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Posts Tagged ‘Grayling fishing on the Wye’


It’s that time of the year again.  After a long and reasonably dry summer the winter has finally arrived and what a mixed bag of weather conditions we’re having.  We’ve had loads of rain over the last month which has caused a certain amount of flooding in places.  Then a severe drop in temperatures has put cold rain into the rivers and made the fishing a little difficult, to say the least.  However with luck things will settle down and we can get on with some decent fishing.

November brings not only frosts, it also signals our annual trip to mid Wales for some grayling fishing.  Things have been looking considerably iffy weather wise.  The Wye has been over the banks in places during the last couple of weeks and we were keeping our fingers crossed that conditions would settle down prior to our mid November trip.   They did but only for a few days.  It always amazes me at how forecasts can change so quickly and so dramatically in a very short space of time.  Still it is called Mother Nature and we all know why! 🙂  Despite the forecast indicating that conditions should be just about spot on from Monday onwards, by the time we arrived a change was in the air.  We were met by rain on arrival, although that was expected.  In fact things improved quite quickly at first.  It was nearly lunchtime by the time we were able to commence fishing.  During the afternoon the sun came out briefly and the whole of the valley was ablaze with autumnal colour.  The hills and trees were resplendent in the sunshine, a mix of rich colours of varying hues.  It at least offered a temporary respite from the harsh conditions that were to follow.

The Wye

The Wye

It proved a tough afternoon.  Between Geoff, Dan and myself I think we had just 5 or 6 grayling, despite targeting swims that have always produced good catches in the past.  Even Kevin’s banker swim proved fickle with only 9 grayling coming to the net, although the best was a 2lb fish.  So that first few hours of our trip proved arduous but we were confident that with a settled spell of weather ahead, we would soon be amongst the fish.  How wrong we were!

The following morning we switched on the news, eager to see what lay ahead of us.  That delightful young girl on the local news channel beamed broadly in that enchanting way that they do and informed us that basically the forecast had changed and it was going to be shite.  She didn’t quite put it like that but that was how it translated.  And yet she did it with such feminine guile that we were almost grateful! 🙂

Snow was falling as we watched from the comfort of a warm sitting room.  Hot cups of teas and coffees steaming quietly which remarkably seem to ease the burden of what we were witnessing.  Still snow we could cope with.  It was rain that would be our downfall, yes that old arch enemy of the seasoned grayling angler.  High and coloured water is the kiss of death for this species and things were not looking good.  Tuesday night and Wednesday morning were now going to consist of high winds and heavy rains sweeping in across Wales.  Not only that, the rain was due to last the best part of 10-12 hours.  I think ‘bugger’ pretty much sums up our feelings at this point.  Originally the weather had looked very promising.  There was some rain forecast for Wednesday but nothing Biblical like this.  And oh boy did it rain.

Still Tuesday morning saw us tucking into a very hearty Welsh breakfast, as always provided by our excellent hosts Richard and Jane.  The accommodation provided is of a very high standard and Richard is always happy to contact his friends for us to locate beats of rivers that normally wouldn’t be available to fish.  They really are the perfect hosts and nothing is too much trouble. I can’t recommend them highly enough: www.pwllgwilym-cottages.co.uk

Pwllgwilym Cottages

Pwllgwilym Cottages

After breakfast we headed off to try the upper Severn around Newtown.  We haven’t fished in this area before but with the Severn producing some quality grayling fishing recently we felt it was time to check it out for ourselves.  The drive up was incredible.  With snow on the ground and then then the sun breaking through the clouds we witnessed perhaps the most stunning views we have ever encountered.  The drive from llandrindod Wells to Newtown winds its way up through the surrounding hills on the A483 and presents you with the most spectacular panoramic view of the surrounding valley, which is quite simply breathtaking. My only regret is we didn’t find somewhere to park so we could take some photos of this incredible view.

Upper Severn

Upper Severn

After wandering through Newtown we eventually found the tackle shop.  We managed to glean a certain amount of information from the owner, purchase the day tickets and get to the river.  Just above the footbridge we found the river to be deep and slow.  It certainly didn’t look like your typical grayling river.  However as we explored further upstream we discovered a much more enticing section.  Here the flow was much swifter and clean gravel could be seen in the shallower depths.  We were soon tackled up and fishing away.  The sun occasionally broke through the dark clouds and was interspersed with sporadic rain and snow showers.  However when the sun did break through, the surrounding trees sparkled in the winter sun.  There were just so many colours to see; coppers, browns, golds, reds and so many hues it was stunning.  It seems autumn is late this year and we were treated to one of Mother Natures finest spectacles.

Anyway back to the fishing.  It was getting late already, we didn’t commence fishing until around 12pm which was much later than we had hoped.  Because of the delay we really had to get a move on.  I had hoped to try out the Pallatrax small hydrated snails and Bloodworm and Maggot Crush groundbait today but in the rush left them in the car, which was now about a mile away from where we were fishing.  Although disappointed, I thought there would be further opportunities to put this promising bait to the test later in the week so carried on regardless.  The run I was fishing was much deeper than I at first expected.  This area was below some shallow water and dropped quite dramatically into a deep gulley.  The bottom was gravel and there was little evidence of weed.  The depth was around 6 feet and shallowed up after around 15 yards and so offered a decent trot.  First trot through and the float disappeared.  A quick, sharp strike connected to the unseen culprit.  It stayed deep and the occasional thump, thump was clearly felt as the fish headed upstream.  Then as quickly as it came it went, as the hook and fish parted company.  Still it was encouraging.  A few more trots through provided me with a couple of small grayling and a few trout.  Sport at least but I was hoping for something a little bigger.  Geoff reported a complete lack of action in his chosen spot, whilst Kevin had found a swim with some good grayling in.  He took around 14 in the end to just shy of 2lbs.

Jammed packed with nutrients - Pallatrax Bloodworm and Maggot Crush

Jammed packed with nutrients – Pallatrax Bloodworm and Maggot Crush

Pallatrax Baits

Pallatrax Baits

My day provided slow but steady sport.  I kept changing depths and baits in an effort to entice more bites.  However the fish liked the bait on the bottom and held back slightly.  By the end of the afternoon I had taken 9 grayling to around 1lb 6oz and 9 trout to around 2lb 8oz.  I lost 1 grayling at the net and a couple of big trout.  Geoff only managed 2 grayling and I think a trout.  As the light faded we decided to call it a day and head back to the cottage.  Danny had opted to remain on the Wye today and fished the town section.  Despite only fishing for a few hours after a certain amount of trials and tribulations, he managed a decent net of mainly trout plus a number of nice grayling to around 1lb 8oz.  So he was happy with that and had some entertaining stories to recount about his numerous trips to and from the river, collecting things he’d forgotten to bring or lost along the way!

The weather forecast that evening proved grim viewing. It seemed very heavy rain was definitely moving in early hours and would remain until Wednesday lunchtime. Still despite this we thought we’d actually give it a go on the Wednesday.  The rain eased off by late morning with the sun braking through the gloom and so we headed to the town section of the Wye.  However not only was the weather shocking, there were two anglers in the spot we had hoped to fish.  What is the world coming too, I ask you?!  What a bloody cheek.  Two blokes in our swim.  Bring back the birch, hard labour and yes, even the death penalty for people like this.  However the river was rising even as we fumed at our misfortune.  The levels crept over the banks and started to spill into the trees.  The river had that muddy look and it was like a cabbage broth made with leaves, and I mean millions of leaves.  Every cast resulted in a hooked leaf.  Brown ones, red ones, yellow ones, every conceivable colour and shape and all on the end of my hook at one point (pun intended 🙂 ) or another.   Incredibly I actually hooked a fish, which typically and in good old “that’s just my bloody luck” type fashion, twisted and shed the hook after a few seconds.

It was time to go.  The fishing was by now almost impossible and I had to keep moving my tackle (ooh er missus) to stop it from being submerged in a quickly rising river.  It seemed appropriate that night to indulge in a little ‘surf and turf’ at the excellent local hostelry.  A big sirloin steak, scampi and some superb  tempura prawns with chips, mushrooms, onion rings and tomatoes helped to settle me down after such a trying day.  Oh and of course a pint of the local bitter helped too.

The next day was a right off.  The river was bank high and heavily coloured although the Irfon looked much better. It was still high but seemed to lack the murky colour that ruins grayling fishing.  We had expected to call it a day and head home early, however we now felt we might just squeeze in the last day on the Irfon.  As we’d come all this way it was worth taking the chance.

Sadly the final day didn’t live up to our expectations. The river was remarkably clear despite the amount of rainfall, however it was a little high and pushing through.  We explored around a mile and a half of beautifully wild water and yet we couldn’t muster a bite.  The sun had come out today and the whole place was awash with every conceivable colour and hue.  It was a stunning spot to end our visit.   We persevered until around mid afternoon and by the end 3 of us had caught a solitary grayling each.  They were all over a pound with the biggest around 1lb 12oz but that was it.  It was time to say goodbye to Powys and head home.

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At last we were heading back to the beautiful valleys of Wales.  We love this area of Mid Wales.  The scenery is breathtaking, the people are very friendly and helpful and the fishing can be amazing.

As you are aware the weather in the run up to Mid February was looking a bit iffy, to say the least.  We had heavy rain followed by a couple of spells of fairly substantial snow fall and then rain again.  The end result was a lot of snow melt and more flooded rivers.  We were beginning to get a little worried that our planned trip could well be a disaster.  Luckily the fishing Gods smiled down on us and the conditions stabilised about a week prior to our departure.  We kept a close eye on the forecast (which was looking pretty good the closer the trip came) and the river levels seemed to be improving all of the time.  It seemed this time around we were at last due a good week.

The Wye

The Wye

The usual array of tackle was loaded into the car, trailer and roof box.  The more space we seem to have the more we fill it up with additional gear.  We never quite seem to have enough room.  Still we were on our way.  The M25 and M4 were as delightful as ever, at times they appear to be Europe’s finest car parks!  We had our traditional stop at Membury Services for a hearty breakfast.  So after re-mortgaging the house and a double dose of indigestion tablets to try and keep it all down, we began the final leg to Powys.  It was slow going unfortunately and after being on the road for about 6 hours, we eventually arrived at our destination!

We were keen to get down to the river.  We had our fingers crossed that the river would be in good sorts and I’m pleased to say we were not disappointed.  The Wye was at a good level, probably slightly up and a good colour for grayling fishing.  As we walked down to the river the low clouds shrouded the surrounding hills in mist and we could have almost been in the Himalayas.  The place takes on an almost mystical look when the conditions are like this and I was secretly hoping that the Dalai Lama might turn up and bless me with a mythical ability to catch a prodigious amount of very large grayling.  Sadly he didn’t show up and neither did the very large grayling.

The Welsh Hills

The Welsh Hills

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but February can be a bit tricky for grayling.  From around mid to late Feb they start to shoal up, so you have to find the shoals to get a decent catch of fish.  On this first day all of the regular haunts seemed devoid of grayling, despite the fact that normally we can catch large numbers of fish from these spots with great consistency.

My efforts were proving rather poor and I had this horrible feeling that the other three were probably bagging up.  After a quick check with them, I found that we were all struggling with barely a bite, let alone a fish caught.  In situations like this you have to explore each area bit by bit and use the float as a exploratory tool (Oh er missus) to see if you can locate some fish.  You need to fish different lines in the swim and control the speed of the float to allow a slightly varied presentation of the bait to try and gauge where the fish are and how they want the bait presented.  As any float angler knows that by using different weight floats and altering your set-up slightly (bulking of shot higher or lower, stringing shot out, or altering the proximity of the dropper shots to the hook) you can very greatly the passage of the float and more importantly the baits progress downstream.  Sometimes holding back really hard and just allowing it to almost inch through the swim can be the only way to get a bite, whilst at other times they seem to like a fairly regular speed to take the bait.  Keep playing until you get results.

Dolly Country

Dolly Country

As the afternoon wore on the sun poked its head out and the surrounding hills were lit up in spectacular fashion by the sun’s rays.  It was still freezing though but the clear blue skies and sunshine certainly helps to cheer you up after such a long spell of dreary, grey conditions. I kept wandering and altering my approach and eventually hooked a fish, which promptly came off.  I saw the fish and it was a grayling, so at last I had at least found some fish and induced a bite.  I continued in this spot for some time and caught a couple of average sized grayling and a nice chub of about 3lbs or so.  Sadly though that was it.  It had proved to be a tough opening day with Dan biteless and Geoff graylingless.  Not the best start we’ve had and yet conditions looked ideal.

Well keep a welcome in the hillside.

Well keep a welcome in the hillside.

Still we had a warm welcome from our wonderful hosts Richard and Jane at the cottage and booked in for one of their amazing breakfasts the following morning, so things were looking up! 🙂

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