It's been roughly a month since my last visit to the Wye and really wanted to get back this year before things got tough. Recently we have faced vast amounts of rain and most rivers across the country have been in flood and not just a little bit, some rivers like the Wye have been very very high, highest that some areas have experienced in a generation! not to be deterred I made plans to get up there and fish for Barbel.
|3.1m on, nice!|
Of course my prime target was to catch a double figure Barbel and chalk off the R.Wye but given the conditions I did feel that I would be aiming at just a handful of fish across the time I set aside which this time around was 3 days ( I looked to divide that across the Wye and Severn ). After completing a very long drive to the Wye via the office of Drennan HQ to collect the key for the section I'm currently targeting I got a glimpse to what I would be faced with and even I was a little surprised at how high it was.
For about 4/5 days leading up to Wednesday I'd been religiously watching the levels of both rivers at various stages in the course to build a picture of how it should look come midweek. With high levels on the Lugg yet to pass and stubborn main river levels the Wye barely dropped and indeed at times began to rise again during my time there. This did however make one part of my trip easier, the amount of water to target had been drastically reduced to half a dozen good looking marginal slacks, 6oz didn't reach the bottom out in the flow such was the force of the river, so I was left with the margins.
I opted to hedge my bets across two baits, one being the ever-faithful Spam and the other boillie and paste combo to try and put a decent and consistent scent trail in through the murky water which I hoped would lure a tentative Barbel into the area and snaffle one of the baits. Owing to the colour and the water temp of 10.1c on Wednesday I opted to move the baits around each slack every 30-60min just incase in the colder water they became more slovenly.
|One of the rare moments it wasn't grey and grim.|
I fished numerous good looking slacks over the course of the ensuing 7hrs without more than a tap from what I suspect were very subdued Chub of the small variety, that was until I was halfway through a phone-call with Brian nattering about the goings on or lack of on the Wye when my paste rod absolutely slammed round with no indication that something was afoot, all out savagery and the battle was very impressive in the current as the Barbel made its presence known. For the first minute or so I was quite worried as I could feel what turned out to be the hook-length and line rubbing on a rock, at the time I could just feel grating but wasn't sure until I got it in to inspect it all.
This fish which was certainly a Barbel and a good one at that as it just kept going, fully charged and gave a superb account of itself, long lung busting runs up and down but completely measured at the same time with nothing remotely erratic at all, typical traits of big Barbel, problem was I left my torch in the car, so I had to do it all in the dark which was not easy, luckily for me my night vision is bloody good, upon the second time of asking I slipped what looked like a good Barbel over the cord of the net, she was mine and bloody well deserved if I may say so myself, I worked hard for that bite which actually turned out to be my only bite of the trip! But I'll touch on that afterwards.
I staked the net down with a bank-stick and hiked back to the car and back, not knowing how big this fish actually was I was still chatting with Brian the whole way through, a running commentary if you like, the sense of anticipation was building, would it be pure elation or an anti-climax? From the title of the blog you have probably already guessed it missed the mark.
Not to feel down it still is a big Barbel for the Wye at 9lbs 10oz, just not quite as big as I really hoped, she looked like it could be when I lifted out of the water for the first time, but just not filled out enough but such as life, I go again!
|A new R.Wye PB, the weight of my lead off the magic mark.|
I took a couple of pics and a short video of her disappearing into the murky waters before recasting where I hoped there would be one or two more holding steady in the slacker water, unfortunately for me the rest of the evening passed by without incident, which was pretty much how the first part of day two unfolded.
Prolonged showers and strong gusty wind made for a miserable few hours on Thursday morning where I again, tried those slacks I tried yesterday, with the water temp falling further ( now below the magic 10c mark ) and rising river levels once again I decided it wasn't worth anymore of my time and opted to target the Severn instead which, just like the Wye was up and very coloured but in a better state than the Wye.
I targeted a section I've spent a bit of time on now and know some of the good floodwater swims from friends who frequent the river and found myself hopping from spot to spot every hour to try and land on a Barbel before kicking off time. I took a temp reading and it proved grime reading, 9.2c and the river was rising upstream once again, that for me was the end, conditions and fishing were only going to get harder and felt by remaining on the river I was running a fools errand, so I loaded the car and made the 163mile journey back home to delight of the mrs a whole 24hrs early! I'll keep that 24hrs in credit 😅
|A beautiful autumnal riverscape.|
That was bloody hard, but very nearly pulled it out of the fire. Even as I write this on Friday night as the kids sleep my gear is drying out, it really did piss it down, thank god for my 25k suit! bailed me out.