Sunday 23 July 2023

Wyeside Revisited.

 My first detour on to the Wye saw me battling freezing cold floodwater, driving 30/40mph horizontal rain and wind, just to top it off I blanked on the Barbel front. The fishing was pants.

 Fast forward a 8 months and I found myself back on the Wye. For weeks Brian and I were super excited to get back up and finally put the Wye hoodoo behind me, the search for a double figure Barbel was underway to get me to the halfway point of my enormous challenge. 

 Brian talked up our chances of having an absolute hatful between us and given what I know about the Wye I felt it would be about right...if we could find them.

 We arrived around 8am and got to work pretty quickly, the plan to begin with was rolling meat, something we are both very adept at doing. Stalking the fish where possible and playing the numbers game...that was until we saw the river, up between one and two feet and dirty / bordering red, we knew immediately we weren't stalking Barbel on this trip!! I stuck with the initial plan and rolled meat.

 Throughout the remainder of the morning and afternoon all I could muster was a few Chub to around mid-3lbs which was not what I was after, nevertheless I was catching.

 After fannying around for a few hours it was pretty clear that given the dirty water and lack of action on the rolling meat a change of approach was needed. Knowing that one of the shallow runs stretches a few hundred yards I could tell where the river started to drop away, which gave way to a steadier flow and somewhere I thought the Barbel might be held up, I dumped the rolling setup in the car and enlisted the gear I had packed for the R.Severn on Saturday.

 Within a couple of hours it was clear my decision to build a swim and work it paid off, after a couple of modest Chub I finally got the bite I wanted, a savage loop round of the tip and a Barbel was on the end, just not a very big one, nevertheless they all count and my quest on the R.Wye was underway. Not long after I was away again, with a better fish of about 3lbs which tells how big the first was! Then within 45 mins the third Barbel of the evening slipped into the net which again was slightly bigger at 5lb+.

Perfectly formed scamp.

 However it wasn't all glitz and glamour. At one point I was connected to a much better fish that I reckon was around 8lbs, a good fish and one that was nearly ready for the net when it made one last dash for the middle of the river and in doing so brushed past something sharp ( suspected rock ) and the 12lb hooklink broke about 2'' above the hook, gutted!

 Things after that started to improve as the fish got bigger and ending up the evening with a new Wye best of 6lb 8ozs. The following morning held much promise for the swim I had ticking over. 

6lb 2oz

6lb 7oz

 A quick scoot down from Brian's mum and dads place to the river was in order to try and get the most out of the peg I finished up in the previous evening. Action didn't take long to resume and I had another 6lb+ Barbel and a couple of Chub before getting another savage take which felt like I was connected to better fish, out in the flow she hung for most of the fight before kiting straight into the margins where the net was ready! 

8lb 4oz and another Wye PB.

 Another PB Wye Barbel for me of 8lb 4oz, I was very happy the weights were going in the right direction and hoped things would only get better. However, sadly they didn't. Infact after breakfast bites almost totally dried up and my hopes of a double figure Wye Barbel were slipping until the moment the rod came in and proceedings had come to an end on the second day. 11 Barbel my total across the two days which totalled 25hrs of angling, with six over 6lbs with the best 8lb 4oz, to be fair given the conditions yet again were against me I think I did quite well. Business not yet complete here, I shall be back with a firm target in mind.

Sunset over our Wye adventure.

Wonderfully fresh Red Admiral.

Plan B, C and D all scuppered by the weather, Saturday morning we headed off to fifth choice be continued. 

 Just coming away from the trip as it were I have read quite a bit about the parasite ( Argulus Foliaceus ) which latches onto the fish and penetrates the flesh and has a set of hooks that bed them into the fish and then feed off the blood stream, almost all of the fish I caught were carrying them, some 5-10 parasites, other fish had as many as 20 on them, for most of the fish I removed all I could find, horrible looking creatures and from what I understand they haven't been in the Wye and Severn systems long, I feel if something doesn't happen soon the infestation could claim a lot of fish owing to infection. 

 Most of the fish I removed parasites from I sprayed the areas with ESP Carp Doctor which hopefully creates a decent barrier to enable the fish to overcome any issues caused by their unwanted hitchhikers. 

 Anyone fishing the Wye, Severn and indeed any other water in that Wye and Severn catchment do keep an eye for it, if the fish you catch do have them as gross as it is, remove what you can and treat the latched areas, just help the fish out a bit! Oh and don't throw or flick the lice into the water, they swim very well, try to do on land and check nets, weighing slings and mats before leaving to ensure you don't inadvertently transport them to another watercourse that may well not have such a parasite.

Tuesday 11 July 2023

Afloat Again.


 Back on the Rudd again with Brian on Saturday just gone. A trip that appeared to hang in the balance owing to the typical British weather, with heavy rain and thunderstorms forecast we wondered whether sat in a boat with carbon fishing rods in the middle of the fens was a good idea. One thing we have learned over the years is that A: neither of us are sensible when it comes to decisions made regarding angling, B: the weather forecasts are rarely accurate. 

 With such "Fentastic" angling on offer we decided that we were going to go anyway! 3am the alarm went off, 0320 I was showered and car loaded, 0330 I was leaving my house for Brian's in S.London and by 0545 we were at our launch site, serenaded by birds still going through their morning rigours.

 The really early start was in anticipation that we may have our visit curtailed, which we would do if things got too close for comfort, straight away we hunted down fish among the eel grass where we would see fish darting in and out of, the bigger looking to seek cover under the miles of reed and pads systems which they use so effectively to remain concealed, but when one gives its position away we would try to get their confidence up by feeding copious amounts of crust and aim for fish we perceived as being "decent".

Mint 1.8

 It was a slow start with some nice fish being caught but nothing big which was slightly frustrating but we know very well how quickly that all changes, but they are very pretty fish and size almost doesn't matter!  

A nice one of 1.10

 The cloud started to build around 11am and thought that the system was closing in on us and that we were going to have think about heading for the launch site, some 3miles from where we were fishing at the time, coupled with boisterous swans we had parts of the system isolated from us which was quite frustrating but angry cobs in an inflatable rib is no match.

 Thankfully I did find a bigger fish which settled on 2lb 1oz which we hoped would be the start of a good run of better fish. 

That's better :) 

 We pressed on with our hunt as the clouds slowly gathered weight and streaks could be seen getting closer and then....

 It trashed it down! Mercifully, not for long and lighter clouds could be seen beyond the system that was currently dumping on us, with that we decided to ride it out and see if we could get some more better fish as the smaller fish were really feeding hard and the larger fish seemed to be hiding away from us.

 I slowly edged my way to the total of 18 Rudd, amazingly less than half were over a pound, with only the one over two-pounds, a big fish day it was not, however its always great fun powering around the fens with Brian and just generally fecking around talking nonsense all day!  


 Also for the ornathologists out there here's a video of a Bittern flying past us in the boat.

Bittern in flight

Monday 10 July 2023

Another Piece in the Jigsaw.

 Miles of nettles and Himalayan balsam, untouched banks of the River ColnBrook have made reccy's very challenging, almost completed neglected it sounds like heaven with fish (in this case Barbel) completely unhindered but trying to target a place where there are no swims is a challenge. 

 Last season I found some Barbel fairly early on and managed a fish of 5lb 6oz, I looked to use last seasons experience as a springboard for this season. Targeting the same section I did last season I hoped to find a fish or two. With undergrowth dominating the banks it was a tough ask getting to the bank but managed it in a few places and fed 4mm pellet and hemp via a bait dropper onto gravel patches upstream of bushes and overhanging trees and with only a two-hours available on this occasion I had to get to work. 

 So I settled down in one peg which I baited first but nothing happened inside half an hour so a move was on the cards and popped 40 yards or so downstream to a slightly easier to fish peg and no sooner did the bait go in I got a couple of gentle taps on the split cane which had me tuned in immediately. With the tree cover I couldn't see in but hoped it wasn't Chub as I know there are some corkers present ( my best out of the ColnBrook weighing 6lb 5oz ). After ten minutes the rod savagely pulled round and was hooked into a powerful fish that moved around the swim with gusto, under control the whole time I allowed it some room to play as I'd previously fished this peg last season and leaded around to find no snags. 
 It wasn't the battle of a big fish and so it would prove as a scamp of a Barbel surfaced before continuing the scrap shortly then succumbing to the net, correct species and another ColnBrook Barbel.

 In pristine condition just like the 5lb fish I had last season, this one of a similar size, quite possibly has never seen an angler, ever and that's what I like about this river, yes its a b*tch to navigate but once the exhausting work has been done then fish can be found, I am just hoping I can find that big fish I saw last season that I couldn't find once the smaller one nailed the bait, it shot off and was never seen again. 

 The task is to find that fish ( which I estimated at 11lbs ) or of similar ilk to achieve what I want from the river as I've already completed its sister river, the Colne.

 I popped that one back and trickled a little more pellet and hemp in and sat back and listened to the Ashes commentary which wasn't quite going to plan. About ten minutes before I was going to pack away my rod without hesitation lurched downstream, I was away again but within seconds of connecting with what felt like a heavy fish it went through a snag and it was gone, cutting 12lb flourocarbon like it was cotton candy! was it a Barbel? or a Carp?...I'll never know but I have my suspicions.

 Once that happened I packed the gear away and bait-droppered 3 loads of pellet and hemp into all three spots, primed for a return at some point next week.

Blackwater Returns.

   Throughout my teenage years I spent many thousands of hours targeting Barbel in low gin clear rivers and really hammered home my love for...