Coarse Fishing Report By Adam Fisher
December is a month when one can usually grab a bit of time for fishing especially during the Christmas break when, for some, it's a tradition to be armed with a hipflask and a relative who hasn't fished since the same time last year. For others it's a chance to escape the madness! Ok, the conditions were a bit up and down this year but on the whole the reports over the festive period have been disappointingly thin on the ground.
The fish of the month has most certainly been the grayling, especially on the float. 60 odd fish to KK from Newbury from the Stone Catch at Abernant on the 6th, in excess of 20 caught on numerous other occasions. Cefnllysgwynne has remained consistent too and there were several reports of good days there, OB from Gloucestershire catching 12 & 13 on respective visits. Lower down the Wye has been kind to the grayling fisher too - Whitney Court is usually noted for its chub, barbel and pike captures but on the 7th LR from Port Talbot banked 15 grayling. I have heard of the odd one caught further downstream too, with Rob Leather from Ross on Wye catching a 2lb + fish from Wilton Bridge area at the beginning of the month. I wouldn’t advise going out to target them specifically this far down the river but if you approach a pacey and deepening run over gravel, with an open mind on catching dace, chub, bleak etc then you may be fortunate to hook a grayling as the bait can draw a fish up from hundreds of yards downstream.
The start of the month still fished ok for barbel, with a few out at Backney and lower down the river below Ross. After a few heavy frosts though the water temp dropped and so with it the quality of sport. A warm spate came through during the middle of the month and even I had a cast for a winter barbel (to be in Angling Times later in January). I also did a feature on simple pike fishing at Canon Bridge and managed a couple of nice low doubles. The highlight for my pike fishing in December, however, was catching one of a brace of 20's on the day of the "weather bomb". This kind of sudden drop in pressure after a week of high pressure really does turn the pike on.
I did catch a fish that trumped the large pike earlier in the month though, and it was 22lb 3oz less in weight! I was on an annual pilgrimage to the Leen on the Arrow, fishing for grayling and after a good 18" fish weighed at exactly 2lb 15oz, I thought my day couldn't get any better. However, I gave the float several trundling runs along a gravel run that I knew, the float dipped slightly and after an incredible amount of fight for what looked like a 3" leaf skating across the top of the water, I brought to hand a bullhead! It was a magical little thing that opened its gob and gave me a right telling off for removing it from its home. After a quick snap, he was returned no worse for wear.
One fish that will feed right through the season is the chub and I've heard reports of a few quality fish (6lb +) out along the lower river. We don't often hear reports from Preston Court but it's a great fishery with plenty of pike lies and some good chub spots too, it seems. DJB from West Midlands caught 6 chub to 4 1/2lbs on good old fashioned bread, a top bait for chub even on a cold winter day. If you haven't tried Preston Court before I highly recommend it. There have been plenty of new swims created and it's the sort of water you just never know what will turn up. Towards the end of the month the river has been hit and miss - up and coloured, then dropping but cold. You could have fished for barbel, pike, chub or grayling in the last week and this was proven in the catch returns when 4 barbel and 7 chub were caught at Backney on the 23rd for JP from Woking. Less than a week later KM caught 4 pike to 22lbs from the very same stretch.
Prospects? Keep an eye on the weather as a cold flood can appear from heavy frosts melting in the Welsh hills. The upper river and the Irfon drop fast though, so don't be too despondent by any recent lift in water levels - anything under 0:78m on the Cilmery gauge leaves the Irfon safely fishable. On the Wye, anything below the red line on the Llanstephan webcam leaves Gromain and Abernant fishable to the float. Flood water from this high up the catchment often has good clarity too, and so beats above Hereford (upstream of the Lugg) can still be fishable with a bit of extra flow on. Good luck whatever you fish for and please keep the catch returns coming in. Last but not least ... RL where's my medal?
R. L. from Lower Lydbrook, Monday 1 December, 2014
Area: Wye - Irfon
Beat: Cammarch Hotel Middle (Booking Office), Fishing Type: Grayling, No. Anglers: 1
"10:00am to 15:45pm, 18 grayling mostly 10 to 12 in but one male at 16inch, 3 oos WBT one at 19inch. Pin and Trotting red/white maggots on soft action 10ft old kevlar rod that allowed me to net all fish hooked, that's a first for grayling fishing for me.
WHOEVER GOT TROTTING ARRANGED ON THIS BEAT DESERVES A MEDAL! Spoilt for choice with plenty of variety and depth and relatively easy wading.
Dipper sat on rock 20 yds upstream, sparrow hawk comes upstream under my rod and hits dipper, big splash, dipper flies off and sparrow hawk in stream, got it in my landing net to the bank where it sat on branch drying out for half-hour then flapped off.
I will return to this beat next winter."
October ended with the warmest Halloween on record; it was 21C in Builth Wells on that Friday (warmer than your average summers' day in Builth!) and the grayling in the Irfon were doing backflips. Well, not quite, but insect life must have thought it was still summer - the margins were alive with fish rising to them as they dropped from overhanging tree boughs. That’s the scene I was faced with on the Irfon and these conditions continued for the 1st week in November at least. Grayling follow a coarse season in their spawning pattern but I've never quite understood this, as in simple terms any fish with an adipose fin is classed as game. Grayling have a huge adipose fin and are fished for by game anglers. But they are also fished for by the coarse angler, responding well to trotted maggots. The ultimate fish for the all round angler then? Either way, I love them and although many wait until snow is on the ground to fish for them, I think this is a waste of such a lovely time of year to be next to water. So why wait until the leaves have all disappeared and the Crown Jewels shrivel a little when wading? This month I have written an article on grayling for Improve Your Coarse Fishing, this will be out on the 23rd December and contains some fabulous photography - I hope it gives you some enjoyable Christmas reading!
Fortunately, there are other species to fish for at this time of year and you just need the conditions to be on your side. This month, however, they have not. That said, the first week of November did fish well for barbel as the warm nights stayed with us. Around the middle of the month we had quite a substantial flood. This too was warm and barbel catches were good - great if you still want to target them at this time of year but if you've got a pike head on or fancy sitting around at last knockings for the chub to come out to play, then it was getting a little frustrating. There were a few doubles reported out of the barbel caught, a notable one from Middle Hill Court on the 15th from SM of Greyshot:
"Having struggled the previous day on Backney, the ever increasing river level did not bode well for this session. River up over two feet on previous day. From past experience we knew the beat would not offer many opportunities to present a bait, other than the odd spot right in the edge. Which is what we did. My buddy MH managed a PB 10 lb barbel from under his feet. After a short nap to help recover from the previous nights over indulgence in Ross, MH had another one of 7 1/2 lb. Both on pellet. Proving the point that no matter how unfishable the river can appear at times there is always the chance of mugging a beard or two if your willing to put the effort in! This beat is also one of the most scenic I've fished and I look forward to returning soon."
Testament then against those who claim a wash off when there's a few feet of water on - yes it may appear daunting, but these conditions are still fishable and until that river is nearly over the banks then you're still in with a chance. A lot of the time these flooded conditions can actually be the most rewarding and some anglers I know can't wait for these conditions!
The levels did drop on the 21st and the lower river looked in good shape. This was short-lived, however, and by the Sunday it was back up and the colour of milky coffee. The window of opportunity to fish for anything other than barbel has been small then. Following the most recent flood at the end of the month, which was delivered by squally hail storms and with a couple of heavy frosts, the river has all but died for barbel fishing. We may have the odd warm flood between now and February but realistically it'll be March before expectations can be raised for a 3ft twitch.
A frosty morning in the Wye Valley.
I missed the opportunity last month to report the result for the Wye Championships, which were held on the 26 th October in Hereford. 140 anglers were battling it out for a £12k first prize. There were some excellent weights with the overall average at 16lbs per angler. The winner was Richard Candy with just short of 62lb of chub. In the middle of November the Angling Trust's Riverfest was also held at Hereford, with some of the best match anglers in the country present. The winning weight over 2 days was 49lb to Steve Sadler, considering there was nearly 7ft of floodwater the fishing was pretty good with plenty of roach and perch caught. Well done to all and great to hear positive reports of the river fishing well for the match angler. For more information on match fishing the Wye you'd do no worse than to speak to Woody at Woody's Angling Centre in Hereford – 01432 344644.
Looking forward we have no considerable amount rain forecast for the next 10 days. The lower river is clearing nicely and if it weren't for the general wind direction from the East, I'd say pike fishing should be as good as it can be. After a few weeks of being in the office I can't wait for some substantial fishing time and I'll be hoping to report back next month with a few decent captures. This time of year for me is as much about the reward when you get in from a day's fishing, I always feel like I’ve earned my bowl of hot stew or a tipple in front of the fire after a cold and muddy day's pike or chub fishing. However, please be careful and try to fish in pairs if possible as the banks of the Wye can be lethal when wet and a big pike or snagged up chub could put you off balance. Some of the access is Conditions could be good for winter pike fishing in the next week or so.muddy too, and on beats like Lower Hill Court it is not permitted to drive along the river bank at present. Please read your beat documents carefully as there may be changes, especially as it's shooting season and some areas are off limits.
If you're looking for gift ideas then the Foundation will sort you out with a voucher for some fishing. There's the 2015 Wild Stream permit to think of too (it's on my list) and of course take a look at my website for other ideas www.anglingdreams.co.uk. The local tackle shops are a good place for inspiration too, and the likes of Bankside Tackle near Tewkesbury or Sportfish will help you out. Either way I hope you manage some enjoyable time on the bank over the holiday period. Good luck, wherever and whatever you're fishing for.
I've got start this month by blowing my own trumpet - this time last year I achieved a barbel p.b. that had stood for nearly 10 years and now, a year later, I have upped it by nearly a pound to 12lbs exactly! Obviously I am still feeling quite smug about the whole affair! Picture right - a stunning fish I'm sure you'll agree.
We had the first frost on the 5 th October but this did little to drop water temperatures. To be honest, I wish it was colder and we had started pike fishing by now. However, I did get chance for a few lure-caught esox whilst searching out some new water ready to target this winter. Some very small "versions" put in an appearance too - good for the future or signs there are no bigger fish around to cannibalise them?
The facts are that it's 19C at the end of October and at long last we have had some rain. During the last month there were two significant rises, the first of which was dirty with all the rubbish that collects in eddies over the summer: tennis balls; Ribena bottles; plastic bottle caps; windscreen ice scrapers etc. The second flood was around the 17 th and it brought branches and trees that had been blown down by the recent high winds. I saw no feet-up sheep on this occasion but there were a few doors and fence panels!
Some beats have really come back to form as a result of this fresh water - Lower Carrots and Luggsmouth fishes well in a flood anyway and the access is particularly good compared to other beats at this time. On the 20 th October one angler had 12 barbel there. Backney too has given some excellent fishing with 17 barbel to TJ from Wantage on the 3 rd October, and a huge barbel to AB from Suffolk of 11lb 6oz on the 8 th October 2014.
Perryhill is a beat that often gets ignored - yes, the access by vehicle is a little dicey and yes, the bankside growth is challenging at times but the fishing along this stretch can be very rewarding. Catches of 7 or 8 barbel are possible with favourable conditions and I've heard of some big pike in that part of the river too. No monthly report would be complete without mentioning some whopping fish from Courtfield and Wyebank! Where do they keep coming from? There were three notable double figure barbel over 11lbs in October and a huge 6lb 3oz chub - a fish that could be well over 7lb come February.
Below are a couple of examples of feedback from anglers that would put a smile on any angler's face. These reports are crucial to those that work on the river so please take just a couple of minutes of your time to fill in the automated email form sent to you a few days after you've fished - we all enjoy reading them!
D. H. from Blandford Forum, Sunday 19 October 2014
Area: Middle & Lower Wye
Beat: Kerne Bridge (Booking Office),
Fishing Type: Coarse,
No. Anglers: 1
Had a great day out in stunning scenery - the river, woods, hills, and Autumn colours were amazing as was the backdrop of the castle ruin. Fished next to a good friend and enjoyed his company and netting skills...oh and caught some good barbel as well. Thank you Wye and Usk.
T. B. from SW London, Thursday 23 October, 2014
Area: Wye - Lugg
Beat: Luggsbridge (Booking Office),
Fishing Type: Coarse,
No. Anglers: 3
Having been washed off the main river, WUF were fantastic in their efforts to find us some fishable water and we ended up at Luggsbridge on the Lugg. A delightful stretch that reminded us of the rivers we fished in our youth. Nothing would come to large baits, but we did have some great sport on maggot with Dace, and Chub to 3lb.
There were some interesting captures in October too - a 10lb river carp from Whitney and a 10lb bream from Symonds Yat, for example. An angler fishing at Lower Hill Court said that the dace fishing potential there led him to believe that in 2 to 3 years' time it could be like it was 40 years ago when 70lb of dace won matches! Let's hope that's the case and a good sign of the improving quality of the river Wye and, perhaps, predator control.
One of the notable things about October is the lack of canoe traffic. However, there are always one or
two groups out there to spoil the ambience - MT from Solihull was quite happy to say it how it is:
"Canoe traffic was light but a party in the afternoon made up for it. I always make myself visible when I see them coming and in the past have had polite canoeists go right over the other side to minimize inconvenience. No such luck. These decided to come towards me a third of the way across. Rising above it I wound in to avoid my line being touched and was ignoring them as they came right in front saying something about "Mr Fisherman" so I suggested they could have gone over the other side. This prompted a comment I didn't hear which was met with laughter before they carried on splashing around, shouting and hooting on top of about 10 quids worth of bait. I assume they had hired them as they looked the canoeing equivalent of "noddies" and hope the hire company can better instil good practice in customers in future. I am sure some canoeists are just oblivious and mean no particular harm but the "we don't care" attitude of this group was frustrating."
Looking forward, one would expect a cold snap anytime soon which will probably put the barbel off a little but with the witching hour now at a much more sociable time of around 5pm, it's well worth hanging on for a "wrap around" from a big chub. The stillwaters will be all but shut down for the winter. If none of you have tried grayling fishing now is a good time - even try the fly if you haven't before. Grayling are much less spooky than trout and a clumsy cast can still get you a bite.
Tight lines for November!
A fine September barbel. Photo: Dougal Ziegler
Filming with Dean Macey (right) on the banks of the Wye
Playing a Wye barbel (above) and below, a 5lb+ chub. Photos: Dougal Ziegler
Well, after waxing lyrical about how good September can be as a fishing month and how it's my favourite time of year, it has officially been pants! I'm sure the seasons have shifted over the last few years – certainly autumn has. As we end the month we are told it is the driest September since records began, not helped by what little compensatory flows we've had being sucked out and onto the fields before they've reached Ross. Just as would be expected for August, not September, fishing has been slow too. A few visiting anglers have reported that they've been disappointed with the lack of fish. Well believe me, we're all feeling it!
It wasn't all bad though. Starting off the month I was fortunate enough to guide former Olympic decathlete Dean Macey to an 11lb 3oz barbel on his 1st cast while filming the new series of Fishing Gurus, due to air on Sky Sports later this autumn. Kenny Parsons got amongst a few doubles at Courtfield too, with several during September. The middle upper river fished well for chub and some eyebrow raising perch were caught at Sugwas Court and Lower Canon Bridge. Here are some notable captures from September, sorry if I've missed any out:
RL from Lydbrook - 1 x double and 2 x 9lb barbel in an evening session
CA from Preston - 2 double figure barbel from Middle Hill Court
MS from Carsholton - 37 barbel to 10lb 40z from Wyebank
TR from Chelmsford - double figure barbel from The Creel and Middle Hill Court
MB from Merthyr - 12lb barbel from Holme Lacy 3
RG from Newcastle - 11 barbel and 11 chub from Holme Lacy 3
Please can all anglers continue to put catch returns in. It's crucial for the Foundation to feedback to owners how their stretches of river are fishing and it gives a good measure of the fish stocks too, especially when we can use them to feedback to you again at the end of the month with the fishing reports.
I only did a little barbel fishing in September, sticking mostly to trotting for chub. The bug for watching a 6AAA loafer disappear at such a rate that it leaves rings behind has really gripped me this year. I did find a new shoal of barbel though, happily rubbing up against each other in a gutter I didn't even know existed. Fortunately on that day I had chosen to trot for dace, the no maggot period having ended. After several trots through a crease, identified by the differing pace of white foam on the surface, a barbel "porpoised" over my float. I knew it was a barbel, firstly because I was staring straight at my float and it obscured my view of it and, secondly, there was no mistaking the golds and browns in contrast to the shimmering reflection of blue sky.
After steadying myself and adjusting the clutch, a reaction rather than preparation (I was on 2.4lb bottom), I deepened the float and trundled the double white maggot through the gravel gutter. On the 3rd run through the float went under as if caught on the bottom, I held back and then lifted until the line became taught. At that point I could tell it was not the bottom - there was a definite amount of fishy tugging through the line. I won't go into what happened next (I'm sure you can imagine) but needless to say I don't have a photo of a fish to prove it!
The dace fishing in the second part of the month has been fantastic. One of the benefits of low flows is that the shoals of dace are huge and I've had well over 20lbs on a couple of occasions. There have been some really good ones too, I would say getting on for 10/12 oz. I like to use a small avon float, perhaps with big shoulders to facilitate holding it back, allowing the line under the water to straighten and the maggots on the hook to flutter up off the bottom enticingly. This is made all the more possible by spacing the shot shirt button style so you can ride the bait through the swim at varying depths and over uneven bottom - the slightest hold back will allow you to fish a foot or more shallower (depending on flow of course). One of the most important bits is to use a swivel to attach your hooklength to - not only does this make things easier to change a hooklength but it stops the double maggot "windmilling" in the flow and twisting up your fine line. As a bonus it can act as the bottom shot.
October is the traditional start to the pike season, although again it feels just a bit too early. That said I have heard of numerous feeders being attacked in the last week or so, and several good pike and perch have been caught up river (where it tends to be a bit cooler). Please take care if fishing for predators in these low conditions. It's a harsh winter and they'll need all their strength and fitness now in preparation for the wild conditions the Wye will undoubtedly be throwing at them.
The clocks go back at the end of the month so make the most of the post work couple of hours. If you're lucky enough to have a day off, the river is an awesome place to spend time outdoors right now. Please follow my adventures throughout the month on my Facebook page and good luck whatever you fish for.
August can be a flat month for fishing. Rivers are usually experiencing low levels and a lack of oxygen, an early autumn wind can chill the air and make it feel like the long lazy summer days are a million miles away. Boat traffic can be unbearable and with school holidays the rivers and lakes can appear as one big playground. Thankfully, due to schemes such as the Fishing Passport, one can book a stretch of river where just being there makes up for the slower than usual fishing and the only other people around to bother you are on floating craft. Reports such as MB from Merthyr are the perfect example -
"Canoes, canoes and canoes, canoes again. Very promising place but not for now. Risky because the people in canoes, struggled to fish up to 8pm."
A rod and reel taken out of the Wye in August. To help prevent this sort of thing from happening, anglers must only use 1 rod at a time when fishing Passport beats.
However, once these have 'gone through', it's just you and your stretch of river and as the light fades, so the fishing picks up. Also, if you get a bit of water in the river or a dull day, the fish don't know it's August. MY from Lydney banked a 12lb barbel from the Creel earlier in the month, not bad considering his goal was to catch an American visitor their first barbel! Holme Lacy 3 and Wyastone have been consistent beats this season and in August they continued to fish well, with Holme Lacy again producing over 50 chub to 2 anglers on numerous occasions. There were some good catches at Lower Hill Court too - 19 barbel to an angler on the 12th who had to stop fishing because he ran out of bait! I don't expect this to change and as the temperatures drop, the fish will go on the feed and beats that have been quiet will start to come back into form. The barbel especially will start to put on weight now and stretches such as Courtfield and Wyastone are a good bet for a double. The big fish that are already there, such as an 11lb barbel and a near 7lb chub (6lb 12oz, to be precise) caught on 13th August, will be getting fatter!
Many anglers believe that fishing two rods is a good way of improving their chances when the fishing slows in August. Personally I don't agree with this and in any case, you can only use one rod at a time if fishing Passport beats. The image to the right is of a rod and reel someone extracted from Middle Hill Court earlier in the month - it had been in the river for some time and I can only assume it was dragged in at some point in the past. This usually happens when either an angler is having a snooze or when someone is using two rods and not paying attention. Either way, a sure way to avoid this is by using one rod and keeping an eye on it at all times - the "three foot twitch" could cost you an expensive new rod! In addition to the one-rod rule, please make sure that you are aware of and abide by all WUF coarse fishing rules, individual beat rules and EA byelaws.
Catching small barbel on trotted maggot - great fun and good signs of things to come!
On the subject of rules, something to really look forward to next month is the end of the maggot ban on the Wye. From June 16th to September 14th non-aquatic pupae are prohibited to be used as bait (see page 11 of the byelaws). Some clubs do apply for dispensation to this rule but otherwise it's a byelaw that is in force. Although there are less of them in the middle reaches of the Wye these days, the rule was understandably put in place to protect salmon parr, who love a maggot and tend to swallow small hooks. For me it's all part of why September is such a good time for fishing, getting out on the float towards the end of the month catching quality dace and chub in the early evening autumn mist.
Using maggots will get you amongst the smaller barbel too. There is already the odd one being caught on corn and small pellets. They're great scrappers on light tackle and a lovely fish to admire in miniature - good news for the future of barbel populations too.
A quality Wye chub that fell to bread flake (above) and below, September is pellet and paste time!
I've spent most of August chub fishing on bread flake. This is one of my favourite ways to fish and always gets results. With September ahead of us though I will be moving more over to pellets and paste, searching out a few bigger fish. There's so much water to explore so I suggest anyone with the time should get out there now whilst the river is still low and work out where the deeper areas are and where fish might go in a flood. The Wye contains some very good perch too and I suggest an approach of chopped worm and caster will find you a few. Last autumn there were several reports of multiple captures of 2lb + specimens. However, you will rarely catch big perch unless you are targeting them so it could be worth investing some time changing your tactics if you want to try for this species.
I've got some interesting work lined up this month, commencing with "Fishing Gurus" for Sky Sports. The guys from Guru love the Wye and I'm really looking forward to working with them again. They use the Passport for their social fishing too, often bringing friends and family and make a proper trip of it. September is also my busiest guiding month and I'm looking forward to seeing beaming smiles as anglers get into a few barbel and chub from some fantastic locations. A few hours guiding can make the world of difference to your fishing.
A few of the Passport beats have had some bankside vegetation clearance work in the past few weeks, with photos added to the galleries on the website. Clearing the Wye's banks is hard work and the effort is not always appreciated. It's also sometimes a hard job trying to meet the expectations of many different anglers that come to fish, some of whom prefer the banks to be left completely alone, others who expect never to have to push back a nettle! Please remember that there are also legal restrictions as to what can be done. The Wye is both SSSI and SAC and anything but very light clearance can only be done at certain times of year and only with permission of statutory authorities. If wooden platforms and neatly manicured swims are what you require, I think the Wye isn't for you. In my experience, wooden structure and any bankside modifications just get blasted down to the estuary on the first proper flood anyway. Take a bank stick and clear a few swim if you like. 8ft tall Himalayan balsam may appear daunting but it actually clears with ease. As the banks are so soft underneath this balsam, due to the nature of its root structure loosening the top soil, you can easily dig your heels in and get down the bank. You should always be careful around the riverbank and not endanger yourself but my point is not to be too easily defeated by the sight of the undergrowth. Besides, catching fish from a swim you've made is a very satisfying experience.
Good luck to all of you who can get fishing this month and please, if you have any fishy tales to tell then drop me a line through my website or for any general advice that the Booking Office can't give, I'm happy to help... www.anglingdreams.co.uk or find me on Facebook.
The Wye at Kerne Bridge in the very low water levels of July and, below, a little further upstream at Middle Hill Court
Following the hottest July for many years you might think I have very little to report on. Only mad dogs and Englishmen would have been fishing a whole day - in temperatures more often found in the Med than Herefordshire. Following day after day of heavy abstraction the river dropped like a stone, with just a small rise of a few inches mid-month. An algal bloom developed at the end of June, stayed with us for most of July and just last week returned again. The algal bloom causes poor visibility in the water and a silty slime over the river bed - it's hard to say whether the fish mind but it doesn't fill you with confidence when staring into it. Fortunately the Wye has a relatively cool source of water from up in the Welsh mountains and with thick bankside vegetation (overhanging willows) there are plenty of places for coarse fish to take cover. During the long summer days, anglers are also able to fish well into the evening and this is when sport is at its best at this time of year.
Despite the conditions there was some good fishing and, interestingly, lots of eels caught. This is great to hear as their numbers have been declining since around 2000. On the 19th July, one angler had 5 eels from Kerne Bridge, a remarkable catch.
At the beginning of the month the big chub catches of June continued. A fish of 6lbs 2oz was caught from Wyebank and one of a 5lb 8oz from Backney. The large quantities were notable too, with around 30 fish caught on 2 different days on the Foy Bridge stretch. Most notable has been the chub fishing on Holme Lacy 3, where several reports came in of 50 + chub in a day, with one angler reporting over 100 chub (and 49 barbel!).
Barbel catches started to slow down as the month went on; even the reliable Courtfield experienced a few blanks. Holme Lacy 3 was an exception, as was The Creel, a new beat for 2014. There were a few reports of some beats being overgrown and fishless but anglers who were prepared to explore the entire length of a beat found swims they wouldn't have otherwise known about. One such example was Middle Hill Court where I came across some anglers who thought there was only one good barbel swim on a mile of river - they certainly didn’t expect to be hand feeding barbel in swims further downstream by lunchtime! Having said that, finding the fish is only one part of the equation. One day last week a friend and I were on the same beat watching a shoal of around 30 barbel feeding hard at our feet - an awesome sight but we blanked and left the fishery with more questions than answers! The fish were obviously feeding but they were spooking off our rigs. My tip is to scale right down and get as much line pinned to the river bed as possible, especially if you're fishing middle of the day when the high sun can reflect your line angling into the water. If the hot weather continues I still recommend getting out into the water and walking your stretch with polaroids. Here's another video from the guys at Guru to give you some tips on approaching the Wye in this fashion.
Wyastone Leys fished well last season and has produced some incredible sized fish recently - M.Y. from Lydney caught a 10lb and an 11lb barbel at the beginning of the month, followed up just last week with M.Y. reporting 3 x 10lbers and a fish of "just over" 14lbs! The Wye record is 14lbs 9oz so I do hope the "just over" was recorded accurately. There was some scrutiny over the catch as the fish being held at waist height over rocks. I'm afraid this is poor practice for holding any fish, especially a fish of a lifetime.
Discarded tackle on the riverbank is unsightly and is dangerous. Please ensure you take all your old tackle and other litter home with you.
It is worth stressing the importance of barbel handling - at this time of year with low oxygen levels and high temperatures, anglers should take more care than usual in treating and returning these fish. Barbel put everything into the fight. I recommend the fish is rested in the net before unhooking. The fish then must be out of the water for as little time as possible and, if under 7 or 8lbs, please do not weigh them. Barbel of 5 and 6lbs are ten a penny and it really is unnecessary to weigh them. When returning the fish, make sure they are upright and can 'right' themselves if nudged around - if they do not right themselves and go belly up, they will stay belly up. It can take as much as 20 minutes or half an hour to revive barbel in these conditions, so please bare this in mind before dropping the net to release a fish.
Unfortunately, there have been a few reports recently of discarded tackle being found on the riverbank with one especially horrifying case involving a dog swallowing a hook. The poor terrier had to be operated on and only just survived its ordeal. Please ensure that all litter and tackle is taken home with you, even if it is not yours.
Fishing for carp in Quabs Pool, one of several intimate still waters available to anglers on a day ticket.
On a lighter note the weather has cooled and we have had some rain in the system to freshen things up a little. If you just feel the river isn't the place though, there's some cracking carp in Eccleswall Court, and the picture to the right might just inspire you to get out there.
It's amazing to think that back in March everything was saturated, and on the www.anglingdreams.co.uk website I even posted "we don't want mention of a hosepipe ban this year!" - if we don’t get some rain soon then we're going to have one! Without wanting to wish time away, next time I write we'll be into September - arguably the best time of year for coarse fishing. Pike fishing will be in our sights and the grayling beats will be open for trotting soon after - time to book some fishing...
Last season coarse fishers were faced with an unseasonably cold June 16th. Barbel and chub were still spawning due to the late spring, the river and air temperatures were more like April. It was well into July before catches got going and even then fish caught were in poor condition. This year was an entirely different story - a warm winter and spring was followed by a warm flood and "flush through" at the beginning of June, which was expected to fine down ready for opening day. June 16th arrived for many anglers with an above average level of excitement and anticipation and conditions on opening day were to be the best for many years.
From the start there was just enough colour in the river to give the barbel and chub confidence to feed throughout the day, with enough clarity to run a float through without the fish missing the bait. During the first week there were some excellent chub catches through the main beats below Hay on Wye, with some fish quite big for the time of year. A 5lb 10oz fish was reported from Courtfield, with another angler reporting a pb chub of over 6lbs from Wyastone Leys. Wyebank and Courtfield produced the most notable catches, with numerous reports of over 20 chub in a session - 31 chub and 26 barbel in a day on Wyebank on the 25th! Also, an angler fishing The Creel on the 20th caught 18 chub between 2 and 31⁄2lb. My theory behind the good numbers of chub this year is the lack of weed causing them to shoal up - sustained winter and spring flooding removes weed from the bed of the river and coloured water from regular storms denies fresh growth.
The quality of barbel fishing has also been above average for the time of year. Normally it doesn't get going until July but there have been numerous reports of double figure fish from Wyastone Leys, Courtfield, Wyebank and Foy Bridge. I witnessed a 10lb 4oz fish caught on opening day - a pristine fish, fins undamaged and in perfect proportion. I'm sure the barbel are getting bigger in the Wye with, perhaps, the big bags less of a possibility. This is not to say that good numbers aren't still possible, at Courtfield anglers were experiencing catches of 20+ barbel, with Holme Lacy 3, Lower Canon Bridge and Fownhope 5 reporting 15 barbel to one angler. If any of you are struggling to imagine how this is possible, or just want some inspiration for your next trip, check out this video from Dean Macey and Guru, filmed at Lower Canon Bridge on the 19th and 20th June.
On stillwaters the tench spawned late this year. Good fish were being caught right up to midsummers day but from then they will get a little more finicky as they gorge on daphnia. My tip is to feed sparingly and to fish light. The carp had spawned early though and my annual pilgrimage to Redmire resulted in 2 fabulous fish of 24-8 and 28-1. If the river doesn't do it for you during this busy summer spell, or your fishing is restricted to middle part of the day only, remember the stillwaters. Floater fishing for carp doesn't come much better than right now and Trelough Pool is a great venue for this approach.
If the bright weather continues the fishing may slow with static baits but running a float through can still produce some action. Get your waders on or, if you’re feeling brave, get out in the water in your shorts. A big piece of bread flake run under an overhanging alder branch, or skirting a willow will often entice a big greedy chub to snaffle your bait. Fishing bread punch, corn and pellets should also get some interest from other species such as roach and dace. You can also use these low river conditions as reconnaissance for later sessions when the river is flooded or light levels too low to see much - polaroids are your most vital piece of armoury. If you want to know more on this method, this month's Improve Your Coarse fishing has a feature with yours truly on trotting the Wye.
As we head into July the river is experiencing an algal bloom. A thick slime covers the gravels and there’s a brown tinge to the water that reduces visibility to about 1 foot. A good flush of water is required when it’s like this. However, the fishing is still decent and as the bright conditions continue the barbel and chub will favour the early and latter parts of the day to feed. I wouldn't be getting to the river much before 5pm if I had the choice.
Vegetation will be a little easier to get through too, with the most popular and productive swims well worn. Lots of water still doesn’t get covered on the WUF stretches, but I strongly recommend you to explore – there are still virgin shoals of barbel out there.
Canoe traffic will increase from the middle of the month, to coincide with school holidays, again fishing early and late in the day will alleviate any rage associated with their presence. This said, there are increasing positive reports of conscientious canoe groups and I personally do my best to speak to the organisers on dry land and encourage a mutual respect between canoeists and anglers during the summer months.
This time of year is not all about catching fish though (save that for late September and October) and the never-ending summer days should be soaked up. I use this time of year for fishing with friends, drinking some locally brewed cider, picnicking with family, napping under an oak in dappled sunlight, satisfied that I'm not missing much and that the best time of day is still to come. The plucks and rattles on the rod tip increase as the light goes and the witching hour seems to last forever.