No fisherman worth his or her salt is unaccustomed to a bit of adverse weather, that doesn't mean we don't like the odd drop of the good stuff. Just 3 weeks ago I was forced to cancel a planned adventure, flooding, damaging winds and general horribleness took the outlook for 4 days in the mountains from uncomfortable to outright dangerous. And now as I headed up the M5 it seemed my fortunes had changed and I was finally in for some of that good stuff. Ahead of me lay 4 days of adventure - trekking, camping and generally existing in the Rhinog mountains with a plan to explore some of the lakes and streams that I come across along the way.
The Rhinog mountains are a favourite play area of mine, beautiful, rugged and without anywhere near the number of visitors the Snowdonia range seems to attract. It is perfectly possible to disappear into these hills for days and not see a soul and that was exactly what I planned. As I abandoned the car and prepared for the climb into the hills the thermometer read 29 celsius, the sun beat down relentlessly, tempered only by a near gale force easterly wind. Is it possible to have too much of this good stuff?
I think it might have been better when it was blowing a gale.
Those of you that fish for brown trout will realise that these were perhaps far from ideal conditions for filling your boots, or any other receptacle for that matter, with fish. Those of you that spend time in the mountains will realise that these conditions were far from ideal for moving about comfortably. Those of you that do both of these things will realise that things were fairly tough. The great thing about these trips for me is that all of the normal stresses and worries of daily life quickly evaporate as your attentions most turn to more basic needs, in this case water and sunscreen.
The other great thing about fishing in these mountains is the variety. The variety of fishing opportunities, tiny streams narrow enough to step across, fast flowing with unexpected waterfalls and shady plunge pools which leave you in a dilemma (particularly in weather such as this) do I cast a line there or just dive on in? Milly, my companion on most adventures such as this, had no such dilemma and flung herself in to any water she came across on her travels. Some of the lakes, or Llyns, are shallow, clear and rich with good insect life and free rising fish, despite the conditions, others are deep and mysterious with peat stained waters and very little sign of life.
Meet Milly A.K.A 'Loops' which is nothing to do with flycasting but her general direction of travel.
The trout too vary enormously from dark, almost black backed sleek fish to the fat, buttery yellow fish that I always associated with the rich chalkstreams of the south. I found free rising, enthusiastic fish in one lake and dour, stubbornness in the lake next door, separate by just hundreds of yards.
The best thing of all about simply existing in places such as this is the pure, unaltered, untamed beauty. Fish or no fish, rain or shine I cannot help but feel somehow cleansed from my time there.