Well now. It occurred to me, that the piecemeal rambling that was my very own website might be better organised chronologically. No reason, so...
JAA's Diary for...1961-74 / 1974-75 / 1975-79...2005 / 2006 / 2007 / 2008 / 2009 / 2010 / 2011 / 2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017
...welcome to the 1970's and some sepia tinted stuff what I can recall...it will meander. Oh yes.
Bl**dy time's an illusion anyway.
Most of the below was splurged into web pages in 2005 when I thought "I know, I'll start a fishing blog", with little thought to grammar, proof-reading or the use of more than one personal pronoun. It also amused me to have little pop-up pages all over the place, something I've grown out of. Mostly. This page then got a once-over in 2017, I added pictures and a map for fun.
Memory is a funny thing MAnd I studied it in some detail in 2016 and it really is. A funny thing that is. - I've often suspected that 'forgetting' is more of an 'addressingOK a teeny technical reference' problem than a 'memory' problem. It's all in there somewhere, one just has to know where to look. Putting the 1970's fishing bits down in b&wBlack and White. Obviously. Do you know that television pictures used to be only black-and-white? certainly involved poking about in the dusty corner of what psychologists are pleased to call 'episodic memory', the contents of which are laid out below in an unforgiving light.
Due to strange coincidences and 'things', I've added a lot more to this page since it was originally written and it's expanded so much I've even re-arranged my website...
|All tench are good tench...(and back to the top of the page)||There are no bad tench||All tench are good tench||There are no bad tench||Tinca tinca little star...|
1974-75. Valley ('Y Fali'), Anglesey. Which is still here:
So, in 1974-75 I lived near Caergeilliog ('Fort of the Cockerel'). I'd like to say this was a great posting. Luckily it was a short tour and the fishing was perfect, due to the bunch of lakes clustered around Valley airfield. There provided most of my formative fishing experience. This page is dedicated to those lakes, a small stream with trout and other fishes and Rhyd y Gari where I continued sea fishing.
I had, as previously mentioned, the 7' solid glass 'Marco' rod and an Intrepid Challenger. This was top gear.
|Seven foot (almost), blue, solid glass, 2½lb t/c, still got it. As well as the gazillion perch mentioned below, it has accounted for many pike including a 17lb fish caught through a hole in the ice, a very large wrasse, flounders, plaice, sea-trout, eels, bass and a couple of decent carp, ruffe, eels, bream, chub, roach, rudd...and a few gudgeon. It is due a complete overhaul (for 'funsies') and I may well do soemthing creative with carbon fibre for the ferrules. I know, 'I don't get out enough'.|
The rod got its major make-over in 2017The creation of the MKIII pool-cue....
|The Intrepid Challenger reel||The Intrepid Challenger reel|
I ordered, by post (remember that, in the 'old days'...), bale-arm springs and a bale-arm roller for repairs at some point. I managed for some time with a shortened bale-spring with a new 'tag' end bent on. The chrome-plated brass line-roller was fine, but once the chrome went the line cut through the brass like it was cheese. The spools are deep and with some care I wound thick 30lb mono (guessing, reclaimed from a beach-comb find and soaked the salt off), onto one of the spools, perfectly laid until the spool would hold a little over 100 yards of 3lb Perlon. I then tied off the 30lb, smeared it with araldite and when it had set, clipped the tag of the nylon flush with nail clippers and smeared another coat of araldite over ICI've always been annoyingly inventive. It's an engineer thing. 'On my deathbed, I will design a better deathbed.' . It did well until I got a Cardinal 40 in 1979.
I had three floats. A big porcy and a small one and a proper antenna float (as used in Ossiacher See). No idea where that went. At some point I bought a dumpy float to make a slider out off after reading Billy Lane's 'Float Fishing', prompted by the desire to tackle some deep water from a rock. Amazingly, I still have all three.
Christmas 1974 came and I then had two more fishing books - "Fishing with the Experts" with Mr Crabtree and "Fishing - An Illustrated Guide to the Art of Catching Fish", which was not the same sort of book but nevertheless I pored over its colour plates of sea, coarse and game fish, then made the pike lure from instructions on p.57. It worked, but never caught a fish. I've put it here in defiance of copyright as (a) it's seriously out of print and (b) no money changing hands here and (c) it's really rather good. Both of those books vanished without trace while I was 'reading' Physics & Electronics, but serendipitously, after recalling them on-line in 2009 or so, I found a copy of each in a Blandford Forum bookshop in successive weeks. What are the odds?
|'Fishing with the Experts'||'Fishing - An Illustrated Guide to the Art of Catching Fish'||'Fishing - An Illustrated Guide to the Art of Catching Fish'|
The lakes are (mostly) situated on a bit of moorland to the north-east of Valley airfield - this consisting of a mixture of bog, reeds, outcrops of grey rock, the occasional bit of grass you could walk on (if you were careful) and sheep. It was the really green bits of grass you had to watch out for. It was a little bleak and cutting across this ground on a misty day was a wet and occasionally spooky business.
Given the bloody island's history, it was easy to think of how the land must have looked two millennia ago. For me there is little romanticism associated with the Bronze and Iron ages, which were brutal and bloody. Life was hard, cheap and short. Far removed from the vision of 'Celtic Utopia' some folk peddle. Moving on...
|di·vid·er: (noun): a thing that keeps two spaces or areas separate (...and back to the top of the page)|
A short sub-menu to assist with steering.
|Valley Airfield from the north, Lynn Cerrig Bach in foreground. Annoying. The negative scan has the foreground in pin-sharp detail, but the view of Snowdonia in the background missing. The scan of the print has the foreground underexpsosed and the background rich with blue and purple. I've used the print, after an aborted attempt to merge the two.|
1974-75:'White House' Lake (Llyn Treflesg)
White House lake is to the west of Llyn Penrhyn and north of Llyn Cerrig Bach. I had no idea whether that was the proper name and always believed it to be named for the house on the high ground of 'The Point', which was (wait for it...) white. It was occupied then, although I never saw anyone. The lake is roughly "Y" shaped and one of the more interesting places I've ever fished. In 1974-75 there were four species of fish; perch, roach, rudd and eels. That was it. There were no trout (although some of the other lakes were rumoured to have a few).
|This is the titular 'White House' abandoned and derilict in 1992. By the time Tom (see further down the page) sent me some pictures it was gone completely.||An outline map of the lake, with my own place-names.|
The lake was christened Llyn Treflesg at creation, after the nearby farm not that I knew that at the time, see further down the pageInteresting stuff on the formation of the lakes. Treflesg means, as far as I can work out "Feeble (or weak) Farm". On an 1899 map the 'White House' is named 'Yr Ynys' or 'The Island', a good name for a rocky outcrop with a stream and marshes on both sides.
|'White House' Lake (Llyn Treflesg) in 1949, a few years after flooding, following the dredging of the silt for the runway extension.||The same spot on the 1887 survey. A headland with a stream and marsh on two sides. 'Yr Ynys'|
|White House Lake - 'The Point' taken from the east bank. Despite the best efforts of post processing, the two images used to produce this shot look like they were taken on different days - the negatives' scans were worse!|
The lake has high ground on the south side, sheltering it from the prevailing winds. The resulting wind-less smooth water gave the lee end an ethereal quality. When I revisited in 1992, lily pads were in the same places, the atmosphere was still off-beat and the 'White House' sadly derelict. A small tatty caravan slouched on the slope, as if dropped from a passing plane.
Generally we'd fish in two or three areas shown in the map above, which were determined by ease of access.
• 'The Point' gave companionable access to the water for two people. Facing north was a narrow channel of deeper water and with hindsight this was a main route between two of the larger areas of water in the lake. Certainly the rock that we perched on for fishing continued down into the water, giving the impression of a steeply cut channel. You could fish from the bank opposite 'The Point' and the western bank but the swims were water-logged and only really usable in high summer, but we did sometimes.
• 'The Beach' was a cow-drink on the west side, so the bank was trampled down. The wind, touching down in the lake center pushed brisk waves into this shore. This had rendered the debris into a small half-moon shaped beach.
• 'The Wall'. This stone structure was some yards further north of 'The Beach' on the same bank. I recall it to be 5-6' feet above the water and even then it seemed anomalous, more like a quay than a wall. You could fish here, good for rudd, the height lending distance to casts, but not so good a spot for landing them.
I fished 'The Point' thrice in the depths of winter, twice alone (my first fishing trip in the UK), just happy to be out with the rod and reel I was now allowed to use. I sat hunched against the cold, clinging-damp foggy days, with a tiny flask of hot tea and jam sandwiches. I watched the small quill, willing it to submerge - with absolutely no result, unsurprising given my complete inexperience. The third trip was with a school friend (Ronny), who caught a single 1lb perch with a spinner. This went into the sort of keepnet which is nigh-on illegal now and that was the whole catch. The keepnet had a hole so we never even got to gloat at the end of the day.
Later on, I fell in with in with another fisher-youth on the camp. I am not going to name names, but will tell you his reel had a "bale alarm" and a "latchet". Unlike mine which was equipped with the more usual 'bale arm' and 'ratchet'. He also felt strongly that a well known Tom & Jerry cartoon was actually called "Touch Pussy Cat". TPC"Touché Pussy Cat!" The next 'White House' trip was in Spring with the aforementioned fisher-youth (after the first trip to 'Trout Stream') . I recall catching a few perch in the 3-4oz bracket, simply float-fishing worms in mid-water (plumb the depth? Why would you do that then, eh?), on one side of 'The Point'.
With the 7ft blue-glass rod, the Intrepid Challenger and a porcupine quill float, we went fishing more-or-less every day after school, for the unending months of the spring and summer. Get home, dig worms, have tea, go fishing...repeat.
We nearly always went to 'White House'. During Spring this was because of the explosion in the perch population, the likes of which I have never experienced before or since. In an evening's fishing you could easily catch 80 1-2oz perch, all on worm. Sometimes on the same worm. Ludicrous, but a fun way to spend the evening and in keep-net days, quite a thing to lift the net at the end of an evening and see 150+ perch (both catches together). Extraordinary really. Ideal fishing for the 'hard of angling' certainly and in those days I was a fully paid-up member of that club.
Eventually even we would tire of this; so experiments to catch perch on anything else were carried out. We caught perch on:
Bare gold hooks. Orange and Black caterpillars cbmCinnabar caterpillars, of the Cinnabar moth - not that either of us knew that then. . Every sort of insect we could catch and put on a hook. Silver paper ('Kit-Kat'), wrapped onto the hook and jigged under the rod tip. Leaves threaded onto hooks to make simple lures, which were then pulled from side to side in front of you. Feathers tied on the hook as before. They all worked.
Eventually, after total perca ennui, I wrapped solder-wire around the base of the small porcupine quill, set 12" of shot-less line, put a small worm on, then roamed the banks looking for rising rudd and casting at them. MrC...because Mr. Crabtree said this was how one catches rudd. ('Fishing with the Experts' P.66). I 'liberated' the solder wire from father's toolbox. He had loads. The result was nearly always a rudd of a few oz's, golden, bright red fins and emerald green-tinted if viewed from above. Very occasionally this rudd would be over ½lb and those fish were worth 80 small perch. Glorious bright-scaled fish with no sign of being previously caught, special fish. I've had a soft spot for rudd ever since but seldom have seen such good fish (these days few lakes seem to have many). For some time I faniced my 'casting to a rise' mattered, but eventually realised casting anywhere worked.
On the rare occasions we got hold of maggots - by getting a fish-head, burying it in the garden for a week then sifting the soil for a few dozen - you could catch roach almost to order by fishing further from the bank and more-or-less on the bottom. Pound(ish) roach were not unusual, if I caught six roach in an evening I considered myself fortunate. Anyone could catch small perch, roach seemed classier to our inexperienced eyes. If you cast ten feet from 'The Beach' into three feet of water, prescient flashes of silver preceded the float's disapearance.
Summer evenings were without failure, it seemed as if the weather was always fair, calm and cool with the fish always biting. Idyllic.
• There be...my 'bale alarm' pal and I were worming on the east shore of 'White House',. It was slow fishing on a warm still evening - in the shadow of the 'right-angle rock' - so for something to do we tried 'fishing on the bottom'. Novel, I mean, that was for proper anglers.
My friend had a 9' glass-fibre rod with a softer action than my seven foot pool-cueNot quite as stiff as a pool cue...but it did have a t/c in the 2½lb range.. The first I knew that anything was 'on', was the 'latchet' clicking, a very bent rod and some exhortations. Nothing appeared to happen for a bit, but without any run, the water started to swirl and boil under the tight line, with its float flat against the knife-edge straight line. Seconds went by, the water seethed, the float not moving toward or away from the surface. There was a crack. And it was over. We watched speechless for a while, as calm returned to the water. Spines tingled. And then of course we speculated wildly. With hindsight, this was a large eel, who knows how big, but even a 4-5lb one would have proved too much for our tackle. But we never saw it...so it became monstrous in the telling.
|'White House' lake - western arm from 'the Point'||'White House' lake - looking south from the footbridge||'White House' lake - looking north from the footbridge|
• I recall a proper angler fishing on 'The Point' and he asked me to watch his float while he answered the call of nature. The float dipped and I picked up the impossibly long glass float rod which felt awkward, unwieldy, although I hooked the roach, the rod then removed from my hands with grunted thanks.
• There was a time...when I fished in the shadow of the dredger anchors' rock, then packed up to walk around the bank. With my still assembled rod, I cut a few lily pads in half, as boys do. The tip-section departed on the downward stroke, but by the slenderest of chances, impaled a pad to the third ring, then wavered. I hooked it out with the bottom section, quickly snagging the rings together to pull it near enough to grab. This whole diary, my fishing, pivoted around this moment when I so nearly lost my rod. It would certainly never have been replaced.
1974-75: 'Trout Stream' (Afon Crigyll)
The first place in the UK I caught fish was in 'Trout Stream'.
'Trout Stream' is actually the top end of an 'Afon Crigyll'There is more than one...the stream from Llyn Carnau to the sea for example. There's a whiff of the word 'creek' about 'Crigyll' and I wonder if it just means 'tiny river'. which crosses the road between Llanfihangel and Bryngwran, about half-way between the two places. I would say this is about four miles from where the Crigyll joins the sea at Rhosneigr. On an 1888 map it's named 'River Caradog', although on a slightly later map it was 'Afon Crigyll'.
It was a stream and it did have trout in it. So fair enough really.
|'Trout Stream' (Afon Crigyll) in 1992. The view from the hump-backed bridge, looking north.||'Trout Stream' (Afon Crigyll) in 2016. The view from the hump-backed bridge, looking north. My thanks to Tom Jones for taking and allowing me the use of the picture. Did my heart good.|
It was about six feet wide - the picture above shows the view north from the bridge. The stream ran under the lane from the north side and about 150 yards from the road had a right-angled turn to the east - this bend is obscured on this picture by the Angelsey Expressway, which was not there when I was.
For a fisherman this was the interesting bit. About fifteen feet from the bend, the stream ran through a stone-built culvert that was about two feet wide. This funnelling of water had caused a pool to be excavated, with some colour and depth of water (about two feet). Running off the north side was a large shallower area that was a combination of a small tributary with the sort of trampled area you get where cows regularly come to water, a 'cattledrink'. Downstream of this pool, no more than 8' x 5', the far bank of the stream was covered with bushes on higher ground, giving this small pool an enclosed air.
|This actual culvert, 150 yards from the bridge. My thanks to Tom Jones for taking and allowing me the use of the picture. 'Trout Stream' (Afon Crigyll) in 1992.||'Trout Stream' tackle...|
Being only my fourth fishing trip in the UK, I knew nothing about fishing 0Some might say I still don't. I'm inclined to agree. , but my companion said all I needed was a small shot, a hook and a worm. You cast (or 'drop') in the bait and wait. I tried with no success for ages (well, five minutes) and hit upon the idea of dropping the bait into the culvert. As soon as the bait cleared the culvert - a bite - and plucked out of the rushing water was a sea trout, no more that 8oz - my first rod-caught fish! I say 'plucked', the fish belted downstream until the combination of a fixed line and momentum caused it to leave the water as a self-propelled pendulum, which then swung in my direction. I have a clear memory of the mauve/silver base colour with the bright spots on the flanks.
In the next half-an-hour or so I caught a flounder and another sea-trout (both as expertly played), all received with gratitude and feverish excitement. Years later it dawned on me what good fortune it was to catch two fresh run sea trout as my introduction to fishing in the UK. Then there was the oddity of the flounders caught regularly here, three miles from the sea (as the crow flew, never mind the actual distance). They seemed at home, confirmed by the regular sighting of 'postage stamp' flatties, suggesting a breeding population - in defiance of flounder's known breeding habits.
Further visits to this small but perfectly formed venue revealed perch, brown trout (2oz a monster fish) and eels. This little pool, the best spot, would seldom give up more than three fish of any type in a session and that was a good catch. Perch were usually to be found lurking in the 'puddle' area, with eels omnipresent.
On one memorable occasion I visited during the spring run of eels, dozens and dozens of bootlace sized eels making their way upstream. An extraordinary sight.
No subsequent visit ever really matched up to the magic of that first trip though, whatever the catch.
|di·vid·er: (noun): a thing that keeps two spaces or areas separate (...and back to the top of the page)|
In 1992, while on business in Anglesey, not unrelated to earthquake monitoring in a power station, I revisited this spot with the same feeling of excitement of my first visit - and discovered the stream nominally still there, I recall a golf course, but the Expressway was built in 2001, so I suppose it might be under that now...saddened I returned (via Llyn Cerrig Bach, White House, Ryhd i Gari...) to my hotel - and lest you think me all sentimental, the sadness was in most part due to the fact that I didn't have any fishing tackle with me (oh yes I would've...).
We stayed for a couple of days in the Valley Hotel and 'funny thing' it had a snooker table at which I soundly beat one of my colleagues, to his surprise. This was funny because one of our pastimes in 1974/5 was to sneak into the airmens' mess snooker room - in a block on the main camp - and play snooker during the day with whatever cue was around, finding the 'hidden chalk' as well. We spent days and miss-spent days doing this and once or twice were summarily off-loaded back through the iron framed French windows by a steward, but airmen were generally jovial and on several occasions even played against us for fun. One such, a Scotsman, put a fiver on the table at the end of a game for me to pot the last three colours and I fluffed the black. So close, a fortune then...I'd nearly forgotten those things, but for the hotel in which the Anotherangler family spent a few days in spring 2014. This had a snooker table and a French windowed entrance (and hidden chalk). Took me right back.
1974-75: Llyn Cerrig Bach
This is what we knew it as. The plaque there agrees. The existing OS map is ambiguous. Descriptions like the link above suggest otherwise also. I presume the landscape has altered somewhat since the runway was built. It certainly has since the Iron Age...as far as I can tell the original lake surrounded Craig Carnau and this lake and what we called Carnau Lake were all part of the 'original' Llyn Cerrig Bach.
(Funny thing in 2014 I found a paper that more or less agreed with thisHow the lakes were made).
The "Lake of Little Stones" is famous for the large haul of Celtic artefacts, found when the RAF Valley runway was constructedIncluding what were clearly shackles. Just sayin'. In 1974 the lake was perhaps two or three acres, with deep reed beds around it, making fishing awkward if you didn't have waders or a periscope. We didn't.
The first time I fished here it was an evening, I was on my own and found on the south side, one small swim, an outcrop of grey rock providing a vantage point two or three feet above the water. It was clear of the reeds and gave access to four to six feet of water right under the rod tip.
I put on a small 'bobber' type float, actually the top one in the picture. I have a sneaking suspicion it might (still, technically) belong to my brother...anyhoo, I actually checked the depth and discovered over six feet of water, which was awkward for a short rod. I persevered and after a while came the 'bob...bob...bob-bob...plunge' of a perch and discovered a few things. The first was that the extra length of line gave the fish room to run - the second being this was no bad thing. The third thing is that perch work very hard to stay at the depth they're at (this is because it is hard for them to adjust the amount of air in their swim bladder, not that I knew that at the time). So you get a jagging and dogged resistance to being hauled upward. The fourth thing was (and bear in mind all the perch I have caught so far have come so far from one lake), the colour. I was presented with a 4-5oz fish (bigger than usual) and unlike its White House cousins, this was a very dark green colour, perhaps a factor of peaty water. Until the fish was at the surface you couldn't see it. Several other dark green fish followed in similar fashion, jagging up from the deeps.
Subsequently, I refined the rig for this swim. With the float-to-hook depth being about a 7' rod-length, I realised I might do better with a small slider float, which I'd read about in a library copy of Billy Lane's 'Encyclopaedia of Float Fishing'. I cycled to Valley Hardware shop to buy a suitable float, a little 'Trent Trotter' type, not that I knew that then, and I also bought a file, which stopped me using the cement courses of walls for filing stuff.
I used thin copper wire wound around a needle to make the slider ring. This wire was harvested from the ground in front of a BT junction box, (always a good source of copper wire off-cuts). The ring was whipped onto the body of the float near the top and varnished over.
In use, I made up a stop knot with 3lb mono' as the book told me to. It took about 3BB, this bulk being a foot from the bait and worked very well, easing the short casts and issues of 'the depth verses the rod length' and I got used to the tremble of the float as the line slipped through the rings. So satisfying to ccatch those fish with a solution of my own making. Great stuff.
|Much repaired, but lost orginal livery...'restored' to the orignal livery in 2014, no reason.||Home made slider, 1974, renovated for 2014, no reason...|
Hard to believe it's 40 years since I fished here. Wow. Both the above floats the same age. Huh. Below are a couple of shots of the lake taken in 1992, including the pitch with the rock in it.
|Llyn Cerrig Bach, 'the rock' looking towards south end of the lake||Llyn Cerrig Bach, from 'the rock', White House in the distance|
|'perca fluviatilis'...(and back to the top of the page)||Stripey||'Sarge'||A 'swagger' of perch||'Sarge'||A 'swagger' of perch||A 'swagger' of perch||'perca fluviatilis'||Stripey||'Sarge'|
To the south of Llyn Cerrig Bach is a small nameless pond surrounded by reeds with a couple of fishable swims on the north bank. One windy day (actually it was always windy, it was just a case of 'where on the Beaufort scale are we today?'), a man fishing there showed me how to float-ledger, the method he was using. He decently affected not to notice the short unsuitable rod - back then it seemed all off-duty airmen behaved in a civilised way - so I learnt a new thing which when tried, worked. So in the teeth of a very brisk wind, I was getting bites and reliably hooking fish, it didn't matter that said fish were 2oz perch.
This is how it works: I probably used a porcupine quill the first time I tried it (I had very little else). This method worked best with a loaded 'self-cocking' float (using solder wire to do the loading) and ideally with an antenna with the smallest ledger weight that worked at the distance. Stop shot on the hook side of the weight.
It helps to keep the rod tip (just) under the water as well. All in all, in some conditions and especially in high winds it worked rather well. If you remember the three uses of a floatI'm a float tart. This is say, I find floats hard to resist. Consequently, I have well over a hundred and have no idea why I have some of them. At least fifty sit in an old cigar box atop the tool-case and at least another thirty are foundlings. In use, I recycle a few sorts and do not even use all the ones in the tackle box, never mind the ones in my collection..., then this is a good way to use one more often...
|Float-Ledgering for 'Spike the Perch' as taught to me by a helpful airman angler.|
|medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...(and return to the top of the page)||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and wait for it...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...do keep up...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...and one more time...||medium one, small one, tiny one, silly one...got it?|
1974-75: Llyn Penrhyn
Llyn Penryhn, means 'lake with the headland' (penrhyn (n.) cape, headland, promontory, naze) and a look at the map will give you a clue. The eastern bank was covered with a dense bed of reeds, some twenty yards thick in places, with swims that were cut into the reed beds. To get close to any fish you needed to wade into the water between the reeds - the water was shallow and sloped gently, so with only wellies on one could wade twenty yards from the edge to clear water. You still needed to cast a distance, but you could balance your rod on a rest and an iron frame sticking out of the water and ledger. I only tried this once and caught several good perch around the pound mark using, I think, reeds hanging on the line as a bite indicator but my short rod was not really up to the task. Experience wonders whether quietly fishing at the edge of the reeds might have been as productive...
I fished once on a rock shelf behind the officers' quarters, with no result and recall a sun-warmed rock, shallow water and finding some split-shot on the rock (stowed, all gratefully received), which showed I was not alone in the idea of it being a good place to try. I wonder, sitting here, whether a better spot was on the headland itself, with the possibility of some depth of water near the bank (it turns out this was the caseAnd with stepping stones to get you there...).
The pictures below were taken in 2016 by Tom Jones who contacted me as detailed belowThis is why I lke the internet and my thanks for allowing me to use them here.
|A view of the RAF (officers) quarters across Llyn Penrhyn.||In Tom Jones' own words:''At the rear of Llyn Penrhyn there were stepping stones across a reed bed and the shallowish water to get to the rock facing the little island at Penrhyn. The RSPB have dredged a deep channel so it is no longer possible to get across there.''||Another view round the back of what used to be Llyn Penrhyn's big island before the RSPB dredged the channel.|
|I like porcupine quill floats...(and back to the top of the page)||I really like porcupine quill floats...||I really like porcupine quill floats...|
1974-75: Carnau Lake
This lake is to the north of Craig Carnau itself, lying in the lee of the small hill.
The whole lake is behind the hill which put the south bank in shade and shadow, keeping that side of the lake becalmed and even on the brightest days, quiet pools of shadow and calm dark water. I have mentioned the atmosphere on this clutch of waters before and while not exactly Stygian gloom, it had a disconnected and slightly ethereal feel.
The lake is narrow and our fishing was concentrated on the two ends. The west end where the lake narrowed to a reed covered exit stream had some depth of water and was often clear enough to see perch mid-water at the edge of a smaller reed patch some five yards from where the water exited among yet more reeds. This was where the small head of sea trout that frequented the lake gained entrance, but although they existed, they were so infrequently caught that a trout fishing license was not considered mandatory for the lake, (unlike Trawfyll).
At this western end we caught many perch of a slightly larger average size than in White House and I cannot recall catching larger than about 4oz, but seldom less. As in all of the lakes there were eels, but there seemed more here than elsewhere and any worm left on the bottom for fifteen minutes, would tend to develop the 'little eel' bite thing. This is when they apparently insinuate themselves around the bait without actually moving it - often the float dips a quarter inch and stays there...I recall grown-up anglers saying matches could be won here with a net of eels.
At the eastern end the water narrowed into a large reed bed which continued into a thin channel of weedy water that connected under the road to Llyn Cerrig Bach, (a similar channel also connected Llyn Cerrig Bach to White House). This reed-bed had various little inlets and bays with paths snaking around the banks amongst the reeds. This was interesting - there were several good spots in here, but again the catch seemed to be limited to 4oz perch - excepting one occasion.
The camp angling club had introduced a tench and carp into Llyn Carnau which promptly disappeared off the radar. About one a year was caught. I know this, because fishing in the reeds at the eastern end, I rolled up to a swim, dropped in the by now inevitable porcupine quill and it went straight under. Now, as previously hinted at, I have a seven foot 2½lb test curve rod and 3lb line. The landing method was to hoist out the fish. That was it. We had no net anyway, so I hoisted. A large brownish lump appeared and was 'placed' on the bank. Someone (Ian Lees I think) went off for scales and on weighing the tench (and I knew it was a tench as it looked like the tench in all three of my fishing books) was found to be 1½lb. That was my first tench, the only one I caught until a small bag on the Rye DykeWant to know how to catch fish from up a tree? Read on... some years later.
I did think it was 2½lb, but on reflection, even with 3lb line and a good blood knot (quite careful with knots even then, I was a Scout) I think a 2½lb fish might have not "hoisted" that well... I subsequently found out that had I declared it I would have won the tench cup for the year (it would have been the sole entrant). It never occurred to me a 1½lb tench would win anything. Drat.
I've caught scores of tench since, but still get excited about that thump on the line...
|Proper Float...(and back to the top of the page)||Another proper float|
1974-75: 'The Bridge'
The top of White House Lake narrows, despite the high ground on the west and low flat marsh on the east side. This channel connects to Llyn Dinam and was mostly inacessible, so was never fished. One day I took it into my head to explore this un-fished part. In the late spring I picked my way across the marsh, which on a clear day looked like any rough damp pasture, but on a misty one conjured up images of spectral and monstrous hounds. Very flat bits of this ground were best treated with deep suspicion, as thin turf hid deep water or mud. Where the lake necked there was a line of scrubby trees on either side of the channel. On reaching them it was clear that access to the water was limited, but on making my way a few yards 'upstream' as it were, I came across a bridge.
I say 'bridge', you've probably conjured up images of an ancient stone arch, thick with old moss. This was simply two large girders which disappeared into the bright green moss of the bank on the near side and embedded on the far side in a concrete block with a manhole cover. These girders were carrying services of some kind, but as far as I was concerned, a bridge. I edged across the cold scabby iron over the narrow channel of water. Perhaps 10' feet wide, it was almost roofed over with branches and the water had grey-green depths hinting at large perch. It was a magical spot and I spent some time watching the water, although nothing stirred. If there was a flow it was not apparent. The overhung green translucent calm, smell of the marshy ground and the isolation combined to give a heady mixture of signals that yelled 'fish here'. Easy for a 14 year old with 'the fever' already deeply embedded, to imagine solid and dark perch jagging up from deep water, after pouncing on the offered worm. I determined to fish at the next opportunity.
Circumstances were against me, the posting was over and we moved away in late '74. After the move, battling the change from almost daily fishing to almost none, I would set up the 7' rod, with the self-made slider float and dream of monsters under the bridge...a couple of years later, I received a fibreglass car aerial, perhaps 5' long and I made a simple one-handed rod, ideal for small spaces where even 7ft rods might clash with the undergrowth. This was enthusiastically bought by a friend, which I regret.
The bridge leapt unasked into my thoughts the other morning, while I lay abed listening to the rain, wondering if I might get out for a 'fix'. I still want to fish there. One day.
1974-75: Drabe'd Ditch
So, behind our house there was a playing field. Once, spellbound, I once watched a wall of snow, fresh-blown off the Irish sea, roll up this slope like a curtain. However, if you followed the slope past the garages, always handy for a cast-off hacksaw blade, down the next bit of open grass and through the fence, there was a ditch, half in the field and half under the hedge. There was tortured gorse and dark water and mystery...so one day I passed from wondering to hand-lining a worm. And from the black water into which twisted skeins of gorse plunged, came a see-sawing 4oz perch, the dog-fighter's 'falling leaf' in reverse. Well now. They really were everywhere. I went home. I only wanted to know.
1974-75: Rhyd y Gari, Cymyran (sea)
There are three contrasting ways to fish the sea here (or there were). You can fish off the south beach or in the channel between Holy Island and the Main Island or fish on the vast flat exposed by the falling tide, through which a few back channels fill on the incoming tide at the far side of the sand. It's not quite a risky as some places, but you need to keep a close eye on if you chose to fish off the exposed sand, especially as one of the first channels that filled ran on the inside track and could cut you right off with five knots and four feet of cold water.
• This brings me to 'The Barnes Wallis BassYou can hum the theme music to 'The Dambusters' while reading this bit if you like.'...we had the good fortune to have a neighbour (whose name escapes me) take myself and my brother out bass fishing from the sand at the south end of Rhyd y Gari, opposite Cymyran (Pathfinder 750 for the curious) - also "rhyd" translates to "ford" which some might think 'optimistic'.
The channel between Anglesey and Holy Island is narrow with a ferocious flow. As the tide turns you can watch the water stop, hover and start to move in the other direction. It really rips, you'd be gone in an instant. If you skip a flat stone across this flow and get it right you get a perfect parabola of splashes that holds it's curve for an instant before vanishing.
Anyhow, our neighbour lent my bother a beach caster and as my seven foot rod had the oomph if not the length I used that. He also very decently gave my brother a 6' white fibreglass spinning rod, which he still has and should not be sneezed at. Solid fibreglass has a good springy action, better than hollow and is very tough. I digress, again.
The first part of 'plan bass' involved finding peeler crabs which was a new experience for us and good fun. Rooting around the seashore is a satisfying activity at any time, probably due to it being difference between 'lunch' and 'being lunch' at some distant point in our collective ancestry. You hunt around for crabs in the seaweed and under rocks and if you find a crab, see if it's ready to peel by looking for a crack in the back of the shell or breaking off a bottom bit of leg and see if a new skin is forming underneath, the precursor to shedding its old shell. Occasionally you'll find a soft shelled one that has just 'peeled'. They're pretty useful bait as well.
Anyhow, we were tackled up with the crabs secured on a large bright barbed-shank hook with cotton thread to keep it on and all three of us stood on the sand at the edge of the flow, cast in and stood there holding our rods. At this point there is a vast expanse of sand when the tide is out, some 200 yards across and stretching all the way back to Four Mile Bridge some two miles away. My brother asked what we should do if we got a fish and was told that bass had large mouths and a tendency to head towards the shore when hooked and were best dealt with by retreating away from the shore while reeling in, both to be done at a brisk pace.
Time passed, the tide came in, the weather and surroundings were pleasant, a few words were exchanged, but we were thirteen and eleven and our guide was an adult and there was little to talk about really.
During one of the short exchanges, I turned to our neighbour and became aware that there was someone missing from our little party. I looked round - 30 yards away with a beach-caster over one shoulder was a diminishing form not inconsistent with my younger brother. I looked at my neighbour and he at me, then there was a splash between our positions, followed by a large silver object that skipped out of the surf, bounced off the shelving sand and once more between our feet before skating and skipping across the sand. I think we both yelled words to the effect of "you can stop now" to a now distant and determined figure...
The stunned fish turned out to be an 8lb bass (this was the biggest fish either of us caught for five years). It was a tremendous fish which ever way you look at it. I'm still envious and only partly because I was reminded on a regular basis for the next five years who caught the family record fish. Interesting use of the word 'caught'.
It was a bigger bass than our erstwhile mentor had ever caught either and I think it rather got him down at the time, although he was very decent about it.
That's the nature of fishing, you can spend a lot of time trying for the elusive and next day someone turns up out of the blue, bungs in a bait and wallop. Luck counts for a lot and that's part of the point. I don't recall my brother coming again, but I certainly went again, but never did catch a bass there.
|di·vid·er: (noun): a thing that keeps two spaces or areas separate (...and back to the top of the page)|
• I went at least twice more with 'the neighbour'. The first time I switched to fishing a baited spoon in the channel the incoming tide ran through between the house and the sand steppe. I'd read about it you see and couldn't convince myself that the hook on the spoon would work so took it off and tied one on a foot of line with the hook at the other end. I perched on the rock and fished it sink and draw and nabbed two flounders, the second large enough the pull the tip of the old blue starter rod right over. "If they get any bigger", said the bass-fishing responsible adult, "I shall fish for them myself".
I then modified my spoon with a couple of small drilled bullets under the bead to add casting weight . On another occasion I bass fished off the steppe and once the tide ran in, fished in the channel to no avail then decided to cast into the filling lagoon behind - once having reached dry land that is. I stood on a handy rock and did get my flounder but it was decently sized, caught the current and I had to fall in or step in. I chose wisely, so had to empty the wellies and endure jibes along the lines of "A flatty pulled him in". On the way home, the hurriedly collapsed rod left the spoon dangled outside the boot and the wire was more than bent by the trip...and here it is. Three flounders and a plaice to the good.
The sand dunes between the parking area and the beach was the back-stop for a long forgotten small arms range and one could find a score of 0.45" bullets in little time and then, as boys do, sit on the beach with a catapult and try to hit seagulls on the wing. Once I even hit one.
|Just to the right out of shot is the rock that the flounder didn't pull me off. This pool becomes a stream on the incoming tide, flowing away from the camera, and the little bay becomes a handy spot for flatties. And long lines.||Looking in the direction of Caernarfon Bay. Cymyran is just visible on the right and the tide has just turned.||Rhyd y Gari sands. Looks nice. When the tide turns it races across there, let me tell you.|
I can recall only the three trips in fact, although I once set up a long line on the steppe, wading the bottom end of the 'other' Afon Crigyll with five hooks, a long piece of para-cord and a stake at one end and a stone with a hole in it at the other. I put blood-loops in the para-cord then loop-knotted the 12lb Perlon - my 'sea fishing' line. It took some weeks to get a time when the evening tide was low and the Saturday morning tide was low as well, I caught two, neither massive, both went in the pan and for the parent's part I'd 'just been fishing off the beach'. Kind of true. The flounders tasted just fine.
|Battered but not beaten, the flounder spoon.||Scruffy but effective...the spoon, not the user.|
1974-75: The Floating Bank
No name for this lake on any map I could find - so here is the lake.
This was behind the small part of the camp that had the 'NAAFI' and surgery, on the east shore of Penryhn. Once through the fence, a footpath led to the soggy end of Llyn Traffwll, past a small pond with a thick reed bed and one fishable bank. This bank, ostensibly turf, was one to three feet thick and floating. Really, you could poke a stick through the peat and after a bit it would meet nothing but water. If you jumped up and down it wobbled (I know...).
Half-way up this bank was a hole, dug by some person with even less sense, which you could fish through. The water was four or five feet deep, the perch were very numerous and 4-6oz on average which was a draw. Fishing on this lake was completely forbidden for juniors under all circumstances...when anyone was looking.... We fished it a few times, the rewards far outweighing the theoretical possibility of plunging through the peat and drowning unseen in the dark water.
I recall fishing it once with rod and line and dropped a wonderful blue-handled Swiss Army (fisherman's version) penknife SAKIn them days boys had pen-knives. You just did and if you were a boy-scout you also learned how not to cut yourself, although from a practical stand-point, 'cutting yourself', was how most of us learnt. It never occured to us to stab anyone. , barely three months from a birthday, into the dark water and being more concerned about (a) the reaction to losing it at all and (b) where it was lost. I mitigated (b) by suggesting it was at the tip end of 'Carnau', where the stream entrance swim was deep enough to defeat a landing net. I was still thoroughly castigated of course. On another occasion I approached the lake from the Traffwll end, where a narrow channel of water led under some scrubby trees and could be fished. The fishing pal and I were not fishing, but we found some line, a hook, dug scraps of worm and took turns to hand-line out perch for a few lost happy hours. Heh.
That penknife will be tagged as a votive offering in a thousand years. Still, the old no-name black-handled Spanish hard carbon-steel penknife held a rather better edge (and I still have a number of thin white scars to prove it), so going back to this was no hardship.
|Split...(and back to the top of the page)||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot||Split...||...shot|
1974-75: Llyn Traffwll
This was the closest lake and twice the size of Llyn Penrhyn, fishing it required a trout license which I didn't have. The real reason to avoid poaching was that you might get caught fishing without one, so losing your club permit. You only had to cross the road, take the footpath down the hill behind Eglwys St. Mitiangel's Church and escape the attention of the psychopathic collie that considered the footpath past the farm its personal domain. Five minutes to the shore, two if the collie was 'in'. The foot-path went between the boulders on the western shoreline, which resembled a handful of rocks carelessly tossed by a giant. They were good for climbing, but small beer after Boddam's granite and Akotiri's limestone. There were several gaps in these giant's-jacks and once I came across an angler hunched into such and watched him catch perch while hoping for a trout. He implored me to hunch down, I thought to keep from scaring fish, but later realised he'd no trout license either. Once through these rocks, the path snaked through reed-beds, the tops hissing in the wind over my head, crossed several patches of peaty water and once a side-path to the right (to the floating banks lake). One day I went on, bore left, then there was a small headland, where the ground rose to dry grass and grey stone. On the side of this headland there was a multitude of goose feathers, a carpet undulating in the waves, so I sat and picked one out, which had a small hole and a pair of splits running up the quill. Inside, was a single small lead shot. I shook it to make it rattle, wondering who would think no.6 shot would bring down a goose, then held it up and let the wing whirl it over my head.
Never fished it. No idea why I didn't make floats from those quills. Probably because I already had four floats.
|Gobio Gobio (and return to the top of the page)||Gonk||Gobby||Gonk||Gobio Gobio||Gobby||Gobio Gobio||Gudgeon||Gudgeon||Gobio Gobio|
An Anglesey ex-pat writes...
I had an email or two in 2013-14 from an Anglesey (Bodedern) ex-pat - one of the wonders of the interweb, that stuff 'out there' attracts occasional and fascinating correspondence - although I'm now well served for a supply of nice Russian girls looking for a husband (should I find myself alone and lobotomised) - he'd fished the lakes mostly in the 60's. Penrhyn was a favourite because of the big perch and I was surprised to find there were stepping stones to the rocks opposite the island (around the back). Spinning was good there with a good old 'MEPPS' spinner as well worm baits. He mentioned the RSPB have dredged the 'stepping stones area' now so the water is several feet deep and he did try to fish it once, not knowing what had happened but there was no depth around the edges of the lake. This appears to have been since I fished it (in 1974/5) and the present time. It may be there's a clause stating that RAF Valley club members can still fish here. In 1997 I did speak to the Valley Camp Liaison Officer and he seemed to think that fishing was still allowed - I had a plan to go back for some fishing and arranged everything only to discover I had no holiday owing. Duh.
It would be nice, I think, to see the RSPB and anglers working together more.
The RSPB appear to have banked up the edges of the lakes through dredging, so basically you can't cast out far enough to get at any fish. Recently he said he'd fished Llyn Cerrig Bach a few times and there are some good healthy roach and rudd there and a 'surprise' 2-3lb tench - I speculate this might have been from the original stocking in Llyn Carnau in the early 70s maybe.
My correspondent also used to love fishing White House (Llyn Treflesg). He tells me a kind old lady lived there and let them dig in her chicken compost heap for worms and she also used to shout them up off the bridge for some ice cold orange squash on hot summer days (that doesn't happen any more does it?). Sadly it's all changed now, The last time he was there the cottage was derelict, the bridge was all but rotted away and the land around the lake is completely overgrown with bramble and fern. The public footpaths linking the lakes across the bridge are still there but mainly due to walkers and 'twitchers', sadly not fishermen. This must have been after my 1992 fly-past, as the bridge was fine and access to the lake was possible, if not well trodden.
He generously provided me some recent (2016) photographs and has allowed me to use them, so here they are with the 'tooltip' text explaining the pictures.
|A view of the 'White House' Lake. The old lady's name (who lived in the 'White House') was Mrs Edwards.||This shot is taken from the bank opposite the White House and the footbridge is on the far left of the picture||We discussed the idea that 'White House' (Llyn Treflesg) might have been deeper and that some features of the lake were a little man-made in appearance - you can see an iron ring in this shot. It transpired these such were attachment points for dredgers when the silt was removed to extend the runway, after which the lakes filled naturally in the 1940's.|
|This view is of the channel from the other side of the footbridge, another good spot for perch.||This beautiful view of 'White House' (Llyn Treflesg) is taken from the foot bridge at the south end. Note the colour of the water, a luminous lime green scum. The bridge now only has a rail to one side now, presumably to discourage fishing off it.||In his own words: ''As you can see it is all overgrown now. This is looking down the (White House) lake from where the house used to be. There used to be an old caravan on the right and there was a good mark from the bank, and deep water.'' The caravan was there when I flew by in the early 90's, dilapidated then, and the deep water off 'the point' on the right was certainly a good mark!|
|Where the actual 'White House' used to be: In his own words:''This is all that remains. It's clearly been demolished and the spoils removed. Just weeds now. The orchard is totally overgrown and the chicken manure heap gone. I often got my worms from there. The old lady used to bring us boys fresh cool water and squash on hot days. I don't know if there was a spring there but it tasted delicious. She was so kind. I'll try and find out a bit of history about the place, who lived there, when it was built etc. However you just don't see kindness like that these days. I think she probably just enjoyed chatting to us as she lived on her own. She must have had a phone though, the telegraph pole remains''||The railway bridge by 'White House' lake. In his own words: ''You will remember this bridge over the railway if ever you drove over it. Depending on the type of car, the exhaust used to scrape the road. All overgrown now. I vaguely remember also having to sit on the bonnet to give that extra traction to get over the hump.''|
And like me, he rues the passing of the Valley lakes, which were truly natural and the fish wild. He and I should like to fish them just once more! I may yet.
He also tells me the Valley lakes are 'eutrophic lakes' - a lake that is naturally nutrient rich. It has a relatively high alkaline status and high phosphorous levels. This type of lake is now quite uncommon throughout Europe because of pollution. There's a bit more information hereThe Valley Wetlands.
I followed up the 'eutrophic lakes' angle out of curiosity...
Now and this is interesting, I found this 'PDF' on the creation of Valley Lakes (with the exception of Llyn Penrhyn). '
|The copyright for these belongs, in so far as I can tell, to the writers of 'A PHOTOGRAPHIC RECORD OF A PRE- AND POST-LAKE CREATION EVENT FROM WORLD WAR II AT VALLEY, ISLE OF ANGLESEY, UK' the paper linked to above.|
|The copyright for these belongs, in so far as I can tell, to the writers of 'A PHOTOGRAPHIC RECORD OF A PRE- AND POST-LAKE CREATION EVENT FROM WORLD WAR II AT VALLEY, ISLE OF ANGLESEY, UK' the paper linked to above.|
The other picture in the paper shows what we knew as Llyn Carnau, labelled as Cerrig Bach NOT the lake by the road as it's labelled today. That makes more sense when the area of the finds is described as having a cliff face of 30 feet overlooking it. It does also suggest why Carnau had the darker atmosphere, if you notice that kind of thing.
You think you know something about something...
|I am content to wait. I am well used to it...(and back to the top of the page)||a very subtil fish||Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders.||if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience||I am content to wait. I am well used to it.|
So that was Angelsey in 1974 and 1975, for me anyway. Had it not been for the fishing, I'd have gone quite mad. As it was, it was a close run thing.
It's funny, that having put effort into marking my time here, that a chance correspondence and the resulting research added so much interesting stuff, even so long after the event. I don't believe it's worth 'going back', but feel that sooner or later I'll return with a rod. And while I won't expect to, or find it unchanged, I'll like the place again.
|Gobio Gobio (and return to the top of the page)||Gonk||Gobby||Gonk||Gobio Gobio||Gobby||Gobio Gobio||Gudgeon||Gudgeon||Gobio Gobio|
|12:56am on 2017-10-21|