Fishing in the Black Mountains

There is an absolute plethora of coarse and game fishing in Wales. Fishing in the Brecon Beacons has to be some of the best in the country with mighty rivers and their tributaries both flowing through its borders including of course the mighty River Usk, the Taff and the Towy, as well as some of the finest reservoirs around; for the game and the coarse angler a like. With premier waters like Llangorse Lake for big pike or the 240 acre Usk ressie for big wild brownies to the tiny secret streams tickling down through the peaks it can truly be regarded as one of the top areas of the country for fishing.


I’ve had one of these beautiful wild reservoirs set firmly in my sights for a few months now. Its the beautiful Grwyne Fawr Reservoir set in the harsh landscapes of the Black Mountains. Click below for a brief history of the dam itself and some beautiful vintage photos for sale from Andrew Dally.

Gwryne Fawr Dam History


The reservoir itself is extremely secluded, with more than an hours walk from the nearest road, the visiting fly fisherman will have little more than his thoughts and the odd fish for company (or in my case a pregnant girlfriend). As you would expect this is a wild brown trout water untouched, certainly not supplemented with immigrant rainbow trout. Unlike a few high altitude reservoirs I’ve frequented this water looks as though it really lends itself to supporting a healthy population of fish, with vegetation lined banks full of trout goodies. Surprisingly for a high lake wind exposed lake there was plenty of fly life around with clouds of little black midges coming off the water.


I didn’t really fancy my chances on the typical lures and boobies that I chuck around so I decided to stick to the subtle side of the fly box. I had a few casts about with the pheasant tail nymph job above but I didn’t really feel confident in the fly selection because of the clarity of the water I really wanted to go for something subtle that would imitate a terrestrial blown into the water. I selected a green spider kindly tied and sent in to me by Stephen Blood. Infinitely better presented and successful fly fisherman’s blog here.

Stephen Bloods Spider

As the first fly touched down on the surface I reached into my pocket to have a little toot on my e cigarette and I felt a not so gentle tug on my arm. Lifting into the fish, I felt the always reassuring pull back. I was employing my trusty ol’ Airflo 10 foot #7/#8 weight rod this dulled the fishes ferocious fight; a #4 weight would have been a far finer battle. After a gallant fight against such stout tackle, the fish succumbed. My far more attractive than usual ghillie (sorry Jamjam) slipped the net purposefully under, perhaps, the prettiest trout I have ever seen. My first wild brown trout caught on the fly. A fish I had pursued for months was finally enveloped within the folds of my net.


As the day turned to night us weary travellers made way to the nights humble accommodation, Gwryne Fawr Bothy, maintained by the Mountain bothy Association. Whilst certainly not the most luxurious accommodation I have ever stayed in certainly the most welcome after hiking up into the mountains. Best of all trout was on the menu.


A day on the egg fly – Arnfield Fly Fishery

To my mind nothing beats a day on a boat. Waves gently slapping against the bow, rain gently drizzling on your face, hale stones pinging off your glasses. Hands frozen to the gunnel’s. Port starboards and silly words. Drowning a constant threat due to poor weather and ineptitude. Yup nothing beats a day on the water.

jack arnfield

This day on the water was particularly memorable; fish made an appearance as well. These days a some what rare occurrence. It was a cold hungover Sunday at Arnfield Fly Fishery. Situated near Glossop the gateway to the Peak District, from the West. It’s a particularly good fishery, with particularly helpful owners and a cracking shop with pasty’s and teas.


The Roe Bug –

The egg fly would be the weapon of choice on this day, fished on a simple dry fly set up, through a 7-8 weight rod. The egg is fished static or near to it. Fished from a boat it is a beautiful method to drift around a reservoir; feet up perfection.


Takes on the day were brutal and favourably regular. Few bites were missed, and many fish were landed. The final tally for the days sport ended with an 8 fish haul for Jamie and an altogether more humble 4 fish for me. The fish were plump for winter and full of fight, it was a truly cracking day to be out chucking the fluff.

jamie pb

Jamie took a fish of around 5lb. A new PB set with a truly monster sized trout. I myself took a beautiful fish, of around 3lb. It put up a spirited, wrist straining fight. Luckily, throughout my teens, my wrist was subjected to a long, brutal training regime and proved more than a capable opponent for this fish.

3lb Rainbow Trout

3lb Rainbow Trout

Exceptional sport and a coming of age to end Jamie and mines first season in the gentleman’s club.


This article was originally going to be titled Egg Flied Wice (frankly a brilliant bit of wordplay) but as one of the patrons of this fishery is of the Asian persuasion, I have decided to moderate myself. In a bid to be PC and also to be allowed back to this great fishery. And they say I’m an offensive monster……

Short and Curleys Fly Fishery

This year has been a year of firsts for me, I’ve caught my first fish on a fly rod; a small perch. I also caught the first chub I’ve caught since I was a nipper. I’ve completed my first marathon. I’ve even managed to catch a few trout on the fly.

I’ve not had my first barbel but not through lack of trying! The local river Tame, which meanders through the idyllic Greater Manchester Borough of Stockport. You may think my fruitless trips reflect upon the fact there aren’t any actually any barbel in the river. BUT THERE ARE! I’VE SEEN THEM WITH MY OWN EYES! I saw one cruise out from under a tree. I’ve set up numerous traps for this fish but I have the feeling its a very smart kipper. I’ve actually been on 6 ill fated trips to this stretch to date I’ve caught two small chub. At one point this fish turned into an obsession. It was my Moby Dick. I stalked that little bastard through rain, hail and cold….. still I could not catch her.

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Not since the Yorkshire Ripper has a man spent such large amount of time creeping around northern bushes in the dark. Any way I had to put that project on the back burner once I had startled a few too many Stockport residents stumbling out of bushes, drunk as fuck with my rod clasped firmly in both hands!

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So with perhaps the most unnecessary and unrelated intro ever seen in the glitzy world of fish blogging here’s a little story about my maiden voyage at Curley’s Fly Fishery in fly fishing mecca ……. Bolton.

Curley’s is a small but surprisingly picturesque reservoir perched amongst the hills of the West Pennine Moors. Don’t get me wrong I usually prefer my fishing to be wilder than Bear Grylls underpants but these days I’m slowing down, I’m losing my edge…. the fire. What I’m trying to say (in a round about way) is that there is a cafe at Curley’s. They have burgers, its brilliant because I’m a fat little piggy.

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The fishery is a great place to spend a day and it was relatively quiet until the last hour or so when a few other anglers turned up. I think there are a few pros and cons to the fishery but I would definitely return. I am still in two minds about the numerous pontoons, they look abit ugly and they give you sea sickness if you’re hungover (which is a state I live in perpetually). On the plus side they do make it a lot easier to cast especially if there’s a tricky wind and they make a cracking feature to drift a fly past.

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Imagine my shame of using a coarse fishing net for such a fine game fish

Ladybower Troutfishing

Once made famous by the Avro Lancaster’s of 617 Squadron of the RAF, perhaps better known as the Dambusters. Ladybower is a huge reservoir nestled amongst the vast moorland hills that constitute the Peak District.

Now made famous by the northerncoarseangler.


And this monstrous perch, caught on the fly. My first ever fly caught fish from one of the most beautiful places in the country.



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