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Spare a thought for the fish in iced-over lakes; angling: LET'S HOPE THEY ARE BETTER PREPARED THAN WE ARE.


IN THESE Arctic weather conditions there is a tendency for us to forget about the problems that the flora and fauna of our wonderful countryside face.

We worry and moan about our inability to move about freely in these conditions and talk endlessly about the unpleasantness cause by the snow and ice. We give little or no thought to the wild fauna to which the persistent and long lasting frost is a matter of life or death.

I was delighted to learn that the wonderful kingfisher combats the Arctic weather by moving downriver to the estuaries - and let's hope that they have already flown downriver and have found some shelter.

I also watched a nature programme where they showed a small brook in north-east England which was frozen solid. I believe it was a tributary of the River Tyne - the best salmon river in England and Wales - and I couldn't but wonder what had happened to the sewin and salmon in that important brook. Would the fish survive and would the precious spawn survive such conditions? I recall fishing a lake in British Columbia, Canada with the then fishery officer, Mr Chan, and asking him what effect the annual big freeze they suffered every winter had on the fish in the lakes. His answer surprised me somewhat as it seems there would be a complete kill in a few of the iced-over lakes but the majority would survive the hard winter and seemed almost unaffected. Let's hope that our lakes will be in the latter category this year.

A snow-bound, iced-over river or lake creates a beautiful scenic picture for camera lovers and on such occasions one recalls the sport enjoyed on that particular fishery in the balmy days of summer. I wonder how the wild fish of Teifi Pools fare in these Arctic conditions. The lakes are tucked away in the hills of Mid Wales but the temperatures there have plummeted to around 20 degrees of frost.

Last summer I fished Teifi pools in very different weather. Even in summer you can get the occasional cold blast of wind up in those hills and they can throw a four-season weather-change in a matter of an hour. It only needs the wind direction to change from south-east to north-east for one to don an extra layer of clothing.

One evening last July, I was sitting in my car on the banks of Llyn Egnant - one of the most productive lakes in the Teifi Pools' complex. I was looking for signs of fish activity. In the calm conditions the surface of the water was like a glass but after a half hour or so, I noticed a fish breaking the surface near the brook that runs into the lake. It had taken a buzzer.

I was out of the car in a flash. My tackle is always at the ready with a very small black dry fly on the point and two nymphs as droppers. I approached the bank quietly and stealthily and waited for a while hoping to see more fish activity. Approaching a rising fish along the bank requires a stealthy approach, avoiding all vibrations. I waited fifteen minutes and to my delight the fish rose again to take a fly. From my position I had been able to cast my fly to a point a yard or so in front of where the fish had been feeding. As the fly touched the water the fish came up to the surface and took it. Surprisingly, it was not the dry fly that had taken its fancy but one of the droppers. It had favoured a very popular one on all stillwater fisheries - the Diawl Bach.

It is surprising how the Diawl Bach has become so popular - but there is no doubt it is used more often than any other fly on our lakes. News travels fast - and once praise was lavished on the Diawl Bach for being a good catcher of fish its popularity rose. Every fly-box in the country has a Diawl Bach - it's always there on the water and hence it catches more fish than any other! The Diawl Bach first saw the light of day on the reservoirs that provide water for Bristol which include Blagdon and Chew. There is some doubt as to who conceived it but a Mr Evans from Cardiff and a Mr Izaac from Pembrokeshire were somehow involved.

The Llyn Egnant trout was in great condition and gave a good scrap but eventually after a display of aerial acrobatics it was landed and released very carefully by unhooking it and letting it swim gently away.

Within ten minutes another fish rose and away I went to the same spot and once again waited until I was sure that the fish which seemed to be on the fin would come within casting distance. The third cast was the one that scored and once again with the Diawl Bach. I released it and unlike the first it sped quickly away as if it was competing in a Formula One race. This exercise was repeated twice more and I was suddenly the proud captor of a quartet of excellent wild brown trout, which were all returned.

I only hope that they will be able to overcome this Siberian weather but I was told that fish like bees are likely to fare better in a very hard winter because when the winter is mild they are always on the move and therefore burning more energy looking for non existent food.

I only hope that the fish are better prepared than we are to combat the winter weather and that nature, which is generally so protective of its creatures, has some device to help the fish overcome the severe winters in this global warming era!


A mountain lake on a calm warmish evening in July with fish and flies galore. Last week the pool was frozen solid so spare a thought for how the aquatic environment and its inhabitants cater with the dramatic change
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:0ARCT
Date:Dec 7, 2010
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