Fishing Elan Valley Reservoirs

Fishing Elan Valley Reservoirs 29th June 2022

You will all probably be aware I have been in a lockdown situation since Cov 19 hence no meetings or gathering for me, and will be for a few months more yet.

On my lonely fishing trips this year I have struggled with my balance, I put it down to old age and bones not so flexible as they once were, especially when wadding on Irfon bedrock, once or twice I have had a few heart stopping moments, with only my wadding stick saving me from a soaking.

So I decided to bank fish for a while like I do on the Scottish Lochs. So where do I find some lakes like the Lochs with the wild rugged scenery. I chose the Elan Valley Reservoirs. Having had some helpful tips from George Baron especially on the wind directions on the day determines where you start to fish, East or West bank.

From Cheltenham across country it was 91 miles to pick up my day ticket from Powell’s in Rhayader, from there I chose to go the old mountain road then drop down at Pont-ar-Elan, cross over the road over the cattle grid on to the East side of Craig Goch Reservoir and drive along a narrow lane, (old rally stage) to a small field entry, by the bridge and fish the bay inlet, a further 25 miles. I had given Tony Mitchell the map reference to meet me in the gateway. Now this is where with the best plans in the world it all goes pear-shape, big time, 1st, at Powell’s I am told the reservoir is undergoing repairs and is being drained, 2nd, while driving thinking what to do I miss the mountain road junction, 3rd, as I start to go round the old road to meet Tony, I find traffic lights and road closure everywhere, I gave Tony the map reference but he would not be able to get there. 4th, no phone signal. I choose to park up at the 1st dam Caban-Coch, have breakfast and see if Tony came this way. How I missed the junction I don’t know as I have been over it hundreds of times over the years in my rally days, and how much we rely on our mobile phones. All these reservoirs were so low on water you could not fish them safely the banks were moving shale or thick sinking mud.

After a couple of hours I went up to the last Elan reservoir and dam to be built, Claerwen and fished there, it sits on very high land, the biggest reservoir of them all in fact it holds as much water as the other three put together and was opened in 1965. The East coast of it has five long inlets and to walk it’s much further than the West as you have to walk round the narrow five bay sections. At this point the rain was relentless and coming in horizontal, there is a gravel level track all-round the reservoir, which is the width of a truck. I choose the West coast, much more level and a good walking route. This reservoir is approx. 6 miles long, at the end opposite the dam wall it narrows for about one and half miles to the river Claerldu where it enters the reservoir. Fishing here I am told is very good only it’s a 5 mile walk to get there or in a 4×4 but no turning places so along way to reverse if you meet another vehicle. My set up was 10ft rod, 10ft leader and 2 x 6inch droppers, something black on the point, a Pennell on the middle and a Kate Mc on the top. All on size14, Only 2 small trout for all my effort, next time here I shall be more prepared for this type of fishing, bigger hooks and flies with more colour.

I packed up after a coffee and drove home – a long day, as I was in the car at 4.10 am heading out.

Tony, who we never meet up, and after a poor day stayed overnight in his tent at a wild camping site, so full marks to him for that brave decision in the pouring rain, he fished on the next day at Lyn-Clewedog and had two wild brown trout. Then the rain got the better of him and he went home.

As a young boy I can remember my dad putting us all in the car one Sunday when we lived in Birmingham with my twin sister and we went to see the Dams as one was drained for repairs it was a one off. Once in a life time site to see the reservoir dams were empty it was probley approx. 67 years ago. I don’t remember much about it, but now seeing it at an older age you appreciate it more, it was all submerged for so long what a fantastic site, the depth, rock formation, walls, the village buildings, church towers, small bridges, cart tracks, etc. all in ruins and then at the end where it gets so narrow and drops into a deep gorge, breath-taking views, certainly a great engineering operation in its day. Construction started in 1893 and they were opened in 1905 I believe, and I didn’t take a single photo, that about sums up my day. The next time I will get my brain in gear, meet Tony at Powell’s and I reckon we will have a good day on the reservoir. If we are lucky we may even catch some fish, and take some photos!

The day ticket from Powel’s newsagent at £12.00 is great value, as long as there is some water in them!

Andrew Ayres

Member of WFD, C&GFD, Grayling Society and Ludlow FD.

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