Fishing Guide to SW Wales

The Teifi, the Tywi and their network of tiny tributaries bring the gleam of salmon, trout and sewin deep inland among the hill farms and smallholdings of this glorious corner of Wales.

The South West Wales River Division covers an area of approximately million acres, consisting of the old counties of Cardiganshire, Pem-brokeshire and Carmarthenshire, now known as Dyfed. It is mostly a hilly area and the rivers are brisk, well-aerated spate streams. The most common species of fish caught in them are the Atlantic salmon, sewin (sea trout), brown trout, and some grayling.

From north to south the rivers of most note are the Clarach, Rheidol, Ystwyth, Wyre, Arth, Aeron, Teifi, Nefern, Gwaun, Western Cleddau, Eastern Cleddau, Taf, Tywi (including Gwili and Cothi), Gwen-draeth Fach, Gwendraeth Fawr, Loughor and Tawe.

The River Clarach is two miles north of Aberystwyth and holds a few salmon, sewin and brown trout. Fishing rights are owned by local farmers who should be approached for permission to fish. It is reached along the B4512 road.


Aberystwyth is situated at the mouth of the rivers Rheidol and Ystwyth which contain salmon, sewin and brown trout. Of the two the Rheidol is the better. Most club fishing is under the control of the Aberystwyth Angling Association or the Llanilar Angling Association. Fly, spinning and wormledger are the methods most used locally. Various lakes also lie within a 10-mile radius of Aberystwyth, and are stocked with trout. Day tickets are available from the above clubs.

Aberaeron is at the mouth of the River Aeron, which has a good run of sewin from June onwards and also holds plenty of small brown trout. As with all these small coastal streams, the fishing is best on falling water following a spate.

The Wyre and Arth

The Wyre and Arth are small spate streams north of the town. Fishing in the lower reaches of the Aeron is available with a daily or a weekly ticket from the Aberaeron Angling Association, but farmers control the middle reaches. There is good access to the Aeron valley via the A482 Aberaeron to Lampeter road.

The River Teifi, 70 miles long with a watershed of some 389 square miles, is one of the two principal rivers of South West Wales. Cardigan is situated at the mouth and the A484 gives good access to the lower 10 miles. The main angling species are salmon, sewin, brown trout and a few grayling (between Lampeter and Llandysul). Salmon run to beyond Tregaron, but the sewin do not penetrate in numbers much higher than Llandysul. The best brown trout fishing is from Lampeter up to the source. Regarding seasons, there is a small run of big sea trout in mid-May but the main run starts a month later. Many salmon are caught throughout the season, and brown trout fishing in the upper reaches is best in spring and early summer. Fly, spinning and wormledger are the most successful methods of the Teifi.

The Teifi Pools are six lakes situated on the Teifi headwaters about five miles east of Pon-trhydfendigaid. Now under new management, a seven-year pro-gramme of restocking has begun on its lakes, and day tickets are available in Pontrhydfendigaid and Tregaron to fish for its rainbows and native brown trout.

Most of the Teifi is fishable on shortterm permits issued through the clubs or the hotels. The Teifi Trout Association at Newcastle Emlyn controls parts of the lower reaches, the Llandysul Angling Association Ltd and the Llanybyther Angling Club control extensive parts of the middle reaches, and the Tregaron Angling Association and the Strata Florida Angling Association have long stretches of the upper waters.

Teifi spins well on falling water following a small spate. Fly fishing after sundown is often deadly in July and August, while worm is nearly always effective during the (not infrequent) floods.

Newport is at the mouth of the River Nefern which contains salmon, sewin and brown trout. The best of the fishing is controlled by clubs or hotels, but access to the upper reaches is directly through farms. Visitors’ permits can be obtained through the Newport and District Angling Association, at Dinas Cross. The A487 road reaches much of the Nevern valley, but access to the river is rugged.

The Gwaun at Fishguard

At Fishguard, the River Gwaun is a little sewin and trout river with some salmon late in the season. It is accessible from Lower Fishguard or anywhere along the Gwaun valley via the B4313 road. Fishing permission must be obtained from farmers.

The Western Cleddau lies north of Haverfordwest and contains sewin, brown trout and a small run of salmon. The Pembrokeshire Angling Association controls the best of the fishing, including the tributaries, and gives details of access points when issuing tickets. Night fishing with fly for sewin is often good from July onwards. Access to the Cleddau valley is via the B4330.

The Eastern Cleddau enters Milford Haven from the eastern shore and is the better of the two Cleddaus. Although the lower reaches around Canaston are in private hands, the visitor can obtain the right to fish from farms and pubs. The middle reaches are gained via the B4313 Fishguard to Narberth road. There is good sewin fishing after the summer spates, and the rare burbot may exist in the lower reaches.

The slow moving Taf

St Clears marks the lower parts of the River Taf, a quiet-paced little river carrying good runs of sewin, some salmon, and plenty of herring-sized brown trout. The upper reaches, between Llanfallteg and Llanglydwen, are pleasantly remote and reached on foot along the aban-doned railway track. To reach it by car one should take the A478 then turn down the side roads. Tickets for the lower reaches are obtainable from the Whitland Angling Association in Whitland.

The Tywi is the second chief river of South West Wales. It is about 60 miles long and drains a watershed of approximately 514 square miles. The water tends to be clearer than that of Teifi, and the river is slightly larger. It is a sewin river par excellence with specimens up to 17lb or more. One also finds salmon, brown trout and a few pike in the lower reaches, and a large sturgeon over 300lb was once caught on rod and line. Fly fishing, spinning and wormledgering are the main techniques used. The Cothi, though a tributary of the Tywi, is comparable to the major rivers in terms of its salmon and sea trout runs and is well catered for by local pubs and hotels, with the odd one or two fishing clubs.

Visitors to the Tywi

Although much of the Tywi is private there is a club and hostel fishing in the lower, middle and upper reaches. Visitors’ tickets for the lower reaches are issued by the Carmarthen and District Angling Association, for the middle reaches by the Llandeilo Angling Association, and by the Llandovery Angling Association for the upper reaches. Access to the Tywi valley is along the A40 which runs between Carmarthen and Llandeilo.

Kidwelly lies near the mouths of the small rivers Gwendraeth Fach and Gwendraeth Fawr. These streams are fished mostly for brown trout, although sewin and a few salmon also run upstream. Permission to fish is from the farmers. Access to the Fach valley is along the A484 road, and to the middle reaches of the Fawr along the B4309 Carmarthen to Llanelli road.

The River Loughor is a once-polluted stream that is recovering its run of salmon and sewin, and is also stocked with brown trout. The river enters its estuary at Pontar-dulais, and the river valley is reached from minor roads leading off the A483. Fortunately, nearly all the fishing is in the hands of clubs such as the Pontardulais and District Angling Association and the Llangyfelach and District Angling Association from whom visitors may obtain tickets.

Swansea is on the River Tawe, a river that was grossly polluted, but which since 1958 has started to run sewin and a few salmon. The brown trout fishing is also improving. Access to the river valley is along the A4607 road. Most of the water is controlled by such clubs as the Tawe and Tributaries Angling Association, or the Swansea and Pontar-dawe AA which issue permits.

Sea fishing

Sea fishng around South West Wales is affected by the North Atlantic Drift—a fairly warm current. Cod and haddock, which like cold water, are not found therefore, and their place is taken by bass and pollack which prefer warmer water.

Aberystwyth is notable in having the only offshore reefs in Cardigan Bay to hold regular shoals of excellent black bream. The reefs, the Cynfelin Patches, lie one to five miles offshore, and are visited by bass, tope, thornback, stingray, and monkfish.

Beach fishing can be enjoyed from Aberystwyth down to Llanrhystyd and New Quay for bass, mackerel and flatfish. Farther southwards the coast becomes rocky and the rock-loving species such as pollack, con-ger and wrasse may also be added to the bag.

Farther south again, Cardigan is met on the estuary of the Teifi. This contains exceptionally good bass together with mullet and flounders. An lSglb bass was caught by a salmon fisher in 1956. Lug can be dug on the foreshore at Poppit or by the old lifeboat slip at Penrhyn.

South from Cardigan, the coast is mainly rock-bound and most anglers fish from the sandy beaches at Newport or from the breakwaters in Fishguard Harbour. Lug and razor-fish can be obtained at low tide. Bass, flatfish and whiting are taken in autumn.

There are several good beaches around St David’s as well as rock venues on St David’s Head. Lug can be obtained at Solva Harbour which is also a convenient point for laun-ching towed dinghies. Newgale Sands is a well-known location for bass fishing at night using beach-casting techniques.

Razorfish and lug can be dug at Dale to fish beaches on the Dale peninsula, and boats may be hired at Dale and at Hobb’s Point to fish the sheltered Milford Haven. Bass, flat-fish, thornbacks, mullet, conger, mackerel and most other species are found in the Haven, including herring in season.

Surf-casting venues The fishing from Linney Head to Worms Head embraces Carmarthen Bay and the resorts of Tenby and Saundersfoot. Access to most of this water is on long sandy beaches which are popular as surf-casting venues for bass, flats and other inshore species. Boats are obtainable at Tenby and Saundersfood, or towed dinghies can be launched. The beaches between Amroth and Laugharne are often productive of good flounders and have yielded ray of up to 14lb.

Cefn Sidan Sands, accessible from Burry Port, is an extensive stretch of shallow water beach fishing for bass, dabs and flounder. On the Gower Peninsula the venues are an interesting mixture of rock and beach locations with good bass reported from Worms Head.

Lug can be dug on Swansea beach and in the Burry estuary at Penclawdd. Good fishing is reported from Swansea and Port Talbot breakwaters; also from the rocks at Ogmore, Barry and Penarth. Codling tend to frequent the Bristol Channel and figure in the catches, while porbeagle sharks are frequently docked at the Swansea Sea Angling Centre. Anglers fishing off Ox-wich Point have had considerable success with the black bream shoals.