Salmon Fishing, River Teifi
A brace of Teifi summer grilse for visitor Paul Hopwood , July.
The reputation which the River Teifi currently has for sea trout fishing often eclipses its less widely known but excellent salmon fishery. In days gone by the Teifi was perceived primarily as a salmon river which had a population of sea trout and no wonder, the abundance of its salmon was phenomenal and it maintained several villages whose main income came from harvesting this bountiful resource, nowadays, of course, the reverse applies, the Teifi is perceived as sewin river which has some salmon. Back in the day salmon were transported by the new train lines to London in massive quantities for export, juvenile salmon were netted from the river to be used as fertiliser for local fields or packed into barrels for salting as a delicacy. It seemed the resource would never end - a view which continues to this day in some quarters - but currently there's gradual realisation that the fragility of this wonderful fish's existence warrants greater protection and I sincerely hope that the current review of Welsh fisheries will result in a byelaw forbidding the killing of salmon.
Having said that the visiting angler can still expect good sport with the king of fish, we get salmon runs which rival most rivers in Wales, around 400 are caught by rod and on line each season and our prices are incredibly good compared to the Wye where the cost of an average beat costs around £40 a day while a ticket with the Teifi Trout Association for a week costs £80 before September and £100 afterwards - and that's for 12 miles of fishing. It's even better value if you rent our cottage of course, the fishing comes free to our visitors.
The Wye is a big river , 135 miles long, compared to the Teifi's smaller but perfectly formed 75 miles and although the Wye knocks us out of the water as a spring fishery our catch returns show that we give the Wye a very good run for its money as the season progresses, particular if you compare it length for length.
I thought it'd be interesting to compare returns for the last few years in the chart below and from July onwards you'll see that you stand a better chance of catching a salmon in the Teifi than the Wye and at a fraction of the cost. And remember the Wye's sea trout fishing simply doesn't feature in the league of sea trout rivers, on the Teifi you have the choice of fishing a river which holds two species of game fish, a godsend if you have low water which favours sewin fishing.
Most Teifi rods switch from sewin to salmon as the season progresses and we get some big fish from September onwards although the river can always throw a few surprises, be prepared. One of the best fish I've seen is this 23lb fish caught by local Colin Gentle just downstream of Alma House.
The Teifi isn't a big river and most of the fly fishing is aproached with a single handed rod but in a flood the double handed rod is the tool of choice to cast large, heavy flies across what can suddenly become a fairly wide expanse of water.
The most effective method of fishing for salmon which I've seen in falling and settled water is a methodical searching techique using a floating line an variations of Ally's Shrimps in fairly small sizes, around a 10 or 8 hook size. It's fairly intensive work involing a long wade downstream and casting to every inch of water on the opposite bank regardless of the depth. One September a couple of Spanish anglers I know who fish in this manner had eleven salmon between them in an afternoon in the water extending from the end of our beat up to Pwll Gelliorlas which Google maps tells me is a distance of 645 metres.
Heavier water demands bigger flies and that's when tubes and large salmon irons come into play, a good dash of orange being the favourite ingredient. As ever the heads and tails of pools produce the best results. Please consider using single, barbless hooks.
Again I suggest for the sake of the river to use single barbless hooks, particularly if you're using Fly Cs which often go straight down the throat of the fish. Garry Evans sells the lures pre loaded with a single, no bother, they're currently selling at 5 for £12.50, give them a go, along with Rapalas they're the most popular spinner used on the river.
Choice of spinner should also include some Mepps, a few Tobys and a couple of Blair spoons along with some Devon minnows. Surprisingly Blair spoons, Tobys and Devons seem to have fallen out of fashion but they're very good fish catchers and deserve a try, the heavier spoons are essential for fishing a good flood.
It's worth stepping up the breaking strain of your kit to fish for the salmon and I reccommend that if you are using the Devil's toothpicks it would be best to use 30lb braid with a 20 lb leader.
Worming accounts for a lot of the rod caught Teifi salmon, if you do fish this method please consider using circle hooks in large sizes or a barbless hook which will hold the bait surprisingly well if a bit of elastic band's added to the hook after the bait's on. West Wales is a region of Britain where you won't feel embarrassed to use the garden fly, in fact it's de rigeur among its many adherents, none of us are getting any younger and I can see myself sitting gnome -like by the river dangling something from the compost heap eventually so spare a thought for the old guys who have every reason to use this method. You can also fish a prawn although I don't see this method used much even though the byelaws allow a bait to be fished under a float, frowned upon in some quarters but it seems like a less damaging way to fish a bait than legering as the fish are hooked more cleanly using this method.