Welsh international angler Kieron Jenkins visits Cwm Hedd Lakes, where he finds some quality resident fish right under his feet…
Flies For Cwm Hedd
Fulling Mill Bung and Weighted Blob
Sometimes when you say “small-water fishing” many anglers automatically assume a puddle filled with recently stocked trout and an armada of local anglers taking up the best spots to catch their limit quickly. However, small waters have a lot more than this to offer, in particular the challenge of catching wise old resident fish that have seen it all.
Cwm Hedd Lakes in South Wales is one water where there are plenty of such trout, and I set out in search out some of the resident feeding fish that this water has to offer.
Cwm Hedd has a growing reputation and is quickly becoming one of the best small-water fisheries in Wales. It’s a seven-acre spring-fed fishery nestled on the outskirts of Newport, which lends itself to the experienced angler looking to tempt some of the educated residents, as well as the novice angler after some fun on the stocked fish.
After a long, dry summer and high water temperatures, many small waters tend to go off and the fish sulk into the deeper areas of the lake. But after lengthy cool spells throughout the winter the water cools and the fish become more active as spring arrives. The fish now move into the shallow water to feed on buzzers, damsels, corixa and shrimps, as well as the abundance of roach fry at this venue.
Matt and young Callum Russell (a father and son team!) and I turn up to find an almost flat-calm lake with half-a-dozen anglers dotted on the inside bank near the lodge, so we decided to tackle up in front of the lodge to discuss tactics. I set up a floating line, a 5ft floating Poly Leader and a length of 6lb fluorocarbon with two size 12 Crunchers and a brown Wrapped Minkie pattern on the point.
The floating line is ideal for fishing the shallow water, ensuring the fly stays above the bottom and maximising your fishing time. I wandered across to the far side of the lake, known as the Wading Area, to try my luck.
As I walk past the first three platforms, I spook two fish that were extremely close in. I stop and let the water settle, and begin to peel a few yards of line from the reel. Many anglers tend to forget that trout do actually feed close to the bank and whack a line out into the horizon, spooking anything that may have been in close.
Matt Russell selects the flies for tempting the resident fish at Cwm Hedd
I roll cast the line from the ground and once I have a short line out I retrieve quickly, trying to force water through the Minkie so it falls through the water column faster. I instantly get a bow wave behind the fly with a fish following it right into the bank. Lifting off I drop the now wet Minkie back to the water and a feisty rainbow comes out of the margins and takes just a few inches below the surface. Sure enough, a resident fish of around 2lb comes into the net.
Avoid the temptation to cast a long line to start with - the better fish are likely to be the margins first.
I fish the area for another 20 minutes or so without a take, with sporadic fish rising just outside casting range playing hard to get. Much of the walkway around the lake is higher than the fishing platforms and with many of the fish at this end of the lake being in the water for quite some time they have become wary and easily spooked by wandering anglers.
I reel in and move off, making my way towards where Matt and Callum were fishing.
Fishing The Drop-Offs
Matt, who is just a few platforms ahead of me, is fishing close to the bank over a drop-off into around 10 feet of water. Both stocked and resident trout like to patrol structures. Fishing close to the margins, weed beds and drop-offs can produce some exciting sport.
As I get nearer he strikes, unfortunately missing the take and we settle down for a chat. Before I could even put my kit down he strikes again, this time hooking the fish and swiftly bringing it to the net.
Young Callum Russell with a beautiful resident brown from the margins.
He’s fishing a Sunburst Blob under an indicator at around five feet in depth. He tells me that he started at about eight feet, but after missing two takes pretty early on as the Blob was falling through the water he shortened his tippet to around half the length and was quickly rewarded with a fighting-fit rainbow.
We sit and talk and within 10 minutes he nets another two fish, again taking once the Blob settled at the 5ft mark.
Try The Difficult Pegs
With Matt explaining that the fish were deeper over this side of the lake and the conditions still almost flat calm, I too set up the bung, fishing an orange Squirmy Worm at five feet. Earlier in the morning, we saw fish getting caught from the point of the island, so I decided to head to the far side of it when the anglers have moved off.
I settle on a peg that is quite difficult to fish; the trees are close to the right and quite thick behind, making for a hard back cast – the ideal place for fish to hold up when they’re getting pressured.
Flicking the fly from the rod and roll casting just 10 or so feet out, the bung hardly has time to settle before it goes skating across the surface!
A beautiful, fully finned rainbow that looks to have been in the lake quite some time is soon in my net. A couple of casts later the bung dips; I pause and wait, then it disappears, this time right along the tree line, and another old fish gracefully slips into the net.
As I slip the fish back into the water, Matt appears as his sport has dried up. I allow him to jump onto the platform while I sort out a tangle and describe how difficult it is to cast with the surrounding obstacles, as he expertly puts the fly into the tree behind!
Quickly rectifying himself he lands his fly in the prime position, not too far from where I’d caught the previous fish. It isn’t long before he too is rewarded with a resident of his own, a beautiful fully finned rainbow around 17 inches in length! It goes to show that persevering in an area that is ‘hard’ and adapting to the situation can pay off.
A Personal Best
As the morning grows old the grey cloud disappears, leaving a beautiful sunny day. The temperature has risen slightly and a few fish are starting to rise, so Callum and I venture back to the Wading Area hoping for some action.
We tread gently and move slowly close to the reed bed and spot a good brown trout right in close to the bank. Callum is itching to cast but I persuade him to sit and wait, to watch its movements. Not a lot happens, the fish glided about close in unaware of our presence, so Callum decides to cast, dropping a weighted Sunburst Blob about three feet away from where the fish has settled.
He twitches the rod, making the fly lift from the bottom, and this grabs the fish’s attention. It darts over and engulfs the fly literally under the rod tip – Callum strikes and the fish is on!
Keeping the tension, he holds the fish hard and expertly nets it by himself. For a 12-year-old, he can fish! The fish is quickly photographed and released, a brown of near-enough 4lb in weight and a personal best for Callum!
The fishing at Cwm Hedd has been incredible over the last few months, with rainbows and browns between 4lb and 7lb regularly getting caught over the winter, including a beautiful grown-on fish of 6lb 5oz for me. So, now’s the time to get out on those small waters and target the resident fish that lurk in the margins.
Kieron’s Bung Setup
I know many anglers don’t like fishing the bung, but it goes without saying that it’s probably one of the most effective methods on small waters – and reservoirs for that matter – especially when fishing buzzers.
For quite some time I’ve had trouble getting the bung ‘right’ on the leader, though. I have mainly been using Fish Pimp indicators, which slide onto the tippet, but after time they tend to slip and the silicone insert perishes with use.
During the past few months, I’ve been using a 5ft Airflo Polyleader with a tippet ring attached to the end and a dropper of three inches of 5lb copolymer and a Fulling Mill Foam Bung, with the tippet/fly tied directly to the ring too. The short dropper ensures you’re in direct contact when you get takes and the Polyleader makes for good turnover, even at distance.
Small waters are prone to pressure from anglers, which can often lead to the fish going off or becoming very finicky. I tend to fish as light as possible, usually 5lb or 6lb, depending on the rules of the fishery.
Cwm Hedd operates a strict barbless-only policy – due to being a catch and release water – with a minimum of 6lb tippet so as not to get broken off by the big fish that inhabit the lake.
Cwm Hedd Lakes
Croesheolydd Farm, Bassaleg, Newport, Gwent NP10 8RW
Telephone Number: 01283 703202
Foremark has continued with some fabulous early season sport, during the last week a further 1800 trout were caught!
On Monday intermediate lines with black fritz damsels and boobies were doing the business. Derby county anglers Mr A and Mr S Hayward took over 30 fish to their boat while on the bank Mr A Topping fished the bank in flamingo and landed 18 fish in a afternoon session. Tuesday the fish were well up for it with 37 rods taking 397 fish for a rod average of 10.7 Floating lines did well when fished with a long leader as season permit holder Mr B Burton found taking 27 from the bank. Mr N Bilsbrough also had a very good day (thank you for the nice comments in the return sheet). Wednesday Flamingo bay and the sailing club banks was in action again fritz black and green lures intermediate lines being the most successful method. I Buckley R Jeffrey, M Julian and G Tomkinson all caught over 20 fish each. Thursday a switch to buzzers or crunchers or even a muddler helped to put extra fish in the net. Friday Mr S Wilson, J Machin, P Fitch and J Wooffinden all fished the banks around Flamingo bay and reported some very good catches, on a variety of flys and methods. Another stunning day on the banks on Saturday with the sailing club and flamingo bay round to hut point fishing very well and the boats started to do well season permit holder Mr R Cotterill netted 14 trout and a upper double pike. Sunday followed the same pattern as the rest of the week
Saturday, Coppenhall fly Fishers held a bank match with 19 rods taking part, catching 202 fish for a match average of 10.6 top rod was Mr P Pomfret who weighed in his 4 fish limit for 11lbs 14oz he also took the best fish of the match a 3lbs14oz rainbow. He also released 20 others. He was closely followed by Mr G Moody with a weight of 10lbs 2oz for his 4 fish also released another 8 fish.
Sunday Derby Fly Fishers held a bank match with 16 rods catching a total of 171 fish for a match rod average of 10.6over all winner Mr C Wilkins with 26 fish second was Mr R Jeffrey with 22 fish Mr P Webb was next with 16 fish.
For more up to date information call the lodge on: 01283 703 202
Take a look at our latest pictures on our Facebook pagewww.facebook.com/FlyFishStore
Foremark has joined the Troutmasters competition, entry forms to be found next to the booking out sheet you will need a member of staff to countersign your entry, good luck
We are now offering fly only pike fishing. All pike fishing must be PRE- BOOKED you must also have a suitable unhooking mat, the correct size landing net, long Forceps, all flies must be attached to a wire trace. All fly’s to be 4 inch or longer in length. All pike to be returned.
Dates for your diary
Beginners courses 25th March, 16thApril, and 27th May 9.30 to 3.30 £65.00 call the lodge for details and to book your place.
Don’t forget to pick up your loyalty card from the lodge, once you have purchased 10 of the same permit, your next visit of that permit option is FREE valid at all three fisheries, Thornton-Foremark-Draycote
Number Rods: 237 Number Trout Taken: 411 Number Trout Released: 1411
Total Catch: 1,822 Weekly Rod Average: 7.6
Current Fishing Time:
Bank: 07:30am till 17.45
Boat All Day: 08:30 to 17.45
Morning Boats: 08:30 until 13:00
Afternoon Boats: 13.00 until 17.45
Last 4 Hours from: 13.30 until 17.45 (Tickets on sale from 13.30)
All anglers to be off site by: 18.15
Lake of Menteith
Pre-season Report 14/3/16
6ft Water Temperature 4.5 C, Clarity (Secchi disc) 3.1m
The Lake opens on the 18th March for our 51st fishing season. Hopefully, things will calm down as usual for opening day but we are due a cold and wild one after so many very pleasant open days in recent years – but fingers crossed. Gateside Bay will be open for a few weeks until stock arrives in the fish pens, sometime in April. This will allow for a bit more shelter. We stocked today with 1200 fish of average weight ~ 2lbs.
Some angling statistics from 2016: The two-man average boat catch was 5.9fish for 13.9lbs, marginally up on 2015’s 5.4 fish for 13.5lbs. The amount of fish released was 63% (60% in 2015). One of the most thought-provoking statistics from last year was the percent of fish recorded killed. 13946 fish or 45% of fish stocked were recorded as weighed in and killed. This is a big reduction on the old figure before catch and release which was usually around 70%. We think increased losses to predators accounts for much of this discrepancy but there will be an element of losses as a result of catch and release and we know that catch records are not as accurate as they used to be. It is something we should understand better. Please help by accurately recording fish caught and released, and fish killed.
We had a fairly steady trickle of fly fishing pike anglers during the close season as well as 4 days of pike lure and dead bait events with the PAAS and the PAC. Some nice trout and pike were landed and returned. Getting down to the fish (30ft) with bait, lure or fly was the trick.
Mixed weeks weather, sleety cold showers, rain but milder at the weekend. The rain on Wednesday did reduce the water clarity but thankfully not enough to put off the fish.
The trout remain close in on the banks giving bank anglers good sport, boat anglers at times just couldn’t get close enough in. Its noticeable as well that on certain days the trout had a preference to take flies fished in towards the bank, hence the reason bank anglers had a good week
The shallows opposite the lodge, wood, corner of the wood & lonesome pine continues to provide the best sport with bank anglers using floating & intermediate lines while boat anglers used intermediate & mid range 3 – 4 inch/sec sinkers.
Mick Hanson & Nev Welsh fished from a boat catching 10 trout each, Pete Cox on the same day fished bloodworm patterns from the bank and recorded 8 trout. Mike Oliver used a pheasant tail from the bank returning 15 trout with Phil Cross opting to fish from the bank using a cats whisker to catch 10 trout. B Burton continues to use his black & green patterns on a floating line from the bank recording 11 trout. S Smith caught 20 from a boat on bloodworm & cats whisker with Mark Hunt using dancer patterns from a boat recording 18 trout. Danny Lovegrove & Bob Middleton took themselves down the Markfield arm towards the turn raft catching their fish from this area on damsel patterns & cats whisker.
Tel: 01530 230807
If you're coming to fish from the bank be sure to bring wellingtons or waders
Overall average for the week was 3.4
Car Park, Lodge and bank fishing open 7.30am
Full Day Boats 8.30am – 5.30pm
Part Day Boats 8.30am – 1.00pm / 1.00pm – 5.30pm
All anglers off site by 5.45pm