Monday, 10 October 2011

Return to the Wye

I seem to have slipped into the habit of infrequent blogging. A lack of fish remains the driving force behind it and I really haven't been able to summon up the enthusiasm to describe more dross filled fishing experiences.

Since the last blog I've had a couple of cracks at College Pool to see if I could sneak out one of the bigger Carp or Bream. The first session descended into farce and nearly ended up very costly.

I'd had two set ups on the go - one with maggot and the other with pellet/bread/corn. The maggot rod yielded nothing but Perch after Perch until I eventually connected with something solid that tore off across the pool towards Wellesbourne at high speed. I couldn't stop it on the rig I was using and to cut the story short, the fish won the battle and snagged me up.

Later on in the session I had just recast the other rod baited with corn, when I turned back to the maggot rod to check it out. Just as I'd picked up the rod, I saw the corn rod fly off the rod rest and was on it's way down the bank and heading towards the waiting abyss. I had to perform a save that Gordon Banks would have been proud of, diving off my box and just managing to grasp the very end of the rod butt at the second attempt. If I'd been a second later, the rod was water bound.

The fish was on and although the clutch was set, it either failed to engage properly or the spool must have got caught up on the bankside. The end result was that the fish smashed me up before I could get my hands on the reel to engage the anti reverse. I called it a day and went home with another spanking from this pool.

I returned a week later around midday to find crazily hot October conditions. I removed the maggot approach, as the small Perch were a pain in the arse the previous week. I alternated bread, pellet, corn and boilie across two rods. Apart from bumping off a suspected Bream, nothing else was doing. When everyone else had gone home, I went on a walkabout to see if I could pluck a Carp off the surface. I was a little more successful with that approach and I had a couple of Mirror Carp out - one around 6lb and the other going 7lb 8oz.

The next week saw me off to the River Wye for a highly anticipated trip with Brian and Charlie. I'd booked up 2 different stretches - one on the upper river and the other down in the middle reaches.

Day 1 saw us above Hay-On-Wye and the plan was to seek out a Grayling, along with Dace and Chub. There was extra water on the river but it was pefectly fishable and the scenery was stunning.

Bites from the Dace came fairly quickly and I had a succesion of them around the 4oz size. The best I managed was a 5oz fish, which gave me a few extra points for the blogger's challenge.

The surprise of the day came in the form of a Bream, which seemed to take a liking for the fast, shallow water. At 6lb 1oz it gave me an extra bonus point too!

I also had a small Brown Trout of about 12oz, although Charlie had a much better sample that was nearer to 2lb.

With no Grayling to be had, we moved up to the faster water towards the end of the session and donned the waders for a bit of trotting.

That didn't work either and I then ended up sitting out the end of the session in the fastest section of all, which was equallly unproductive, but still pleasant on the eye.

Day 2 saw us above Hereford and in the middle of Barbel territory. With no Barbel on my challenge scorecard, I really needed to change that statistic. Otherwise, I'd have to tough it out back on the Avon, or venture further afield to territory I'm not familiar with.

The first swims we settled on did not produce and Charlie ventured up to the next field quite quickly. I stuck it out for a while longer, while Brian opted to sleep on it! Eventually we both made the move up to the next field and settled on an area I was more confident with.

Plenty of Dace were available to a maggot approach, so I hit on the idea of trying to catch a few in the hope of catching a clonker. All the time I was piling in my groundbait/pellet/hemp mix through the feeder, so I was getting a good bed of bait down for a Barbel attack later on. As it turned out, the Dace were of a fairly small stamp with nothing over 3oz. I then reverted back to the pellet approach and sat it out.

It turned into a tough old session and Brian eventually broke the pellet deadlock late in the day with a complete change of approach. He ignored the line he'd been feeding (just on the edge of a crease) for a gung ho chuck towards mid river, with a feeder full of groundbait and a PVA bag of pellets attached to the business end of the rig, With all the baggage on the line, the rod seemed to be creaking as he punched it out.

I have to admit to dismissing the approach, as my only venture into that area of the river earlier in the session resulted in me snagging the bottom and having to replace the hooklength. Bugger me, the next I knew he was into a fish! It wasn't exactly going mad though and we suspected Chub, which turned out to be right. It weighed in at 2lb 11oz.

That changed my way of thinking and I opted for a mid river chuck it and chance it approach. I had to keep one eye behind me though, as the cows (and bull!) were moving in and my rod bag that I'd left on the top of the bank needed rescuing.

Cows and bulls don't really bother me. Apart from having them eat my groundbait in the past, they've never caused me much harm. However, on this occasion I was a little edgy, as one of them was perched a little precariously directly behind me on a steep sloping bank and about 8 foot above my head. With a bull fairly close by I was half expecting the beast to go about his business and send an unsuspecting cow crashing down upon me. With some creative use of the landing net, I persuaded them to move to pastures new.

With an hour to go, I finally hooked into a fish and although I was hoping it was monster Chub, it became apparent that it was a Barbel. The fight was pretty uneventful and I netted a fish of 6lb 12oz. It took a long time to recover - far longer than any I'd caught previously. I honestly feared the worst for it at one point, but with a lot of patience it eventually kicked off into the current.

Charlie took the honours though with his only Barbel, which weighed in at 8lb 8oz.

In case anyone is wondering why a keepnet is shown in the background - it was only used to hold the fish briefly prior to weighing and photographing.

The trip didn't yield everything we'd hoped to catch and I'm beginning to learn that simply turning up to the Wye is no guarantee to catching lots of big fish. I'm learning more with every visit though. I'm also taking some comfort from some of the other reports I've read from the weekend, which suggest we weren't the only ones struggling. Extra water and debris pushing through the river seems to have caused others a few problems too.

As ever, it was a great experience and I'm sure I'll be heading back again next year. It's a magical place to explore whether you catch fish or not. The wildlife alone is a joy and the final memory is of us packing the gear into the van, while listening to an owl hooting away in the tree directly above us. It's a far cry from listening to sparrows squabbling over seed in my back garden!


  1. Love the photos Sean. Did you lose much tackle? I fished the Hay town stretch once and was it a bite a chuck? - no - it was a feeder a chuck ! Only the Ribble beats it for snags.

  2. We were about 4 miles above Hay, near a village called Glasbury. The river bottom was generally OK - and that went for both days. I have read reports of certain areas on the Wye that eat feeders and leads all day long though - luckily I haven't found one of those on my travels yet.

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