Posts Tagged ‘float fishing on the Wye’

It was that time of the year again.  Can it really be 12 months since our last visit to the Wye Valley for some early summer barbel fishing?  It’s flown by, which is frightening really.  Still they say as you get older the faster the times seems to go and it looks like ‘they’ are right.

The only worry we had was that the barbel may not have spawned by the time we got there.  In fact they did the weekend prior to our arrival.  We suspected that the fishing would be quite slow and looking at reports on BFW and one or two other forums, it looked like pretty slow going indeed.

Still if there is one thing that can make up for some slow fishing, then its the scenery.  The Wye Valley is simply breathtaking.  Rolling hills, thick forests, pasture-land, pretty villages, wonderful cottages and some rustic old pubs all go to make this place so special.  I often sit back and just gaze in wonder at the spellbinding beauty of the Herefordshire countryside.  Throw into this mix some amazing wildlife and its a privilege to have the freedom to be out there enjoying the sights and sounds this country has to offer.

The River Wye

The River Wye

We arrived at the farm around late morning, much earlier than normal, due in the main to a quiet and unusually benign M25.  It didn’t take long to get the caravan and awning set-up and we headed down to the river.  It was the lowest I think I have seen it, certainly for some time anyway.  I had planned on a two pronged attack….float rod to start with and then move onto a feeder later on.

Once the waders were on I headed onto the shallow gravels and opted for a big float, which would hold its line easily.  I wanted to trot the deeper gulley that ran down the opposite bank.  I had decided to feed with 6mm carp pellets and fish a banded 8mm carp pellet on the hook.  The shot was bulked around 12-14″ from the hook and a No 4 dropper shot employed around 4-6″ from the hook.  The float had a nice pronounced tip that would easily be visible at distance.

I initially bait droppered in around 6 medium sized droppers of hemp and a couple of mini pellets and then left the swim for half an hour to hopefully get the fish feeding. Sadly after a couple of hours trotting without so much as a bite, it was becoming obvious that the barbel were either not in residence or simply not interested.  I had hoped to fish the end of the beach area here, but unfortunately there was someone fishing on the opposite bank.  The area lower down had a very deep gully that I thought might hold some fish, especially as the flow is very good here.

Drennan Power Float Rod

Drennan Power Float Rod

Kevin was float fishing above me and Geoff was feeder fishing from the croy slightly further upstream.  All these areas have produced fish in the past but not today.  Geoff decided to walk upstream and I stayed put lower down but switched to the feeder.  I like the Fisky type feeders and use a hemp and halibut groundbait and add pellets of all sizes; 4mm, 6mm, 8mm and a few 12mm elips.  I also sprayed some of  Trefor West’s ‘sausage sizzle’ flavour to the mix for some of that extra bit of magic.

Nothing materialised for me but Geoff came through on the walkie talkie and had caught a couple of fish from the top end.  Enough was enough and I headed up top.  I was loaded up like a sherpa and just about made the hike in one piece. I found a nice swim just above Geoff, who had now caught again.  He continued to catch steadily and the fish seemed to be of a good size and included Geoff’s first Wye double of exactly 10lbs.  In the meantime Kevin and I struggled for bites, despite flanking Geoff on both sides.  He ended up with 10 and Kevin and I had 1 apiece.

Geoff's first Wye double

Geoff’s first Wye double

Still our first barbel of the season had been secured and we looked forward to a wonderful week ahead of us on the river Wye.

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As I sit here eating my porridge, I am just about thawed out from the sub zero conditions of my last grayling trip to Wales. We had temperatures down to -10. I believe the term is brass monkeys.

The heavy snow that fell in Kent Saturday night was a bit of a shocker. I was driving back from a day on the Itchen and was caught in the ensuing blizzard. Most of the trip back was in heavy snow and it was becoming apparent the snow was laying quite quickly. By the time I arrived at Reigate, the motorway was covered. Luckily on reaching the Sevenoaks area, I had managed to get ahead of the snow and arrived home safely.

With a trip planned to Wales for 5 days on the Monday, things were looking a little tricky. On awakening Sunday morning, I found we had had maybe 4-6 inches of the white stuff. Lots of phone calls ensued. It seemed my roads were pretty good. The gritters and ploughs were out in force and the roads from about Swindon onwards looked clear. By the end of the day on Sunday, we had decided to go for it.

We headed over the Severn Bridge and cut across the Brecon Beacons. The Black Mountains were covered in snow but the roads were good and eventually we arrived at our destination. We managed to find a cafe in a small village and stuffed our faces with the local health food. You know the sort of stuff; eggs, bacon, sausages etc etc. Low cholesterol and fat free.

A big grayling

We arrived at the river and hoped it would be in good sorts. It was actually quite coloured and up about a foot from our last visit. Despite this it still looked fishable but it was bitterly cold, however at least snow free. We decided to give it a go and explore the section as best we could. I headed up stream with Dan, whilst Geoff and Kevin opted to go downstream.

It was a tough start. I started out fishing a deep pool. I lost a fish almost first cast and then despite numerous moves, I couldn’t muster a bite. I decided to leave Dan to it and move downstream. Bit by bit I worked my way down to the other two guys and ended up fishing in between them. Kevin had found a few fish and was doing reasonably well, considering the conditions. The area was just off of a bend and was smooth water with a reasonable depth. I think in really cold conditions you will struggle to find grayling in very deep water, they seem to prefer the shallower parts. This area was about 3 foot deep.

Dan does it again

I watched as Kevin landed a few fish but sadly lost several big fish. We couldn’t be certain what they were but he felt confident that they were big grayling. I fished the inside line and trickled in a constant supply of maggots. After a couple of runs through the float buried and I hooked into what felt like a bit of a zoo creature. It quite literally towed me all over the river. It was heavy and very powerful. I decided it must be a decent chub and this stretch does produce some clonkers. The fish broke surface and I caught a quick glimpse of it and it looked like a grayling but I couldn’t be sure. After another spell, again the fish broke surface and I saw that long, sail like dorsal rise out of the water.

It was indeed a big grayling and is why we come to this region. Eventually, after a touch of jelly legs syndrome, I managed to net the fish. It looked huge and as I called for the guys, I was convinced it would be close to 3lbs. I was a little ambitious and on the scales it went 2lb 11oz and 3/4. It was weighed in a small plastic bag and so I settled for 2lb 11oz. It equaled my PB and was a magnificent specimen. I was over the moon. It’s been a long time since I landed a grayling of these proportions and was worth the wait.

2lb 11oz Grayling

We carried on fishing. Kevin ended up with a good tally of fish but sadly lost several very big fish, one close to the net. He estimated the fish to be over 2 1/2 pounds and having seen mine, it’s likely to have been so.

The three of us ended up catching a few but not many, whilst Kevin made double figures I think. It was a tough start. Still we headed off to the cottage for a nice cuppa and some food. Our hosts Jane and Richard were there to welcome us and we booked in for a breakfast with them on the Wednesday morning. They are wonderful hosts and make our stay here all the more special.

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