Day 4 of our Wye odyssey saw us back on a Wye and Usk beat and one that has produced big numbers of fish for us in the past. I headed to the cribs with fellow Lone Angler team mate Marcus Joy. Marcus was due to go home around lunchtime and I foolishly told him he’d have a few before he left, such was my confidence in the swim we were going to fish. Sadly no one told the fish! The swim is a beautiful gravel bend, which slowly shallows towards the far bank, with a deep run off of the crib. It looks perfect and screams barbel.
I stuck to my usual tactics I had used for the week; a long coated braid hook link, 2 x 8mm pellets and a small hook. The feeder was packed with groundbait and lots of pellets and out it went. Marcus fished downstream and I fished upstream. We both kept trying different lines until we managed to connect with a barbel. By the time Marcus left around 2.30pm he’d had 2 and I had managed to bank 4 plus a couple of nice chub. Geoff then joined my on the crib for the remainder of the day.
The fishing improved, particularly once i changed my hook to a size 14 barbless and used 2 x 6mm caviar pellets. I was now getting much more action. Geoff fished upstream and I fished downstream. Later on in the day Geoff noticed that every time his feeder dislodged and moved it elicited a bite. So I started to touch leger again and lift the rod tip occasionally to move the feeder. At one point I can honestly say as I lifted the rod, I felt the bait pop out of a barbels mouth, only for it to pounce on the bait once it moved. It certainly made for some exciting fishing. By the end of the day I had managed 14 barbel to just under 8lbs and quite a few chub to 4lb 4oz. Geoff finished on 12 for the day, although 4 of those were from further upstream.
I now felt that the 6mm pellets would out fish larger baits, so on the last day that would be my tactics. We headed back to Hereford for our final session. Today was one of those red letter days you so often read about and think “why not me?”. It was a bonanza catch of barbel and chub and right from the word go. Geoff and I started out sharing a swim. I fished upstream and Geoff down. My first cast produced almost instant results with a nice chub and then a baby barbel. I love seeing these small barbel; they reaffirm how healthy the Wye is for fish stocks. Soon I’d had 6 barbel including a stunning 9lb 2oz fish and chub to 4lb 11oz. At this point Geoff and I swapped places. He was now fishing upstream and me down. It made no difference to my catch rate and soon I was up to 13 barbel, whilst Geoff had taken 2. I think the small hookbaits were really paying off but I also believe the fish had become preoccupied on the caviar pellets.
Geoff even cast back downstream in an effort to prove the point. No bites were forthcoming and yet my first cast back into position produced an instant bite. The power of the caviar strikes again. Geoff opted to move and ended the day on a creditable eight barbel but included a stunning fish of 10lb 3oz. It was one of the nicest barbel I’ve seen and Geoff was over the moon. Meanwhile my action continued unabated. Every cast was met with whacks on the rod top. By now the swim was simply crawling with fish. Sadly as the day wore on and the fish just kept coming I ran out of groundbait and swapped to a straight lead. This certainly slowed up the results. However by the end of the day I’d managed to land a total of 31 barbel and probably 25-30 chub! I would say half of the barbel were 7lb plus and I had half a dozen chub over 4lbs. Unfortunately my biggest chub, which looked well over 5lbs, flipped back into the water whilst I was getting ready to weigh it! Still never mind. It was a day to remember and only the second time I’ve managed more than 30 barbel in a day. The fish were stunning as was the setting. It’s what makes the Wye the theatre of dreams.