Over 750 miles of coastline. Countless miles of lakes and rivers, ponds and inland waterways. That’s a lot of miles. As the late, great fishing writer Clive Gammon once said, ‘For a small country, Wales has a great deal of water’. And, he might have added, it offers a great deal to fishing enthusiasts of all kinds.
Rugby legend and fishing addict Gareth Edwards also has something to say on the subject. ‘I would need an entire book to do justice to the superb fishing available here. Wales and fishing are synonymous, hardly surprising when you consider its multitude of rivers and lakes. There are rivers and streams where you can catch native brown trout, salmon and sea trout (the latter known locally as sewin).’
Gareth was talking about his particular piscatorial passion – game fishing. Wales is equally attractive to salty sea fishing fans.
That 750-mile coastline is constantly changing, from big beaches to rocky headlands, estuaries to coves. Storm beaches (and surfing hot spots) like Llangennith in the south and Porth Neigwl at the tip of the Llŷn Peninsula in the north (Hell’s Mouth, its English name, does its character more justice) are prized for their bass and mullet. Rock fishing for pollack and wrasse is spectacularly good along other parts of Llŷn, Pembrokeshire and the Gower Peninsula. Sandy estuaries everywhere – there are lots of them – yield bass and flatfish.
Things sometimes get even more exciting way out offshore in Wales’s deepwaters. Jump on a charter boat for the chance of catching blue shark and porbeagle in South-west Wales, tope and rays in Cardigan Bay and further north.
Back on dry land, riverbanks everywhere offer classic game fishing. Wales’s reputation for sewin is unrivalled. More than half the sea trout caught in England and Wales comes from Welsh rivers. The River Tywi, whose headwaters begin in the wild Cambrian Mountains, then flow through a lovely vale for 70 miles to the sea at Carmarthen Bay, is arguably the best sea trout river in Britain – at least that’s what Gareth Edwards thinks.
Gareth’s two other favourites are the Dee and Wye. Both offer superb salmon and trout fishing (the Wye’s best-known angling accolade is its annual salmon run).
Lakes like Talyllyn in Mid Wales are meccas for brown trout enthusiasts. Talyllyn is also the southernmost lake in Britain to have runs of wild salmon and sea trout. And while coarse fishing doesn’t match up to sea and game in Wales, the country offers good sport for tench, pike, bream and perch that come out of ponds, inland waterways, reservoirs and lakes (and even from the moat at massive Caerphilly Castle – ‘carp at the king of the castle’, as someone commented – one of Europe’s finest surviving medieval fortresses).
Most Rare Hideaways make that ideal base for a fishing break. Many are located on or close to the banks of those classic game fishing rivers, or near harbours or bass beaches. Some go the extra mile and have private fishing available to guests – we’re thinking of places like Y Felin in the mountains of Cader Idris, and Bryn Melin near Bala which has 1½ miles of salmon and trout fishing on the River Dee.
Lots of Rare Hospitality members will be only too happy to advise on local fishing opportunities – just get in touch.