Well, after the success of my fly-fishing for trout last week, I had this uncontrollable craving to get back to Woody’s Tackle shop in Hereford and get another crack at the River Wye. Barbel and Chub had been the previous targets, and both were achieved with some degree of success considering I had never fished the swims before. In fact actually finding the right swims was the most worrying aspect as many times I have ended up fishing in the wrong place, sometimes by a matter of yards. I’m sure you have all been there at some stage. This time I decided on 3 days, the Wye is a bit of a drive for me so I checked in a B & B for a couple of nights. I have been trying to fathom out how the River Wye actually works. Is it going up..down..or sideways. For that I kept checking the river Wye gauge site, trying to work out if the “bumps” on the graph were actually controlled releases from the dam upstream, if rain had fallen, or if one particular valley had heavy rain and the surge showing was just from that one valley. I could work out none of it, so far better just to phone Woody and get the lowdown on how it was on the Hereford Angling Association day ticket stretch.
As it happened it looked to be dropping, so I hatched a plan that was sure to end with huge success, and more filming opportunities than my memory cards could store. 1st sesh Barbel, Chub, or whatever. Then the river would drop and clear slightly making excellent conditions to get among the famous River Wye Pike on the following day. 3rd day it would be lower and clear, making ideal conditions for making a Chub on float film. Or so I thought. Day one…. Went to the swim to finish off a bit of filming on swimfeeders that I had done at home in the Totally Awesome workshop. All I needed was a couple of fish. 2nd cast out with the feeders and the rod was away in a bend that could only mean Barbel. I was on 8mm banded trout pellets, with 4mm coarse pellet feed and that Japanese sea groundbait that I featured in a previous carp film. The Barbel was filmed, and over the next hour I had a couple of Chub, which were all camera fodder. Then the swim died for 4 hours and I was thinking I had blown out when I picked up 3 more Barbel in the late afternoon. I had already “done” 6 feeders in boulders, snags, weed, whatever, so when an obviously powerful fish buried itself I was on tenterhooks. It seemed solid, but when I slacked off and watched the tip I could see the throbbing movement of the fish still there. It would have been simple for an angler to think he was just in a snag and not a fish, then pull for a break, but having had my share of “buried” Barbel over the years I was pretty sure it was the feeder hung up in the weed. Working my way as far down stream as I could I kept tightening, then slacking, for around 15 minutes, often leaving the rod totally slack for several minutes at a time. Suddenly I locked up and felt the fish kick the feeder free. I had been lucky, and when it came in close I could see it was a clonker. With the net underneath it I lifted and could tell it was a really good one. I would say it was very close to 11lbs, certainly a double, but I don’t have scales so when you see the film you can judge for yourself. It was a cracker and in pristine condition.
So you can see Day Two and I was in Sainsbury’s loading up with Sardines in the hope I would have no trouble getting a Pike film. Apparently there had been 4 twenties out of the match stretch in that week, and I met 2 other pike anglers on the bank. Well, let me tell you I twitched, wobbled and wound that Sardine through what must have been miles of river. I then cranked my top Buster Jerk pike lure through swims that screamed Pike. Twice I met the other pike anglers. They were fishless like me, so what on earth was that all about? I went upstream, fast water, slow water, ripples, slacks, overhangs. I could not even raise a strike from a 2lb Jack. I finished, after 8 hours flogging a 2 mile stretch, with not one pike. A bit bemused I decided not to push the pike fishing the last day, but go for Chub on the float. With the trolley loaded I hauled all the cameras, tripod and tackle right to the top end of the fishery, where I had been directed for Chub. I passed several anglers. One had a 2lb Chub, the others were on a blank. Not to worry, I knew I was going to catch. After 2 biteless hours and 6 swims fished I was totally biteless. What to do? It meant packing up totally and driving all the way back to the Barbel swim but I reckoned it would be my best shot. The river had dropped another good bit, and was starting to run clear, but there were a lot of leaves coming down with the current. By 2pm I had the bait out in the Barbel swim. Alas I had not a single bite, and that included staying right up to the Barbel angler’s magic witching hour of fading light. So ended my assault on the Wye and I can see now that you need to get those flow, depth and colour conditions spot on. Talking with the bailiff as I packed up he said the whole of the section had fished really badly and he put it down to extremely cold water coming down. I can vouch for that having had my hand circulation pretty much stop while doing underwater camera work. It was like a glacial melt runoff in June in the Fraser River, British Columbia!!
My own opinion keeps coming back to poor fishing during areas of high pressure, and we all know “when the wind is in the East, the fishes bite the least”. If we get high pressure coinciding with the Easterly wind flow I think I shall avoid fishing altogether. Oh well, it’s a case of back to the drawing board, and the head scratching of where I can go next for a bit of decent fish filming….Good luck out there, and you see high pressure from the East, stay at work !