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Fly casting champion Hywel’s mission to promote fishing in Wales

Hywel Morgan demonstrates his expert fly casting skills.

Former world and European fly casting champion Hywel Morgan says the first GWCT Welsh Game Fair in September will provide a platform to showcase fishing in Wales to an international audience.

The GWCT Welsh Game Fair will be held at the Vaynol Estate, near Bangor from September 9-11 and Hywel says the setting, with a large lake in front of the iconic mansion, could not be better for fishing.

Hywel, from Pontrhydfendigaid, near Aberystwyth, is baffled why thousands of anglers drive through Wales every year to catch a ferry to go fishing in Ireland when his homeland has some of the best wild brown trout rivers and lakes in the UK.

“I am keen to ensure that there is a really good fishing presence at GWCT Welsh Game Fair to promote the availability of angling in Wales,” he said. “For some reason, most anglers travel through Wales to go fishing in Ireland.

“It’s about time the people of Wales started shouting about what we have here. The GWCT Welsh Game Fair is an ideal opportunity for us to inform and educate people.

“We probably have some of the best rivers and remote lakes for wild brown trout fishing in the whole of the UK.”

In partnership with The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), the GWCT Welsh Game Fair – www.welshgamefair.org – is being organised by Stable Events Ltd, which also organises The Game Fair in Warwickshire and The GWCT Scottish Game Fair in Perthshire,

Money raised at the Welsh event will support the GWCT’s charitable work and give a welcome boost to the region, with tourism and visitors contributing to the local economy.

Fishing, clay shooting, gundogs, game cookery, falconry, horses and hounds, as well as rural crafts, food and drink will feature at the event, which is expected to attract people passionate about the countryside, country pursuits and conservation.

Hywel, the son of famous Welsh angler the late Moc Morgan, first picked up a fishing rod when he was 18 months old and was just three when he began fishing the upper reaches of the River Teifi.

“I don’t remember the first fish I caught because I was too young,” he said. “I can remember my dad carrying me across the rushes on the Teifi Pools to put me on the side of the lake.

“In my teens, I got into seatrout fishing and would spend five nights a week on the Ystwyth.”

Hywel entered his first fly casting competition at the age of 12 and was soon winning prizes at the CLA Game Fair. In fact, he became so successful that he won most of the fly casting competitions at the event for three years running and was politely asked to stop entering!

He then devoted eight months to intensive fly casting practice of up to eight hours a day which ultimately paid off when he became European and world champion.

He now fishes competitions with the Ospreys Fly Fishing Club and travels the UK teaching anglers and giving fly casting demonstrations across the UK. He also regularly appears on TV and writes for several angling publications.

Recognising the need to engage more young people in fishing, Hywel’s mission is  to get children off computer games and outside in the fresh air beside a river or lake.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has been good for fishing because a lot of people have had more time on their hands and have rediscovered angling,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to escape and clear your mind.

“Fishing is one of the best ways to de-stress. It can be frustrating at times, but it’s escapism. It takes you to wild places that most Welsh people would never see.”

Visitors to The GWCT Welsh Game Fair can take the opportunity to pick up a rod to try fishing for the first time. As well as fishing, the GWCT Welsh Game Fair will feature clay shooting, gundogs, game cookery, falconry, horses and hounds, as well as rural crafts, food and drink.

Leading Welsh celebrity chef and author Bryn Williams, orginally from Denbigh, will be creating a bespoke menu for guests at the White Park Restaurant in a VIP Enclosure, sponsored by Clogau Gold and taking part in live, open-air cooking demonstrations throughout the weekend.

A keen shooter and novice fly fisherman, Bryn is chef patron of Odette’s in Primrose Hill and at Porth Eirias, a beach-front restaurant, café and bar at Colwyn Bay.

Visitors can look forward to a wide range of attractions, displays, live debates, shopping at hundreds of trade stands and family entertainment, all with a countryside theme.

The event will bring together representatives from a range of conservation, farming, field sports and fishing bodies for debates on Welsh rural issues.

The aim is to foster greater communication and co-operation between sectors and promote the benefits of country pursuits and conservation to a wider audience.