A return to the Wye is always something to look forward to. Generally the fishing is good and certainly the views are worth the trip, even if the fishing is a bit lackluster. There are always good opportunities to spot plenty of wildlife, particularly bird-life, so pack your copy of the RSPB Handbook of British Birds and you’ll be crossing off all sorts of species from the list. We often spot plenty of deer too and there are always a few rabbits or hares to add to the mix. The strange thing is I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fox in the Wye Valley but there must be a few I’m guessing.
This particular trip was made with Danny and Pete. We were heading to Hereford for a couple of days, hoping to find the river in good sorts. It’s been very dry over recent weeks and the river was actually quite low and clear. At least that gives me an opportunity to get into the water and explore some swims. The breathable chest waders means I don’t sweat my whatsits off in these hot, dry summer days. You can buy some reasonable breathable chest waders now pretty cheaply and they are definitely worth the money. Avoid the neoprene waders in the summer at all cost. They are hard work and you’ll be soaked through with sweat.
The two guys found their chosen spots and I headed off to a lower section where I could get the waders on and get out into the river. I waded out with some 6mm and 8mm caviar pellets. The idea was to put some loose feed out and watch and see what happens. I managed to reach a large slab of bedrock about mid river. The water was gin clear, there was barely a ripple on the water and the sun was out making fish spotting very easy. Obviously a pair of polarized sunglasses are essential to cut out the surface glare of the water and see clearly through to the the riverbed.
Once out in the river I spotted a deeper cut in the bedrock in front of me. I noticed some chub up on the shallow bedrock just downstream. I fed out a couple of small handfuls of mixed caviar pellets and soon the chub were darting about chasing the loosefeed. I kept tricking in the pellets and soon a couple of barbel appeared, heads down, tails up feeding on the bait. After 15 minutes there was a healthy mixture of barbel and chub in front of me, probably no more than 8-10 feet away. Visibility was perfect and I could see unhindered the fish reacting to the introduced pellets.
I waded back to shore and grabbed a rod with a light feeder and a couple of 8mm pellets glued onto the hair. I swung the feeder out onto the adjacent lump of bedrock and threw out some more pellets. The barbel were soon hoovering up the bait and I could see my feeder in among the feeding fish. Suddenly the rod top wrapped round in a frenzied take from a barbel. As I guided the fish to the waiting net, I could see the orange fins and the powerful tail kick, as the barbel surged off into the fast flowing river. After a few minutes I managed to net the fish and slipped the barbless hook out very quickly returning the fish to the flow. It powered off and disappeared among the bedrock.
This was quite exciting fishing. There were plenty of chub darting around too, often taking the freebies as they hit the water surface. A couple of big chub followed that first barbel but then things went quiet. Around 5 or 6 yards away I could see the barbel flashing. I cast out a bit further and kept getting sharp knocks on the rod top but nothing really hittable. I swapped the feeder for a lead but that made no difference, the sharp bites kept coming. I tried a couple of the triple ssg shots and bounced a bait down among the rocks and that produced a couple more chub but the barbel were being very cautious.
I decided to have a break and wondered up to see how Dan and Pete were getting on. It seemed things were pretty slow with them too. After a cuppa and a bite to eat, I left them to it again. I decided to wade out on top of the bedrock to around 3/4 of the way across. I now discovered a deep depression in the bedrock, which looked about 3 feet deep. I could see a number of chub and barbel stationed here and they seemed completely at ease with my presence. Again I fed some pellets and they were soon hoovering up the free offerings.
I waded back, grabbed the rod and was soon in position again this time armed and dangerous! I swung out a feeder into this new spot and the rod top whacked over very quickly. I managed to tempt 3 barbel from here and a couple more nice chub. Then the barbel moved out. I tried a few other spots but lost 2 barbel to hook-pulls and then the fishing completely died. The barbel seemed to be a bit wary or maybe they were just not feeding hard. I wouldn’t say they really spooked from the swim, even with a hook bait in place, so perhaps they just weren’t on it today. Nevertheless it had been a very interesting and educational day, watching the fish up close and how little they seemed afraid of my presence in the water.
Hopefully I’ll be returning to the Wye soon but a more pressing engagement awaits; the mighty river Trent.