Posts Tagged ‘Summer barbel fishing’

The late nights and early mornings certainly take their toll and the fresh air and sunshine seem to add to the morning lethargy. Throw in three blokes all trying to shower, make flasks and sandwiches, sort out tackle etc. etc. first thing in the morning and its not difficult to see why we never get fishing until lunchtime. Mind you we also like to stop for a nice cooked breakfast somewhere too.

On this 4th day of our trip we would be heading above Hereford, so it was a good opportunity to drop into Woody’s after breakfast first. We restocked a few provisions like feeders and after a chat with the man himself, we headed off to our destination for the day. It took us a while to find the stretch but once we were bankside we were greeted with one of the most stunning sections we’ve ever fished. The great thing was the variety of water on offer from deep water and shallow gravels to deep bends and gullies. We even had some lovely deep glides on the nearside to fish and with waders we could do a lot of trotting if we wished.

We spent some time walking the banks and admiring the views and also the isolation of this place. You could stop and listen and all you could hear was birdsong and the occasional canoeist. It was amazing. After a long recce we all had a spot or two in mind to fish. Geoff headed off downstream to fish the deep gravel margins. Large overhanging trees offered dark shadowy cover for the fish. It looked perfect. Meanwhile Kevin and I fancied an area just down from a horseshoe bend where the shallow weedy water dropped into a deep gully on the far bank. Once again there were lots of bankside cover and an almost sheer cliff face opposite where large trees and bushes offered cover to the resident barbel and chub.

I opted for the usual practice of feeder and pellet hookbaits. I varied them as I had all week, from double 12mm or 8mm pellets to single banded ones. If the bites slowed up and I thought fish were present (often receiving sharp short knocks on the rod top indicate barbel not just chub) then I would change tactics and alter the bait presentation. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. A couple of friends were fishing a particularly productive beat recently and were really struggling for bites. I suggested they use two very small elips pellets on the hair, the smaller the better. The change was as instant as it was dramatic. They ended up catching a shed load of barbel that day, so it’s worth making the effort and changing if you feel you should be doing better than you are.

The deep gully ranged from around 8ft down to about 4ft for about 10-15 yards. It was a little snaggy but when aren’t there some nasty snags on the Wye. It can be a tackle graveyard sometimes. Kevin waded out and fed his top area of the swim with some bait whilst I dropped the feeder out on a regular basis to keep the bait going into my bit. Kevin was in almost instantly but the barbel headed into something nasty and the hooklink was severed about halfway up. He soon had a chub on and things were looking good.

I had settled for the shallower area downstream a few yards. Bites were slow coming but soon the rod top whacked round and a stunning barbel was landed. The fish here are a very good average size and the colours are fabulous. The chub are real bruisers too; thick set and strong with a really good average weight. Soon I was catching chub and barbel quite regularly. Kevin lost another barbel and was catching the odd chub. Geoff also reported success with several good sized barbel and chub coming from his area. He decided to stick it out there all day and ended up with a number of chub and 4 barbel.

At the end of the day I had taken 18 barbel to 8lb 8oz and maybe a dozen chub to nearly 5lbs. Kevin seemed to be very unlucky loosing a number of barbel but he did eventually manage 1 or 2 and plenty of chub. We swapped around to make it fair but Kevin was reluctant to give up on his swim without giving it everything. It was strange that there weren’t more fish in his deeper area; they all seemed to be just a few yards further down in the shallower bit I was fishing. Still we’d had a wonderful day and felt very privileged to have fished such a stunning venue. I’m really looking forward to exploring this section again through the summer, there’s just so much to go at here.

On Friday we were fishing Sugwas Court which again is above Hereford, so another trip to Woody’s was in order after a good, hearty breakfast. We have fished here once before with limited success. Kevin fished an area Woody had suggested but we struggled to find the deep gully mentioned. Geoff and I just went for a wander and found a couple of swims that looked good. Geoff moved a few times during the day and I had picked a second swim to fish, if the first failed to produce with an hour or two. I think if you haven’t had any indication within about an hour on the Wye you are better off moving. If the fish are there you’d know about it within that time frame to be honest.

I had found a really deep marginal swim. Above me was a much shallower area that then dropped down to around 6-7 feet with trees to my right. I started off fishing downstream but that failed to produce any knocks within the first 30 minutes and so I opted to fish upstream to the edge of the overhanging trees. The result was almost instant and after maybe 2-3 minutes the rod top whacked round. The result was a barbel just under 8lbs and another followed almost immediately after. Geoff and Kevin hadn’t had much action but at least knew the barbel were feeding.

I stuck with this swim for the remainder of the day. The fishing was slow but followed a strange pattern almost without fail. I would get two bites together within around 5 minutes of each other and then it would go quiet for some time. Sadly I lost a number of fish but ended up landing 9 really nice barbel. Geoff had a few and Kevin a couple of fish too. Part of me wanted to walk up to the second swim to fish which involved wading downstream to enable me to fish a deeper run. Still I’d caught a few fish and left quite happy.

Normally we would be heading home on the Saturday morning but all three of us were taking part in Andrew Poole’s ‘Bag a Barbel Let’s Beat Cancer charity event at Wyelea over the weekend. A report on that will follow.


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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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