Where is Chirk Fishery?
Chirk Fishery, as the name suggests is based in the village of Chirk in Wrexham, North Wales. It's not too far from Llangollen, so it's in the middle of prime trout fishing country. I'm not sure whether they class themselves as Welsh or English, since the fishery appears to straddle the border.
The fishery sits in a beautiful tree-lined valley alongside the River Ceiriog, which feeds the fish farm and the lakes with a plentiful supply of crystal clear, cold running water to keep the trout healthy all year round.
How long has Chirk Fishery been around?
The fishery's lakes were dug in the 1990s, but the Chirk Fish Farm which lies a couple of hundred metres upstream, has been on the site for over 50 years.
The fish farm breeds all of its own fish, instead of buying in fingerlings like some other fisheries, and produces beautiful rainbow trout, blue trout, brown trout, brook trout and the odd tiger trout, too.
This means the fish stocked in Chirk's lakes are all reared in the same water and have only travelled a short distance, so they're healthy, they fight hard and they look stunning.
How many lakes are there?
There are two lakes at Chirk. The upstream lake is fly only but the downstream one is for both fly fishers and children (and parents) who want to fish for trout with bait.
What are the lakes like at Chirk?
Both lakes and the grounds in which they are set are beautifully kept. The water is crystal clear, aquatic weed growth is kept under good control and the banks are kept well clear to give fly fishers plenty of room to backcast.
Although there's a road running alongside the fishery it's not that busy or noisy and it's hidden from view by the many trees that line the fishery. It's a really beautiful setting and is one of the most attractive small still water fisheries I've been to.
What facilities are there?
There's a small car park at the front of the fishery and a small lodge which stocks snacks and drinks and small bits of tackle. There's also a toilet, plenty of picnic benches dotted around the banks and a little shelter in which to take cover should the weather take a turn for the worse.
What are the staff like?
We were made to feel very welcome on our visit and the fishery manager couldn't have been much nicer. He gave us a cut price deal on a ticket for myself and George (aged 7) and even threw in a free bag of sweets, which kept him extra happy.
Tips and advice on where to go and what techniques to try were freely offered and George even got twenty minutes of one to one tuition and tips. He even loaned George a float rod and some bread to help him catch an extra trout and some perch on the bait pool, which really cheered him up.
We got a warm farewell as we left and a loyalty card including a free four hour ticket each, which was a nice touch and is sure to mean we go back again. Outstanding customer service, I reckon.
What's the fishing like?
Chirk is stocked mainly with smaller trout. The bait lake contains fish of up to a pound, with the odd larger fish. The fly only lake is stocked with fish from one to six pounds. Most of the fish we caught were in the pound to pound and a half range and were in pristine condition.
Conditions were tough when we went - it was a warm, sunny day, but we both caught several trout and plenty of perch, so we had a great time. I'm sure it would be a lot less challenging when the weather was more favourable.
The water is crystal clear so you need to fairly stealthy when walking around the banks as the fish can see you from a long way off. On the plus side, this also means you can sight fish for individual fish and it's also great for kids, because they can see the fish they're trying to catch.
Would you recommend Chirk Fishery for children?
Definitely. It's one of the best trout fisheries I've been to for younger fly fishers and is keen to attract juniors. Although it was quiet on the day we visited, two other families came along with their small children to fish the bait lake and all appeared to have a great time catching tea to take home to mum.
What gear should I take?
This is a small stillwater and is relatively sheltered, so you'll probably be fine with a 4 or 5 weight rod in good weather conditions. We used four weights on our trip on a breezy summer's day and got on fine - most of the fish are a pound or so, so this sort of rod size is quite adequate.
A floating line will be fine here as the water is fairly shallow. Use a longish leader, ideally of fluorocarbon as the water is crystal clear.
Small natural patterns, including nymphs and dries were working very well for us (the perch also loved them. There's plenty of fly life, including lots of damselflies, so damsel fly nymph patterns can also work well in the summer months.