Sometimes the summer slips by too soon or just never seems to really heat up, this year it seems to be a case of both. So when a fellow piscator friend of mine invited me for three days on the Wye, I grabbed the opportunity for a late summer session.
I’m lucky, as the spot on the Wye near Hereford belongs to my friend’s parents. I spent a week there last year so I knew what to expect and more importantly I knew this stretch of the Wye.
A Georgian house sits one hundred meters back from the river, where a large sloping garden meanders down through an orchard and then through some over-grown shrubbery to the river bank. This makes fishing very comfortable, a cast or two for a few hours then back up to the house for diner, a glass of wine (or two) and then returning to the river, grabbing a few plums along the way and back to our quarry, barbel.
My approach to fishing is simple, anything held in the hand is traditional the rest i.e the terminal end is completely modern, for me it makes sense.
Rods were held high using very long bank sticks, bites are so severe that the bend in the rod or a ‘churner’ from the reel is enough to tell you a fish is hooked, at night Starlites were attached to the rod tip. No bite alarms, simple.
Traditionalist look away now! The terminal end consists of PVA bags, hair rigs, pellets, boillies, braided hook links and chemically edged wide gape hooks when presenting a bait. The general technique on the Wye was to use two small 8mm pellets, hair rigged with a PVA mesh bag attached containing 4mm pellets, this was cast out on most occasions.
Traditionalist, you can look back now!
Rod and reel consisted of an Allcocks Carp Superb and a Mitchel 410. Cane rods fit well in a natural environment and performs just how I need them to, soft on the strike but as the cane loads with pressure it comes to a stop and then becomes a powerful tool to land bigger fish, this is certainly true on the Wye and the barbel.
Fishing for three days undisturbed, allows you to approach the whole experience in a different light, as you have time on your side.
Firstly, building up a swim can be done methodically adding ground bait in certain areas, resting them for half a day. The theory is that smaller fish arrive instantly and hoover up the smaller ‘cloud’ of ground bait, the activlty from the smaller fish attract the larger fish which move in and start feeding on the bigger offerings in the ground bait mix. At this point after allowing the swim to ‘rest’ another bombardment of ground bait is delivered along with a hook bait. This baiting technique leaves the barbel competing for food and then it’s just a case of waiting…
Also, a three day session can allow you to really get to know the river as the day progresses, observing patterns with the fauna, a peregrine hovers at dusk over the opposite bank for small mammals or possibly a chance sighting of a fish. Salmon were leaping at night although at times it was hard to distinguish between salmon or a carp, either way the splashes created were immense. On one occasion we saw a salmon leap in the late afternoon, it’s silver and pink flanks defining it’s status.Understanding the feeding patterns of the barbel was our priority and it seemed on this trip the evenings were most productive. At night we had some success with the barbel but generally it did tail off and the chub moved in. Fishing during the day was slower but still resulted in a few barbel including one I had on the last morning, I had a hunch to get up and have a final go and literally on the last cast caught a lovely seven pound specimen, a nice ending to the trip.
Three days resulted in some great fish all in pristine condition and all hard fighting, no rods were lost although it was close on a few occasions. The Wye is a great river to fish, in summer it generally glides past but as the autumn rains start it can quickly become quite a brown torrent of fast flowing water, my return to the Wye will hopefully be in October when the river becomes a little more angry…