Four of us headed off to the River Wye for the last time this year. Our trip coincided with a sudden influx of water which saw a 5ft rise over the previous 24 hour period. The river was still in good enough nick though and one advantage of the extra water is that the steep banks become less of a problem with the higher water levels.
Brian soon settled into his peg and demonstrated the value of having a comfortable set up. The fish had to wait for their breakfast!
On what proved to be a tricky day for us, Charlie had the best fish - a Barbel of 7lb 11oz.
My only Barbel was much smaller at around four and a half pounds, but it saved me what looked like being a blank.
I was also looking after Mark, with the aim of helping him shed his Barbel virginity. He did connect with a fish in the last hour, but he failed to land it. Brian blanked.
The next day saw us return in much colder conditions than we'd anticpated. Having cleared the ice from our vehicles, it was still barely above freezing on arrival. A beautiful day eventually emerged, although some of our party were struggling to appreciate its splendour.
For me it turned into a gruelling blank in terms of Barbel. I spent an hour or so piling in maggots through a feeder in the hope of drawing some greedy Chub into the swim, but all I could attract was Dace. Charlie didn't fish much and instead devoted time to helping Mark catch his first Barbel from the banker peg much further downstream. The mission was accomplished late in the day when he caught a small Barbel of about 4lbs. Mark was rather happy, but sadly I wasn't near enough to get a photo.
The final word went to Brian who banked a cracking Barbel after I'd gone walkabouts in search of Pike on a lure. I got a text saying "I'm in" and despite being about 400 yards away, he'd still barely just got it in when I arrived back. It had given him a hell of a battle and he was claiming a double figure fish. I doubted it (always the pessimist!) on the basis that most Wye Barbel I've seen have been on the long, lean, athletic side.
How wrong I was though and when I lifted the scales they went further than I thought. It just slipped into double figures and I credited Brian with 10lb 3oz - a personal best and a decent fish for the Wye.
Although not a very productive trip for me, it was good to see a couple of our party achieve some personal milestones. We'll be back for more next year.