"Lobster Fishing in Porth Cadlan"


Ellis Williams pulled on a rope, and up from the bottom of the sea came a lobster pot. A dozen green lobsters appeared through the willow, their claws pointlessly punching in the air. Through a small trapdoor on top of the lobster pot, Ellis pushes his hand through and quickly pulls out a lobster. The lobster tries in vain to catch hold of the ‘enemy’, little realising that he’d soon be far from the shore of Llyn, gracing the table of some grand hotel.



"John Evans Penrhyn" "Ellis Williams Plas Iol, on the left"

Each day from March to September Ellis Williams and John Evans go out of Porth Cadlan, nestled under a high cliff tucked away from sight of house or home. Here they keep their little rowing boat, ‘Star’ that has a small outboard engine on her stern

From Cadlan and the shelter of Maen Gwenonwy they pass by Carreg Chwislan, Ogof Llwyd and on towards the Islands of Ynys Gwylan Fawr and Ynys Gwylan Fach.  Bits of wood float up and down to indicate where the lobster pots are. Ellis Williams and John Evans have about forty pots down and each day they go and inspect them to see if the lobsters have eaten the bait of dogfish meat. The lobsters are gathered and placed in one holding pot, to be used as and when they are needed. There they are safe unless a large eels comes by and kills them, or a stormy sea might wreck the holding pot.

The man who thought of bending willow into a bottle shape was very shrewd. It was easy for the lobster to walk in to the pot, but impossible for him to get out. This device has been used for many, many years to catch this delicious creature. There are differences between lobster pots for example Cornish pots would be no good in Llyn their necks are too wide and the lobsters could escape from them. The willow to make the pots grows in Ellis Williams garden and many an evening Ellis spends his time making new pots as indeed his forefathers did before him. Like his forefathers he fishes the coast from Hell’s Mouth to Bardsey catching Pollack, skate and mackerel.

"Porpoise at Hells Mouth" "Porth Cadlan" "Penrhyn headland and ynys Gwylan"

‘But’ he says’ ‘fishing isn’t what it used to be’. However other fish have come to the shores of Llyn in the form of visitors. During the summer Ellis takes them to see the things that are commonplace to him. The porpoises bobbing up and down around his boat, the seals playing outside Ogof Llwyd (the grey cave) and the seabirds on the Gwylan Islands as well as the birds on the cliffs of Bardsey. The visitors season is a short one though. Back at Porth Cadlan the boat has to be hauled over the rocky shore out of reach of the sea, covered with tarpaulin and kept for another day. A pot of lobsters now has to hauled two miles up the cliff and on to the road where the lorry awaits to take the lobsters to the markets of Liverpool and the cities of the Midlands.


NB Nowadays we’d use the term tourists, but back then it was the visitors that came to Llyn.

(From Y Cymro 1948)

Thanks to Mr M Evans (John Evan’s son) for the newspaper cutting,

to Mr E Williams for the photograph of his father Ellis, and to Andrew Lewis, for the Porpoise in Hells Mouth photo.

If you want to know more about the history of fishing in Llyn take a look at cimwch.com

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