Coarse Fishing Report By Adam Fisher
If we get a good flush through in October, then November can be a very productive time for coarse fishing on the Wye. The barbel feed on through the autumn, the small fish get shoaled up making the trotting good and the pike that prey on them are not far behind. If, however, you get what we just had - low, clear, cold, and in need of that flush through - then the river can appear pretty lifeless. This was one of the most spectacular autumns I can remember, but the fishing didn't follow suit. A theory behind that is the sheer quantity of leaves and twigs in the water - surely a variety of bugs and insects come with this so providing the fish with a decent larder to feed on?
Contrary to this there are those notable days when the river comes "alive." Deer may pay a visit while you're on the riverbank or you may come across them en route to your venue. Pike attack bait fish, owls hoot in broad daylight, salmon crash and kingfishers flash past. On these days the fishing anticipation is heightened and why shouldn't it? It makes perfect sense. All of nature is "having a go". We had a few days like that this month and I should take more notice of them. I remember saying many times in the past that it's as if we've got some cold weather on the way and all of nature is getting prepared - and what happened a few days later? Minus 6 for several days, hale showers, snow, frosts etc.
Chub fishing did pick up for a short time and I experienced a particularly good session on the float. Back in the summer I spotted a shoal of big chub under a rather large bush. Hoping they were still there, I fed maggots mid river for over an hour expecting to pull them from their cover and to trip them up on a double maggot or piece of flake. One fish later and another bumped and it was clear something wasn't right. To cut a long story short I had to cast upstream of the bush and literally allow the float to clip the branches on its way through the swim. But the results were pretty awesome - half a dozen fish later I'd banked a chub that was an ounce short of my p.b. and in the most fantastic condition. Bronze as a bronze thing, shiny and bright. "Fresh" I think is a good description. The cold weather does lead to fish moving around less and with it sometimes more finicky bites, but when you work it out it's so much more rewarding!
So, the catch reports for November were predictably a bit quiet. The Creel fished well (as always this year), as did Backney, but otherwise the river generally slowed down. We had a huge flood at the end of the month (there's a graph below of one of those spikes) but it was all a bit late and combined with snow melt, all but killed the fishing off. If we'd had it in October then I think it would have been an awesome November. Instead it's left us all a bit deflated and winter is here all of a sudden.
There's been a notable increase in bankside trees falling in. I think this is just coincidental and what we really need is a good hard winter flood to flush all the half broken willow out. I think this is cyclical and just like the weed, which I hope will come back in full bloom next year. What the lack of weed in the last couple of seasons has meant is the fish have pushed into the margins more and catch returns back this up - perhaps something to think about next time you get out on the bank? Combined with a few more fallen trees there's a whole rake of marginal swims that have perhaps previously been overlooked. The Wye has never really been a marginal river when it comes to barbel, but I think this has changed for now. Another recent change we've noticed is that grayling have started showing up in catch reports further down river - I've always caught one or two but there's definitely an increase this year. Don't get me wrong, they're not prolific and it's not reasonable to target them specifically yet, but they are on the increase and this is good to see.
It was the Wye Champs at the start of the month and although "peggy", there were some pretty impressive catches, the winning weight being 125lbs 6oz to Peter Goulding. This competition is always an interesting measure of how the coarse fish stocks are and perch make up a lot of the weights in matches these days. There's also some decent roach showing up and this is exciting for the trotting angler. Perch in the reaches outside of the towns are harder to come by, but they are there and a recommended method is to rove and rove with a tub of lobworms. The problem with perch is they're either really on or really off, so just because you don't catch behind a fishy looking bush doesn't mean they're not there. It's something I plan on doing more of this winter so hopefully there'll be some pics for you in the New Year. Dawn and dusk are the best times for perch and fishing at this time of year in general is great because the two witching hours are far more sociable than during the rest of the year. Although the days are shorter, you get to fish the two best times of the day, which you may not be able to do in the summer. Yes, the cost of the day ticket is the same for a shorter day but it's relatively as good value in my opinion.
Nearly all WUF beats are now open for bookings for 2017 and the beats I look after are too, so please check your diary and start getting those dates in. The popularity of the booking system and the Wye is going from strength to strength and dates are booking up quickly, especially in the summer. One exciting new fishery to explore is Marsh Court, a few miles upstream of Hereford. This one has huge potential and I look forward to reporting on my and others' experiences from there over next year.
I expect my next report will be after January now as December and January will combine. There will then be an end of season report in April and a pre-season one in June. On that note I'll say good luck if you do manage to get out over the festive period. Watch out for slippery banks following any flooding and please keep the feedback coming in.
This time last year we experienced low water with incredibly clear conditions. Well, this year we had pretty much the same and for coarse anglers, it makes things tough. Whereas last year the barbel still fed well and were catchable on the float, this year that didn't really happen. I tried, other anglers tried, and no matter what we did, the barbel really didn't get going until the last hour or two of light. The catches were still steady throughout the river though, as one would expect, but there were only one or two really outstanding reports - TW from Preston caught 45 barbel and 16 chub at Fownhope 5 and ME from Stanwell reported 50 barbel from Perryhill. Otherwise, there weren't many double figure catches of barbel or chub and the size was not notable either, with one or two low doubles here and there. By no means was the fishing poor and I guess this just goes to show how unpredictable it can be. There was a drop in temperature and a small flood but fishing neither really slowed down or picked up - it was just steady. The temps did pick up on the 18th/19th and despite seemingly lovely fishing conditions the catch rate still didn't increase. Dace fishing never really got going, nor did the chub fishing and although there were a few anglers fishing for them, the pike didn't really put in an appearance either. There were two beats that perhaps stood out and that was Middle Hill Court and the Creel - they've both fished really well this year.
We received the following report from an angler at Whitehouse, which is really a true reflection of what it's all about and, I think, well worth a read:
"First time on this stretch. Booked as part of anniversary weekend for me and my wife Becci hoping she could finally catch her first barbel. Track down the field was a bit ropey in my estate car and better suited a 4x4 but we managed - a bit of wheel spin on the way back up so I'd think twice before heading down there in a non-4x4 in wet weather but I'm sure the farmer would let you park at the top and walk down if you asked nicely.
Read a few reports about lack of swims - I can assure people that there are plenty of swims, at least in the relatively low flow conditions we had. Some towards the upper end are a little bit difficult but there is more accessible water than a couple of anglers could fish in one session without question. If you want perfectly manicured swims I suggest you stick to commercial fisheries. Absolutely nothing wrong with this beat.
Now the fishing - first fish out was an 8lb 3oz barbel to my wife. Hearing her nervous giggling as the reel screamed was an absolute delight. After that it all went very quiet apart from the odd salmon jumping and a few pike hitting fish at the surface so we moved downstream a bit - wish we'd done that earlier! 5 mins after moving my wife had her 2nd barbel and shortly after that I had one at 7lb 1oz. We finished with 4 barbel each, lost a couple, had a 4lb chub and then a few dace and a wee troot on trotted maggots - if you could be tempted away from the barbel (all caught on pellet) you could have great fun trotting on this stretch. If we'd moved earlier / had longer before dark we would have certainly added another couple of barbel to our tally. Also watched a kingfisher feeding throughout the day. One of my best fishing days ever and over the moon that my wife managed to catch her first barbel and that it was such a good size fish. Barbel ranged from 4lb up to 8lb 3oz. Great day, thanks to beat owner and WUF."
As winter approaches and numbers of legitimate anglers on the river drop, we sometimes get an increase in illegal fishing and poaching activity. It is worth noting the difference between the two - poaching is generally thought of as someone who is fishing with a rod licence and with legal methods but without the permission of the fishery owner whereas "illegal" fishing is usually where the law is being broken - i.e. no licence, illegal methods, taking fish where and when not permitted etc. In recent years, EA and NRW bailiffs have really only been concerned with the latter, leaving poaching incidents to be dealt with by the owner or fishery manager. However, I'm glad to say this situation appears to be changing with the statutory authorities seeming more willing to respond to "fishing without permission" incidents and bringing prosecutions under the Theft Act (effectively theft of fishing rights). In times of The rod room of the Royalty Fishery on the Hampshire Avon dwindling government resources, it remains to be seen whether this trend continues or amounts to any serious deterrent to poachers. In the meantime, here is WUF's advice if encountering either type of offence:
"Coming across poachers is, unfortunately, a risk on any fishery, however many signs are put up. There is little that can be done about these incidents several days afterwards. We therefore urge anglers to call the EA/NRW incident line (0800 80 70 60) immediately if you come across people fishing illegally or without permission. If the incident is on a Passport beat, please also report it to us as soon as you can on 01874 712074. If you feel threatened in any way, please call the police on 101 or 999. Advice on poaching incidents is given in the "What To Do Guide" issued with every booking."
Towards the end of the month the chub fishing did get going and there was some great sport to be had on the float with maggot. This boded well for the annual Wye Champs but you'll have to wait for next month for me to talk about the result there.
My mojo to fish has certainly been affected recently by the loss of my fluffy little dog. However, when offered a few days away on the southern chalk streams I thought it was the perfect opportunity to renew my enthusiasm. What I do know is a change is as good as a rest, so armed with a gallon of maggots and centrepin off I went. I revisited a stretch of the Kennet on the way down which was an old haunt from back when I was a student. I had the whole beat to myself and caught some cracking chub. They looked different to Wye fish- smaller heads, more dense and dark but they were, of course, a real pleasure to catch. I then had a day on the Itchen as a guest and although it was low and very clear my instincts told me to persevere in a swim that just screamed out to have something special in. An hour later and the roach pictured showed up, amongst bream and plenty of grayling. The 3rd day was a real treat and I must thank John Stack and Nigel Gray for setting it up. If you've never been to the rod room on the Royalty Fishery I highly recommend it! Combined with a day in the punt on the Bridge Pool, it's something every river angler should do. To be honest, that was enough fishing to last me all year, but although the chalkstreams have a majesty all of their own, I was recharged to get out on the Wye and lose myself in wilder surroundings. The fishing was good and I can only think the amount of trotting I'd had in those 3 days down south had fine-tuned my skills - I had an epic day on the float towards the end of the month, fishing single maggot to land chub up to 6-1. I also visited the upper Wye area and caught some stonking grayling - less numbers of fish than the chalkstreams but, again, wilder and this annual autumn pilgrimage was certainly one to remember. My thanks to Rich for his company and pep talk to get me up there! All that fishing really did get me over the hurdle of losing Belle but I can't help but think she was there in spirit - she'd have loved every cast.
Speaking of the upper Wye, I'd like to take the opportunity to point you towards a couple of interesting films I made for WUF during September and October, one of them reintroducing gravel to the Afon Elan and the other removing a weir on the river Lugg. Both rivers have good numbers of grayling and, along with salmon and trout, the work aims to help successful spawning in future years. Please do have a look at these videos via the links at the bottom of my report.
Heading into November the conditions were starting to really get chilly and next month we'll see what that did to the fishing. Until then I suggest you continue to enjoy this wonderful autumn we're having and try to be patient when all the leaves eventually flush through - it'll be a nightmare for a couple of days but will eventually give way to a fresh winter river.
Whatever you fish for in the meantime, enjoy and good luck.
NEWSFLASH! Sandwiches stolen by dog at Lower Canon Bridge! Although this may not seem a big deal to you, during a long day's fishing, sustenance is important, especially with the walk to and from LCB!
This is not the first incident of sandwiches or bait being nabbed by a hound this September either. Another angler had some pellets disappear from White House and another reported sandwiches being scoffed at Wyastone by a passer-by. I'm not sure which is worse; no lunch or no bait. I'm not a fan of pellets personally but luncheon meat or sweetcorn has kept me going many a time on the bank when I've forgotten my lunch. Either way, you have been warned!
September is my favourite month for fishing but sadly this year it will be marked by the loss of my dog, Belle. She was 6 in May and having had her from a puppy she's been everywhere with me and was a great riverside companion. Rarely on the lead she wouldn't dive in the water for anything (even sandwiches) and she was an excellent pike angler - she'd watch a bung for hours and as you may have heard about other dogs, she had a sixth sense when it came to a run, often licking my ear just as the first twitch would come to the line.
Anyone who's ever lost a dog at a young age I'm sure can empathise - I can honestly say I've never been so sad. Fortunately my daughter is too young to notice and, in time, I may consider a replacement but at present it's hard to imagine how another dog would be the same. But then, they never are I guess. I'll keep you posted and if anyone knows of any terrier puppies (not from a supermarket car park!) then I may be interested.
The start of the month went off with a bang as far as fishing was concerned, with some fantastic catches up and down the river. The conditions were good - a falling river following a small spate, still warm at night and not much weed and flotsam coming down. LW from Oldham made the most of Fownhope 5 with 19 barbel and 28 chub - the most productive catch I've hear of from here. Middle Hill Court too continued its recent form with 15 barbel and 10 chub to RP from Leicester. We receive few reports from Wyastone these days, only ones to say how few swims there are even though I supervised the clearing of approximately 20 in August, many towards the downstream limit that the complainants never even walk to! 10 barbel and 6 chub were reported here to N from Carmarthen. It's no surprise to report Backney doing well too - 16 barbel and 28 barbel on the 3rd and 4th, with Holme Lacy 3 continuing it's form with 30 chub to CD from Langport and 21 barbel to DC from Morton on the 5th.
Kerne Brige receives a few complaints about access and although this is understandable to a point, it's more daunting stood at the top of the bank than once you're down by the river. It's worth the effort though, RS from Merstham catching 21 barbel and 9 chub on the 5th.
This was a particularly good few days for the whole of the river actually, with the highlights being the Creel and Backney producing 13 barbel and 18 barbel respectively. Lower Ballingham also returned to a bit of form with 17 barbel to PM from Cheltenham, and 16 barbel at White House to NW from Biggleswade. During this period if you weren't catching lots of barbel then something was seriously wrong and although the Lower Hill Court fishery has fished consistently well the last few years, a report from MA from Somerset is worth mentioning as they caught 91 barbel over 4 days.
On the 6th September there was another small rise in the levels and this kept the sport going -
Courtfield - 18 & 12 barbel in consecutive days
Holme Lacy 4 - 15 barbel
Backney - 24 barbel 12 chub
Wyebank - 50 barbel over 2 days
How Caple Court - 23 barbel
Fownhope 5 - 26 barbel
Foy - 17 barbel
A few anglers continue to report MHC not having enough swims - the top swim at the Vanstone Pool being joined with the salmon fishery above putting 2 anglers off completely. That was a shame as they reported catching 7 barbel and the day after PH from Hastings caught 21!
Sport continued right through the fining down and Fownhope 5 again produced a great catch for MK from Bourne with 24 barbel and 10 chub. MHC again gave a good day to PH from Hastings catching a further 22 barbel, with Kerne Bridge producing 22 chub on the same day and PD from Ascot catching 35 barbel at Backney. Foy Bridge and the Creel also gave up more good fishing with 33 barbel / 60 chub and 20 barbel / 8 chub respectively.
Foy Bridge, The Creel and Fownhope have one thing in common for me - the more they get fished the better the fishing gets, and this is classic of so many previously underfished stretches. I think the fish get used to what bait is and when it starts to go in they switch onto it faster and stay on it in more due to lack of pressure. The Creel fished well at times last year, but this year it's really got going and the following few catches prove this:
- 19th - 19 barbel 9 chub
- 20th - 26 barbel 4 chub
- 21st - 19 barbel 8 chub
- 22nd - 18 barbel 7 chub
That's quality fishing no matter where you go and just upstream of this is Foy Bridge, which produced 25 barbel and 18 chub to IJ from Grays on the 24th. It's an interesting pattern and there's no doubt that the Backney to Foy area is the most productive stretch of the Wye right now.
Catches still continued elsewhere but as the river went low and clear the fishing definitely got tougher with only MHC and Holme Lacy 3 producing the big catches we had got used to. As the month closed we had another short spate and this did bring a flurry of catches throughout the river - most notable perhaps was the presence of a few doubles in the reports. Does this mean the big fish are starting to feed now? Courtfield produced 2 doubles to MD from Somerset and the opposite bank at Home Fishery (fished via Angling Dreams) also produced two 11lbers, one of which was taken on a float on the last day of the month. What a way to close for us in this area and as October came in the cold nights hadn't really started to set in, but they were forecast. We'll have to see what next month brings with hopefully a few reports of some predators and some lovely pics of the Wye Valley in its autumn splendor. The misty mornings have already started though and there's a few photos attached of these.
Enjoy this time of year. It's lovely out there and as the nights draw in and the clocks change the summer will all be behind in a flash. I like it and although my little dog won't be here to join me this autumn she'll be with me in spirit and hopefully will bring me some luck with a few chub & dace on the float. I'll end with the catch returns below - a couple of the best I've ever read!
C. D. from Langport , Saturday 3 September, 2016
Area: Middle & Lower Wye
Beat: Sugwas Court (Booking Office), Fishing Type: Coarse, No. Anglers: 1
No action today and do you know what?... It really didn't matter, just being here it's just a privilege to on the bank of this glorious river thank you WUF.
D. C. from Norton, North Yorkshire, Sunday 25 September, 2016
Area: Middle & Lower Wye
Beat: Perryhill (Booking Office), Fishing Type: Coarse, No. Anglers: 2
First visit to Perryhill and shorter than ideal due to travelling home after a weekend on the Wye.
We were in a 4X4 which is advisable for the track. The cattle were ok and didn't bother us at all. The barbed wire fencing bordering the field is manageable. The banks are steep so our ropes were used to get up and down safely.
The fishing was steady for the time we were there but we found a few fish in a couple of swims with barbel to 9:6.
A truly wild beat. Don't sit there wondering what it's like, get it booked and give it a go.
3 Barbel, 3 Chub
August is often referred to as the "dog days" by anglers with low water and oxygen levels, maximum weed growth and fish not feeding until low light levels of dusk or sunrise. Also, being the holidays there are more non-angling people around. Canoe traffic peaks and boat after boat can arrive your swim from mid morning to mid afternoon, one after the other after the other, the clanging of paddle on hull audible for some distance before their arrival, and well after. Then there's the screaming and shouting....
When guiding for a client recently, I encountered an adult and 2 children in a canoe who came downstream and then turned and stopped in front of us, only for the Dad to throw a ball in the water which they chased around. I said nothing as I've seen it all before, just looking on in disbelief. They then asked the usual question "caught anything?" "Had a few but doubt I'll have many more" I replied. "Come on" said the father, "let's move away from the grumpy fishermen who want to spoil our fun." Well, they were spoiling my fun and they came into my space, with the river as far as the eye could see upstream and down to have fun in. It was really quite bizarre and was so blatant I thought it must have been on purpose.
Anyway, onto the fishing. Holme Lacy 4 & The Elms is a new fishery for WUF this year and has been fishing really nicely for those fortunate enough to get one of the 3 days available there a week. The Creel too has continued in good form - LS from London catching 11 barbel and 12 chub on the 3rd, and 10 barbel to LF from Lancaster on the 2nd. The same party then fished Middle Hill Court and stated that because of the fee that "upkeep should be paramount" and many swims unfishable. They managed to catch 18 barbel and 20 chub this day so I'm not quite sure what the problem was! Also, as has been explained dozens of times, there are large areas with no swims in many beats because much of the water is just not conducive to good fishing (too shallow, very snaggy, or weedy). If the time and expense goes in to putting swims here then it will be wasted as anglers just won't fish them and they'll grow over once more.
It was great to hear reports of White House fishing well again. To me this beat has never really dropped in standard. People just stopped fishing it as much, possibly because of the sometimes noisy irrigation pump there (which isn't usually a problem outside the summer months. LH from Worcester Park caught 14 barbel here on the 4th. Still, you get the same conflicting reports, and below is another perfect example of how difficult it is to please everyone! I think the lack of fish caught might have been a motive though...
H. R. from Leicester, Tuesday 16 August, 2016
Area: Middle & Lower Wye
Beat: White House (Booking Office),
Fishing Type: Coarse, No. Anglers: 2
1 fish in 3 days didn't help with the bright weather and low river. I've got to say I'm very disappointed
Wye and Usk Foundation. Could only fish a quarter of the stretch. No effort made to cut out any pegs.
paying £22 a day to fish you think it would be the least they could do. Will certainly
not book any fishing with the WUF again. You can fish the opposite bank of there stretches for half the
even less and night fish.
N. W. from Bristol, Monday 29 August, 2016
Area: Middle & Lower Wye
Beat: White House (Booking Office), Fishing Type: Coarse, No. Anglers: 2
First trip on this beat and was very happy with the water available. Very hot and bright with 2 fish
coming between 6:30
and 7:00 am with the rest in the evening. 12 Barbel and one Chubb all caught on pellet.
It would be nice to see the riverside path cut back as it becomes overgrown and impassable after about
100 meters and
there looks to be some lovely swims if it was cut back. This aside having walked only the section from
the parking to the
down stream limit there is more water easily available than can be fished in a day.
Huge thanks to Wye and Usk as this is a fantastic beat and a pleasure to fish.
12 Barbel, 1 Chub
The sport continued for the next few days, with Middle Hill Court and Wyebank producing 14 barbel and 24 barbel respectively. On the 9th Holme Lacy 3 was kind to 2 anglers from St Helens - 26 barbel and 60 chub the tally here!
By the middle of the month the river became very low and the fishing all but died apart from early morning or late evening. Coinciding with this, anglers found that meat outfished the pellet and the amount of anglers I converted back to the lead was astounding. In fact I've just done a feature on this for Improve Your Coarse Fishing, out next month! My mantra here is don't do what the guy who was there yesterday did i.e. bombarding the river and the barbel with feeder after feeder.
Towards the end of the month we had some much needed rain, and with this the barbel catches predictably picked up - just about every beat produced a dozen barbel at some point, with beats like Backney producing 20+ fish daily. Middle Hill Court is definitely back from a couple of quieter years, with 28 barbel and 13 chub to one angler - not bad considering the beat is "overgrown" and we've "lost the best bit" to the salmon fishery upstream.
Another point on swim clearance is that sometimes swims are not manicured one year due to other factors - a farmer's pump can appear, a nesting swan or other birds will be left alone, and more often than you might think, wasp nests. I have been caught out by this before and it is not pretty! It's hard to run with a strimmer attached to you, visor on, and who knows how many wasps chasing. I've had to dump strimmers before and come back a few days later - so spare a thought before you wonder why last years flyer swim is this year left un-strimmed!
Litter was mentioned a couple of times. This makes my blood boil - I know I have to take it with me because no one else will. We are all guardians of the river and unfortunately people who drop litter are one of those things we will never rid the earth of. My advice is to grit your teeth, don't let it ruin your day and just pick it up. In the end I'm sure the fishing gods will pay you back!
The pools fished well in August too and this is good to hear as by and large they are forgotten about and not as popular as they should be. Pant Y Llyn is still throwing up beautiful wildies, with Trelough containing bigger carp and Quabs with some decent rudd and some pretty impressive chub. If you haven't given them a go I can recommend it.
The Gurus, Dean Macey and Adam Rooney, were down late on in the month and they had a couple of great days fishing the Wye. These guys are firm supporters of the Wye and Usk Foundation and the passion they have for fishing this wonderful river and the WUF fisheries always shows through. I'm not entirely sure when this new episode will be aired but I will keep you posted.
So the misty mornings have started. September is my favourite month and there's so much good fishing to be had. Micro barbel are still very much in on the action and there's been a few reports of multiple captures of these. The larger barbel are in superb condition, bronzed from the summer sun and low levels. Chub fishing has slowed (exception HL3!) but I expect this to pick up now and with perhaps a couple of chilly nights then thoughts should move to predator fishing.
We'll be out on features with Improve Your Coarse Fishing and Angling Times and with the acquisition of Permission for Commercial Operation in drone flying, I should be producing more aerial imagery such as the ones you see here. I'll be working with the Foundation in the coming months too and we aim to bring you some interesting images of their operations. For more information please visit www.fromanotherangle.co.uk
In the meantime enjoy September and good luck!
Adam Fisher - www.anglingdreams.co.uk
As with July last year there's been pages of anglers' feedback to go through this month - thank you all for taking the time to submit the form emailed to you by WUF. Not only are they interesting to read, but they give the opportunity for other anglers to see how each stretch is fishing and what they might expect from each fishery. Also, without these reports the Booking Office would have little feedback to what's going on and between us we wouldn't be able to compile this report each month.
July is a month when the catches usually pick up after the start of the season but as the month goes on the river usually drops to summer levels, or even lower, and the fishing can start to get a little more difficult. Following steady rain showers in the upper catchment however, this July the river levels remained up by a few feet for most of the month. What was noticeable, however, was the colour of the water, which was not quite like a full flood river, laden with sediment but with a consistent tinge that resembled algal bloom - visibility was never more than a foot. This colour should have meant that barbel catches were good and, in fact, they were better than good - it was actually one of the best Julys I've ever known, for chub fishing too!
I am not an advocate of catching as many fish as you can for a few reasons. There are long term adverse effects on fish welfare and it also sends a message to anglers that the Wye is easy and that catching lots of fish is the norm. As an angler on Backney pointed out:
"Had some concern about recent reports of catches of 30 to 50 barbel in a day. Fish welfare must be compromised surely. Barbel need to be played with care and recovery must be ensured before returning to the river. How many fish do you need to catch to have a good days fishing anyway?"
However, whilst I agree with the sentiment, it is your fishing at the end of the day and the idea of fishing is to catch fish! I would hope that average summer river conditions where the river becomes low and clear should protect the fish making them harder to catch. This, combined with weed growth for the fish to hide amongst and a general slowing down of visiting anglers during August, should also be a natural protection against "over fishing". Besides, if they don't want to eat I guess they won't! This said, returning barbel safely is paramount. If you do this correctly, fishing one rod and taking your time, then this sport should continue sustainably, just as it has done to date.
From the numerous reports I have to pick a few highlights as always and on this occasion it's going to be of the big catches, as they really are worth mentioning and are just testament to the quality of the Wye as a barbel and chub fishery. I don't believe there's a river in the country that compares right now. Some complain about otter sightings and I know on other rivers this has sadly been a cause of their demise. With the Wye, however, they appear to live in balance with the environment - I just hope I don't come back in months to come with reports of otter damage...at present it is clear that there is no problem as some reports of otter sightings coincided with 30+ catches of barbel!
I've listed some of the catches below as there is nothing really worth saying about them individually, the numbers speak for themselves!
- 1st - KP from Bristol - 25 barbel - Courtfield
- 2nd - KP from West Mids - 12 barbel - Foy
- 3rd - BS from Crawley - 26 barbel 29 chub - Sugwas Court
- 3rd - CP from Buckingham - 14 chub - Foy
- 4th - RS from Merstham - 12 barbel 25 chub - Kerne Bridge
- 4th - MY from Lydney - 25 barbel - Caradoc
- 5th - MS from Hoddesden - 17 barbel 44 chub - Wyebank
- 5th - RS from Merstham - 14 barbel 16 chub - Courtfield
- 6th - RS from Merstham - 52 barbel 60 chub - Wyebank
- 9th - TA from Steyring - 35 barbel - Caradoc
- 11th - HT from Aylesbury - 18 barbel 5 chub - Middle Hill Court
- 13th - PH from Hastings - 24 barbel 11 chub - Middle Hill Court
- 14th - PH from Hastings - 26 barbel 8 chub - Middle Hill Court
- 15th - PH from Hastings - 36 barbel 11chub - Middle Hill Court
- 15th - IW from Chelmsford - 50 barbel 50 chub - Backney Lower
- 16th - PN from Ferndown - 20 barbel 70 chub - Backney Upper
- 16th - ST from Stoke - 15 barbel 30 chub - Fownhope 5
- 18th - PN from Ferndown - 22 barbel 21 chub - HL3
- 23rd - MS from York - 41 barbel 39 chub - Fownhope 5
- 27th - AJ from Windsor - 33 barbel 37 chub - Backney Lower
- 28th - JW from Warwicks - 41 barbel 12 chub - Wyebank
Looking at the above reports (and the trend did follow in the lesser catches) sport did slow down towards the end of the month due to the aforementioned usual conditions when the river cleared and the level dropped. This was expected but it was by no means poor fishing I'm sure you'll agree.
There have been a few reports of dogs entering the river in swims, with owners (also of canoeists and walkers) perhaps not considering anglers as one might expect. All I can say is that it is school holidays and overall river use is at its maximum. Anglers have to consider other river users too. Come the end of August there will be less of them and the peace and tranquility of the river should resume.
A real positive since the start of the season is the number of small barbel caught - during a feature for Angling Times and a social the day after, I had over 40 of about a 1lb on the float. This was along with some really nice dace and I will look forward to fishing for these in earnest this autumn, hopefully they'll still be there.
Included in this month's report are a few pics of float fishing for barbel and as the catches inevitable slow down in August, I really suggest you give this method a try. It will keep you cool stood out in the river wading. Although canoe traffic can be heavy, a lunchtime break will mean you avoid the peak times. As I've suggested before, find a nice oak tree and have a snooze to recharge the batteries, ready for the evening action. The leaves start to show their autumn tinges now and the mornings will start to get chilly, so make the most of what summer we have left and enjoy your fishing.
Good luck and please keep the catch returns coming in.
Yet again the start of the season was affected by heavy showers and, as a result, a flooded and coloured river. It was affected in a good way though, especially if you're a barbel angler! Coloured water and higher than normal levels means barbel will move further for a bait and will feed more readily throughout the day. Where the river has been fining down and clearing but still retaining a tinge of colour, the chub fishing has been good too. My theory is that when the river clears the chub tend to split up and take cover for much of the day. The conditions early this season, however, have kept them shoaled up and less spooky. Normally, just before the start of the season they seem to be everywhere, taking mayflies and swirling readily at any flotsam. They then perform a disappearing act come June 16th. The start of this season was different and I caught plenty of chub on bread flake under a loafer float. This provides great sport, especially when you've pre-baited a couple of barbel swims - rather than sitting on your hands waiting for the first cast, you can chub fish for a few hours whilst the barbel are getting confident over your baited swim. I did a feature with improve Your Coarse Fishing on this subject and we caught plenty for the camera - this should be an interesting article and hopefully will get the juices flowing prior to next season. All in all then conditions couldn't really have been better for the June 16th start, and so it proved in the catch reports with all beats seeing some decent action at some point in the first 2 weeks of the season.
Before I get onto the catches, I hope you'd find these images from the NRW and EA gauges interesting. They clearly show how just one heavy shower can raise the river level and in these examples you can see the effects of one after the other. The gauges are a crucial tool in seeing what rain has fallen where and, therefore, what to expect further downstream. From the images you can see the effect of each rainstorm and thus the accumulated level of these storms further downstream. The hydrograph with the sharp spikes is from the River Irfon running into the Wye at Bulith Wells, while the lower image is the Wye 25 miles or so downstream at Bredwardine. If you don't already use the webcams and EA/NRW gauges I urge you to learn how to do so. They will give you a much clearer picture of what kind of river to expect and what changes might occur during your day/week. Such preparation will also give you a better idea of what tactics and gear you might need.
A question asked frequently is "which is the best beat for barbel?" Well, the answer is pretty straight forward: they're all good on their day but it depends what the angler classifies as "best". There are multiple factors such as access, type of water and scenery, not just the quality of the fishing. Some produce the goods for some anglers and not others, and a lot depends on your requirements and expectations. Barbel are prevalent from the tidal reaches right up to above Hay-on-Wye and any beat in between can provide a day to remember when on song. My advice is to select your fishery on the other factors mentioned above. There will probably be some beats that you don't enjoy but there will others that suit and once you have caught a few fish from one, your confidence will be high next time you visit and you will be more likely to be successful.
It wouldn't be an early season monthly report without the mention of vegetation and access! It was a cold spring and everything was late to green up. However, about a week before the start it warmed up and things went mad, leaving a very small window to clear swims ready for the start of the season. Sadly, some anglers saw this as poor management, when the fact is that the conditions just didn't allow us to carry out the necessary work. Where we did people were grateful, but this still didn't stop conflicting reports that just go to show how different people's expectations can be! With regard to Wyastone Leys, anglers are just not fishing downstream far enough. Most head to the upper swims in the wooded area but there's almost a mile of fishing that's not getting a look in and here, in the fields, the banks are as open as they could be without being gravel beaches (see image). Please read the maps carefully and make sure you look at the whole beat, not just a small section and making your judgment from there. Otherwise you're missing out!
From June 16th one angler commented that at Wyastone Leys "it was difficult to actually get to the river" and that "the beat now represents poor value for money". The very next day another angler fishing the same beat wrote that there were "enough swims to allow a bit of moving around to keep in touch with the fish."
Two other reports from Kerne Bridge were equally as conflicting. On the 26th June an angler wrote that "We felt the access to the pegs was dangerous, particularly in the weather conditions we had. At £15 per day ticket, the Wye and Usk could install some sympathetic measures to make the banks safer, particularly in wet conditions." Another angler fishing the same beat on the same day then posted the following comments: "The stretch has better access than many, with steps cut into the banks and ropes in the steeper spots. I have no idea what other anglers are expecting when they complain of poor access, the Wye has mostly natural banks and is not a commercial fishery with nice, flat wooden platforms."
I also saw the following comments on the WUF site from someone fishing Middle Hill Court: "My only word of warning to roving anglers is that only one bank of this beat is fishable and this is just a long field, approx 1/4 mile long, so a more appropriate description should be single bank fishing of approx 1/4 mile!" MHC is one of the best beats on the river and is actually 3 fields and a small wood, totaling about 2/3 mile. The lower end around The Rope Pool is an extremely productive area and there are 4 or 5 swims here along with 4 or 5 at the top end and some fantastic wading (in lower water conditions) halfway and at the bottom end. The far bank is steep and overgrown and although under the same ownership, enabling access to fish here is not necessary to get the best from the fishery. Anglers can rest assured there will be no one (legally) fishing the opposite bank so it is a double bank fishery!
After a report about poor access at the Home fishery, I received this feedback: "Well it was just to say
people not to be put off by the walk as its only half a mile to the beat. Also there are some good swims
you look for them. And also I would have advised people to travel light you don't need a lot of kit!
we got going the fishing was very enjoyable. Canoeists were generally fine apart from the odd stag do.
Our group had 12 barbel and 12 chub. One eel. Most of these fell to stalking tactics. 3 of the barbel
between 11-12lbs. And we had several pushing doubles. My friend reckoned he lost one even bigger at
It was all positive and I only wanted to post something as sometimes people are so negative and gives people the wrong idea."
Moving on to the other catch returns, it's been good to hear of a few different double figure barbel so early in the year. Courtfield produced 4 to 10-7, including 2 on opening day, one of which was JA from Somerset's first double from the Wye. The Creel also produced a stunning fish of 11lb 1oz to SG from Newark. Well done to the anglers who banked these fine specimens, but also to the below:
- - DC from Fleet, 4 barbel, 3 chub on opening day from How Caple Court
- - GW from Milton Ernest, 5 barbel from Backney
- - AM from Dorchester with 14 barbel
All the beats fished well on the opening few days actually, especially Sugwas Court, Whitney, Perryhill, Middle Hill Court and Caradoc. From there the catches continued and on the 19th and 20th things really got going:
- - RM from Selsdon caught 10 barbel from Backney
- - SS from Berkeley caught 20 chub at Fownhope 5
- - Middle Hill Court and Holme Lacy 3 really stood out by producing 25 barbel & 25 chub
Wyastone, Courtfield and Fownhope 5 also continued to fish well, with catches of 12 barbel, 18 barbel, 8 barbel & 13 chub.
Levels were high, which would normally make Foy Bridge a little tough, but PT from Dewsbury who went there hoping to float fish but had to change to feeder tactics, duly caught 9 barbel and 4 chub.
As the month moved on, and the river levels rose and fell, the Creel and Courtfield stood out, with catches of 10 barbel in a day a regular occurrence. On the 24th the fishing peaked at Backney, where LP from Brentwood caught 32 barbel from the Monument - that's some going.
Towards the end of the month there were some even better catches elsewhere. Backney Upper & Lower produced 19 and 20 barbel in a day respectively, the Creel produce 24 and RH from Manchester had a cracking day at Wyebank catching 20 barbel and 15 chub.
So, to sum up this year's opening month, the fishing up and down the Wye has been excellent and I expect this to continue into July as the river remains topped up.
A tip for July would be on consistency of a feeder mix. I like to make sure my mix is wet, so once on the river bed it breaks down and feeds the swim very slowly. An ideal consistency is such that when you've played a fish the mix is still in the feeder cage (see pic). This has several benefits:
- In high flows it doesn't wash away well downstream and gets the fish to "come up" to the feeder.
- It adds as extra weight so that you don't have to use 4oz+ feeders. A 2oz feeder full of groundbait probably weighs more like 3 or 4oz.
- You don't overfeed the swim and just enough gets washed out in a trail to attract the fish.
- The barbel are more likely to eat your hookbait, not the loose feed.
Also, a quick word on canoeists, who have been out in force this month. Although this a lovely pastime it seems the hire companies don't encourage the customers to have any regard for other river users and there have been numerous groups using the river recently screaming, shouting, playing loud music, defecating, urinating into the river in front of anglers, dropping litter, trespassing, fishing from canoes, etc - the list of bad behavior seems endless.
If we are to all get along, identification of these boats is essential. At the moment, and despite there being a licencing scheme for boat hirers in Herefordshire, there is literally no way of identifying miscreants or the company they hired the canoe from and this is the main problem as I see it. Some have a pathetic little sticker on the back which is barely legible over a distance of about 2m, let alone from the bank. If there was an accident there is no way of identifying them to the emergency services. If they give an angler a mouthful, hurl abuse or breach the Navigation Authority's code of conduct in some other way, they can drift on downstream wrapped in the safety blanket of anonymity. How hard can it be to have every craft registered with a clearly identifiable number, like all other vehicles?
I don't wish to sound like a certain habitually gloomy salmon fishing blogger who posted the following on the weekend, but he has a point:
"Transgressions by the ever increasing number of canoeists continues to escalate with ever increasing
numbers using the river on a yearly basis. Some of these people camp overnight on the banks and often
have fishing rods with them 5 were recently found fishing among a party of about 15 who had hidden
canoes in a maize field on the Whitney beat. Not for the first time either that camping has taken place
there. Were aggressive when asked to move off which they reluctantly eventually did. They were
apparently eastern Europeans (And before anyone asks does that make a difference - NO that's just the
Someone, somewhere has to get a grip on a situation which is becoming untenable in many areas and will only get worse unless some form of control is exercised."
I fully agree the situation has got to be got under control. It's affecting my business and that of many others, let alone the damage it's doing to the environment and the tranquility of a river that is designated SAC &SSSI. We pay the EA to have a rod licence, which we must carry on our person when fishing so that we can be identified. Can't they pay the Navigation Authority (EA) to have a boat licence so that the river can be more effectively policed? Other river users (not just anglers) are being negatively affected by boat loads of people who contribute nothing to the long term sustainability of this environment. It just doesn't make sense. Gggrrrr!!. Rant over.
To finish on a happier note...... the river is performing as well as it can and with two or more months of summer ahead, there's so much fishing to look forward to. Good luck and Enjoy!
Apologies for the lateness this month - not only was I waiting for all the end of season returns to come in but a suspected case of leptospirosis has had me in quite a knot. For those of you who are not familiar with this horrible bug, please make sure you wash your hands during and after being waterside. Fortunately things didn't develop into full Weil's disease and so I escaped full internal organ failure. It was, however, equivalent to a crash diet and all I have to do now is keep the weight off ready for my summer wardrobe!
Normally, the end of the river season can be quite productive and a look back at the reports shows this to be especially so last year. But with chilly winds and a weather front that fell as snow on the upper catchment, March 2016 went from looking ok to not very good at all, in just a few days. When the sun does break through at this time of year it can be enough not only to warm the heart of the angler but to also penetrate the water layers and kick the chub and the barbel into some sporadic feeding. I think rather than warm the temperature of the water though, the sun's rays actually get down to the fish and warms them directly (just like us). The middle of the day is often best and I always encourage anglers to fish this time rather than disappear for a pub lunch. Dusk is always worth a go too and the witching hour is the witching hour wherever and whatever you're fishing for.
The turn of the month did see the river lower and clearer than it had been for months but this soon changed the moment I even looked at the trotting rod in the garage! A deluge of snow and rain hit the catchment and a dirty, flooded river followed. Fingers remained crossed, however, and with a good forecast for the last few days hopes were high. After the warm spell arrived on the 10th there was an initial flush through from the snow melt but as this cleared towards the 14th the catches improved.
I managed one of few pike trips with good friend Nigel Botherway, and I was lucky enough to witness a fabulous brace of pike to him, both fish over 20lbs and well deserved after seasons of hiking and driving and cancelled trip after cancelled trip this year. It all came good in the end though and due to a shortage of sardines at the local supermarket we ended up using herring - the new bait for Wye pike? They are now! Along with catching a decent pike myself (on herring), I witnessed another good mate Rich Attewell catch a pb grayling, 2oz short of the magic number at 2-14. We caught some good chub that week too and these were as obliging as ever, despite the cold, flooded water. Since the 14th I have spent some time carp fishing and these fish has started to get their heads down now, so lakes such as Trelough and Quabs are worth visiting this spring.
Although the start of the month was cold there were a few barbel caught (3 from Backney, 3 from the Creel, 2 from Courtfield) and although the chub were not really showing up here they certainly were up river where SW from Walsall caught 8 from Sugwas. There was then a dead period where the aforementioned rain and snow stopped play but on the 11th there were the first signs of things picking up. How Caple Court produced 6 barbel and as we went onto the 12th things got even better. MK from Boston landed 4 barbel and 7 chub from Middle Hill Court, Wyastone produced a couple and Fownhope 5 gave up a great March days fishing to SK from Tenby with 5 barbel and 4 chub. Courtfield became fishable for pike at this time too, and JB from Bracknell landed 4 to 12lbs - this is a great sign of things to come as pike fishing in this part of the river has been unusually hit and miss the last couple of seasons. For up to date reports on fishing this area of the river there's an excellent website and blog here http://www.lowerwyefishing.co.uk
Sport continued into the 13th with RW from Cadnam landing 8 barbel from Backney and PB from Havant with 4 barbel and 4 chub from Sugwas Court. Meanwhile How Caple Court produced nothing, proving that it can still be very hit and miss. More consistent were the catches of grayling. They appeared from just about every lower Wye beat and although I wouldn't say they're in numbers enough to be targeted as specifically as in the upper reaches or on other rivers such as the Irfon, it is always pleasing to hear of them being caught anywhere. As a boy I used to find them all through the Garren Brook and even now I believe the odd one should still be caught on the fly.
The last day was one of the best for years and beats such as White House produced the goods again - 15 barbel were caught to an angler here last spring. This is a well underfished beat considering the quality of access and although you do get rods on the opposite bank occasionally, there's enough water here to avoid them. It's always been a kind fishery to me and anyone who hasn't yet ticked this off their list then I recommend they do. PS from Stroud caught 5 barbel on the 14th, with Middle Ballingham also producing chub and barbel that day. Sugwas Court threw up grayling as well as chub and barbel but by far the most notable captures were from the Creel and Fownhope 5, where DW from Cirencester and LS from London caught 11 barbel each from these stretches. By St Patricks day the river was in perfect trotting condition, bottle green and witha haze of hatching insects and rising fish - typical!
So despite it all looking grim there was some good fishing to be had towards the end of the season. Granted this wasn't as good as last year but following such a miserable winter it was just nice to be out there and enjoying the early spring sun. Looking forward, there's the stillwaters waking up and I have an article out in Improve Your Coarse Fishing which should get the juices going.
If you're looking for somewhere for the start of the season then I suggest you don't leave it too much longer as most beats are booked up. Bookings are being made for right into October too, so again don't delay if you can make a date to work to. Things will be pretty lush come June 16th but have patience, the vegetation will die back and with a little effort you could find a whole new world of fishing rather than getting wound up expecting steps and railings and swims the size of your car worn out ready for all your kit. Relish in the fact you are one of the first there and if you don't do too much damage then no one else will find your swim for weeks. You could get saving for those waders now too, and if you want some guidance on using them and getting the most from fishing this way then please don't hesitate to get in touch with me - I love fishing this way and take great pleasure in showing others.
When booking Wyastone Leys next season, please take note that Boys Rocks pool is no longer part of the fishery. Although this has been a productive area in recent seasons, there is plenty of good fishing in the swims at the top of the new limit, and downstream into the meadows is some of the best fishing available. Occasionally these losses do happen and it's actually the beauty of the booking scheme for owners: adjustments to beat limits or parking arrangements can be made at the drop of a hat. On a lighter note I hear on the grapevine that there are new Wye coarse fisheries lined up for the 2016/17 season, so watch this space for more information.
The next monthly report will be at the end of June, hopefully after a great start to the river season and not too many canoes!
February 2016, the month when winter finally arrived! Although we have had such a prolonged warm and wet spell, it doesn't take long for a change in conditions to take place, and what a change it was. There were days when temperatures barely got above freezing and if not properly kitted up, the cold was a bit of a shock to the system. Despite the improving river conditions not many anglers' reports came into WUF and to be fair, it seemed not many fished at all across the rivers. It's interesting looking back on my report from last year to compare what happened then, and just as I was about to type I found I was going to repeat myself - February really can be an all or nothing month for catching fish!
Between long spells of no fishing I managed to get out and catch a few nice pike, the fish again being in excellent condition following months of floods. A good number of chub were caught too, including during the afternoon after last month's report was submitted. I suggested then that when the river is in between floods (especially when it is fining down) these fish can almost crawl up the line, especially when using home made cheese paste or even just good old bread. The bites are usually gentle but you still need to hold onto your rod and be ready to strike. As the bite develops give the fish line so it doesn't feel the resistance of the rod tip, then make sure you hit and hold as they know where every snag in the river is! This is a really rewarding way of fishing that can be extremely productive in this type of river condition.
During the main icy blast of the month I was stood in a freezing river having one of the best grayling sessions I've ever had. Between us we caught some superb fish, the biggest a monster that although looked every ounce of 3lbs, fell just 2oz shy. I'd like to say well done to my mate Rich for that capture.
Anglers' reports were mixed with Courtfield giving up 4 pike to JB from Bracknell. This shows the fishery's true potential as although it can be moody it has plenty of good days. Preston Court has not featured much in reports this winter, which is a shame as it's one of the higher up coarse beats that being slow and deep, should produce during the winter. DB managed 4 chub from there describing it as a "truly wild beat" and saying that he couldn't wait to return. AF from Crewe also had a cracking day on the chub at Fownhope 5 on the 29th , just as the river reached its lowest for months and the water had turned a bottle green colour. 15 chub were banked from Fownhope 5, all on my favourite of chub baits - bread. Nicely done!
On the days I could fish the dawns were beautiful and the river was in great shape again and, to be honest, after the winter we've had any chance was welcome. I was reluctant to go out at the start of the month however, as on a cold and snowy Tuesday I was asked to join a film crew up at Pant Y Llyn to try and catch the wild carp up there. Carp fishing in February? We must have been mad. It proved that way too as between 3 of us we blanked. Still, the show was about fishing in harsh conditions, so with that in mind it worked out perfectly! I'm not sure when or where it will be shown but will flag it up in future reports when I know more.
So, with just 2 weeks left of the season you may wonder where it's gone. I know I do. It only seems like yesterday I was planning a winter pike campaign. Now I won't fish for them again for another 8 months or so. Coarse fishing attentions will be on a big barbel between now and the 14th but with snow still on the hills and an extremely cold wind, this could be a few days off yet. The sun is certainly getting higher in the sky and there are bird calls that I've not heard since September. I'll be keen to get out just to see the greenery poking through and buds about to burst. My tip for the last couple of weeks would be to look really hard at the bare river banks and the swims, committing them to memory because when you return on June 16th the vegetation will be head high and ledges and steps will be obscured.
All is not lost come the 14th of course. The salmon season starts this week, as does the trout and fishing for either species will take you to some great venues at a time of year when perhaps you normally wouldn't venture out. There's plenty of guides out there who can set you up and the Booking Office will give you valuable advice on where to fish and the conditions etc. From now until the stillwaters get going it's a great way to stay next to running water, and your watercraft can only benefit.
Whatever you fish for I hope you enjoy and I wish you the best of luck!
New year, new hope! For most anglers it was for the rain to ease, the frosts to kick in and the rivers to drop and clear. The story in January, however, was similar to most of the winter - just when there looked like enough of a break in the rain to allow conditions to improve, another band would come in from the west and, literally within hours of the rivers being fishable, they would start to rise and colour again. As well as the Wye, the Lugg and Arrow offered virtually no chances. The exception perhaps was the Irfon, which usually runs off relatively quickly but even here, there was only a day or two of realistically fishable conditions. I fished the Wye well upstream of Rhayader and even there the river was icy cold and running fast. Scudding showers left snow settling on the tops of the hills and the glare of the winter sun and cloud caused me to squint all day. The bright orange tip of my float did bury occasionally, as did that of my mate, and we had a fantastic couple of days exploring new water and catching grayling in the wilds.
I love fishing for grayling and although trotting is my preferred method to catch them, for the big, solitary fish it is no competition when compared to using a heavy nymph to explore every inch of the riverbed in deep gravel pools. Oliver Burch's grayling report is well worth a follow for more information on both bait and fly methods for grayling, with a few tales to entertain too.
The 3rd week of January delivered the most exceptional hoar frosts. After such a wet winter the moisture within everything was surely the main contributing factor. There were 2 consecutive days when temps didn't get above freezing and on the second day it didn't get above -5 near Hereford. It was a winter wonderland and although the fog that came with it was thick enough to send even the hardiest angler batty after a while, to be out on the riverbank in those conditions was magical. I was lucky enough to net a mid twenty pound pike on the first of those 2 cold days and fuelled by that capture I prepared for a mission the following day with high expectation........every possible lair covered over 3 miles of river with a trap of the most tempting oily sea bait, but not a twitch on the float! I've yet to experience a more perfect example of how you've never got it sussed in fishing.
What was encouraging was that the one fish caught in those 2 days was in exceptionally good condition. It always leaves me in a state of admiration how nature adapts to surviving what we perceive as a hard time, when we wonder how any fish could survive such conditions for such prolonged periods.
A day later another front came in from the Atlantic and again it was back to this winter's story of rising rivers, the difference this time being the influx of melting snow and ice from the cold snap - aka the "kiss of death" for river fishing.
Reports from January reflected the windows of opportunity I'd experienced with only a handful of anglers managing to fish around the middle of the month. Whitney Court was the only stretch to produce anything worth mentioning, with a couple of pike to TW from Leominster. Whitney Court is made up of a fantastic succession of river beats and following a flood is one of the first middle stretches to clear and become fishable. There's plenty of chub to be caught here but it's the pike that draw my attention. Many big fish are reported as throwing the hooks at the net, or seen following a bait or lure in, but reports of these encounters converted to fish on the bank are scarce. There is an ongoing pike fishing competition on this stretch with prizes from Sportfish up for grabs.
Towards the end of the month one regular WUF angler, SS form Berkeley, caught a couple of barbel from the Creel and again on the 31st from How Caple Court. With no other reports than this, it goes to show that you need to be in it to win it.
Looking ahead, February is the shortest month - 1 day less so this being a leap year - but still from now to the end of the season always flies by. When we reflect on our season I think all anglers wish they'd taken more opportunities to fish, so here's my opportunity to prompt you to grasp a day or even a few hours before March 14th . Imagination is key to getting motivation levels up, that and an hour in the shed going through your tackle. Just from writing this report my inspiration levels are on max. I'm off chubbing this afternoon - the cheese paste in my freezer at its best after defrosting and re-freezing over and over during the last couple of seasons. It's a dull and overcast day (perfect for chub fishing) and the river is clearing but still carrying enough colour for the chub hopefully to be confident. Tomorrow we are due yet another deluge and although I have other things I should be doing, this is one of the few fishing windows that have been offered this winter.
I'll let you know how I get on next month but in the meantime, enjoy your fishing and good luck!