLYN BRENIG: Situated in the heart of the Denbighshire countryside, surrounded by views of moorland and pine forest, Llyn Brenig Reservoir beckons anglers with its expansive waters and legendary top of the water trout fishing.

Although open in winter for limited bank angling, it is in March that the reservoir is stocked and the ‘season’ officially begins, opening on the 16th March this year.

Once open, the Brenig will be alive with activity, as anglers cast their lines from the shore, or afloat, in search of overwintered rainbow trout, freshly stocked rainbows, blues and brown trout, which are introduced in good numbers. Indeed, the fishery plans to introduce 5,000 rainbow trout between 3lb and 6lb before the opening day and will subsequently stock with 1,000 fish per week until the end of September.

With its fleet of well maintained boats and picturesque surroundings, Brenig offers a captivating escape for those drawn to the allure of fishing in a wilderness location, but with easy access. Brenig also has an excellent Cafe for a fried breakfast, with a small fishing tackle shop on site.

llyn brenig reservoir

YR ERYRI: The natural lakes of North Wales. The rugged landscapes of Yr Eryri / Snowdonia National Park are home to a myriad of natural lakes, or ‘llynnoedd’, each possessing its own unique charm and angling appeal. Most hold wild brown trout, while others are stocked with rainbows to add to the excitement.

A few of these lakes open as early as March 3rd, but the bulk of them open on March the 20th, a date keenly marked in the local fishing calendar.

Local angling clubs offer easy access to literally dozens of lakes, on a season or day permit basis. These include Cambrian Angling, Seiont Gwyrfai and Llyfni Fishing Society, Ogwen Valley Angling Association and Artro and Talsarnau Fishing Association, who all have many excellent hill lakes, with day tickets available for booking through the Fishing Passport. These are wilderness venues, so facilities will be limited, however that is often part of the appeal.

With so much choice, it is hard to narrow down exactly where to start, but if you had to consider easy access, combined with the presence of stocked rainbows and browns, then Llyn y Dywarchen should be on your list, along with Llyn Morwynion and Llyn Ogwen. For the wild trout adventurer, then Llyn Conglog and the Gamallt lakes would be well worth the walk, these can fish well early on, despite the high altitude.

Below: Llyn y Dywarchen, Rhydd Du. Opens on April 1st for trout fishing.

llyn Dywarchen fly fishing north wales

LAKE VYRNWY: One of the first ever reservoir fisheries in Wales, the celebrated Lake Vyrnwy in Powys is world renowned for its picturesque setting and excellent fly fishing, having been open to anglers from 1890.

The lake is well known for it’s wild brown trout fishing, which takes place from a well maintained fleet of boats using traditional loch style methods, rather than on the bank. Electric engines are supplied as part of the day ticket cost.

The fishing on Vyrnwy starts on March 20th. Bookings and overnight stays at the famous Llyn Vyrnwy hotel can be made through the website, or on 01691 870 692.

ABERYSTWYTH: Along the picturesque coastline of Cardigan Bay lies the enchanting town of Aberystwyth, surrounded by a landscape of rolling hills and serene lakes, many of which were created in the lead mining boom of the late 1800’s.

Here, anglers can explore the tranquil waters of The Aberystwyth Angling Association, where the opening day of March 20th brings the promise of exciting fishing on their 10 lakes, which hold wild and stocked brown trout, plus quality rainbows and blues in Llyn Frongoch.

llyn frongoch

For early season fishing, Frongoch (above) is probably the pick of the bunch, with roadside access and good sized rainbows, which grow on in the food rich water. Wild brown trout can also be found here. Rhosrydd is another early season gem, its shallow waters warm up quickly in the spring sunshine. Here expect sizable brown trout, fish from 2lb to 3lb are commonplace.

For the wilderness fan, Llyn Syfydryn (below) is off the beaten track, it is full of eager free rising wild browns to 1lb in weight, yet it has easy access and parking along a well maintained track. The trophy hunter must try the Mysterious Llyn y Oerfa, home to exceptionally large brown trout. with the club record at 9lb 8oz. Early season is a good time here, when the bigger fish are still hungry from the slim pickings of winter. All of these lake have the added convenience of being bookable on the Fishing Passport.

Another club offering access to several stunning stillwaters in the Aberystwyth area is Tal-y-bont Angling Association. These lakes are about 8 miles up a spectacular mountain road accessed from the village of Talybont north of Aberystwyth. They are situated, as the crow flies, just a short distance from the peak of Pumlumon mountain itself.

This complex of four small mountain lakes provides brown trout fly fishing, and is also stocked by the club with rainbows to supplement the native fish. Llyn Conach is probably the best lake to try for quality fish, with Llyn Penrhaeadr providing fast and furious action. The fishing is available to visiting anglers, with day and season tickets available through the club website and via local vendors for the 2024 season.

THE ELAN VALLEY: Nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes of Mid Wales, the Elan Valley Reservoirs offer anglers a captivating fly fishing experience from opening day on March 20th.

All of the lakes hold wild brown trout in good numbers, which are often found in the marginal areas and bays of these expansive reservoirs. Most of the dams can produce good action early season, with Craig Coch (below) probably being the best bet, with its shallower arms that draw in feeding trout. It also has easier access to much of the banking, when the water levels are high.

Claerwen reservoir is another early season gem in the area. Despite being high up on the moors this 900 acre reservoir is always quick to switch on in spring, especially at the top end and in the roadside bays.

Fishing tickets for all of the Elan waters are controlled through Rhayader and Elan Valley Angling Association and are available through local outlets in Rhayader, such as Hafod Hardware.

fly fishing elan valley


BRECON BEACONS: The distinctive rounded peaks of the Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park are home to a series of picturesque reservoirs, each offering anglers a unique fishing experience against the backdrop of South Wales’ highest mountains.

From the tranquil waters of Llwyn-on and the Usk Reservoir, which hold stocked rainbows and browns, and are available to fish by any method, to the expansive beauty of Talybont Reservoir, one of the finest wild trout fly fisheries in Wales, Mid-March signals the beginning of the fishing season in the area.

Venues to try include the aforementioned Talybont (pictured below). The Beacons Reservoir, on the Osprey Fly Fishers club and the Passport scheme, and Cantref reservoir, which is controlled by Merthyr Tydfil Angling Alliance. All of these have excellent road-side parking.

Ystradfellte Reservoir is another hidden gem, located to the west of Cwm Taff. This is controlled by Mountain Ash Fly Fishing Association and offers wild brown trout in a remote valley with good vehicle access. The season on all four of these begins on March 20th, while on the Usk and Llwyn-on reservoirs, due to the presence of rainbows, it is slightly early, on March 16th.

talybont reservoir

Early Season Tactics & Tackle

Years ago, March would have been considered a cold, bleak and fruitless month for lake fishing, with only the hardiest anglers heading out. However, with modern tactics and thanks to our generally mild, wet winters, March and early April can often be some of the most productive times for trout fishing on the Welsh stillwaters.

Tackle

For most situations on boat or bank, a rod of either 9’6 or 10 foot, rated no. #6 or #7 would be best suited for early season fly fishing, with the 7 weight being the preferred choice for windy conditions and for the use of sinking fly lines with larger flies.

Fly lines in your tackle bag should include a floater, fast intermediate and a sinker, in either a Di3 or Di5. If fishing on the bank waders will be very useful, and on the boat a drogue is a must bring, to slow the drift right down.


Top fly fishing tips for early season

Don’t ignore the margins; you might think that in the chilly waters of early spring the fish will be out in the deeps, sulking on the bottom. This isn’t always the case, the shallower lake margins will warm up quickly, encouraging insect life to hatch, with fish not far behind. And with higher water levels, food sources will be concentrated closer in, so focus your fishing on the sides rather than far out.

Bed the flies down; while the fish may not be in dozens of feet of water, it doesn’t mean they will be freely rising up in the water column quite yet. Bedding the flies down several feet can make a big difference, so use a fast intermediate fly line, or if using a floater, then add a sinking / intermediate polyleader and use a weighted point fly.

Put on a lure; fishing a lure is one of the best early season tactics, spring trout are usually inclined to aggressively hit a lure, especially in cold water. This applies to wild brown trout as well as rainbows. A low and slow retrieve usually works best, with the odd quicker pull. Dark lures with marabou tails work well on Welsh lakes, for example humongous, black Woolly bugger, hot head damsel, marabou montana, Ally McCoist, hot head black tadpole, black zonkers, viva nomad. On the larger reservoirs, pulling lures on a Di3 or Di5 sinking line can very very successful when drifting from a boat.


Cover the water; the fish can be very localised early season, so it pays to move around until you find them, this is especially the case with brown trout. ‘Step and cast’ as they say!

Don’t forget smaller flies; fishing with buzzers and nymphs such as Diawl Bach’s can be very effective in early spring, especially when fished on a very slow retrieve on a floating line / sink tip. Nymphs and buzzers can also be fished very effectively under a ‘bung’ (strike indicator) even on a drifting boat.

Local advice; finally, don’t be afraid to ask! Fishery owners and angling clubs are full of useful information and they are there to help you catch fish. So if in doubt ask in the lodge, pick up the phone or send them a Facebook message or email for guidance on where to start. They can also advise on which flies are doing the business.

From the rugged beauty of North Wales, to the serene hills of Ceredigion and the dramatic valleys of the Brecon Beacons, Wales offers a wealth of opportunities for those seeking to discover first rate stillwater trout fishing, amidst some of the best scenery in the UK. We hope to see you on the bank soon!

Don’t forget your licence

For those looking to enjoy and explore Welsh lakes, please be aware that in addition to your day ticket or season permit, you will need a valid EA or NRW Freshwater fishing rod licence, which you can easily purchase or renew online.

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