Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Season Closing Weekend – Part 2 – The River Wye

   For Day two I was joined by a close friend, Nick, as we revisited the scene of his first ever barbel.  The Wye is by far my favourite river and I never cease to be amazed by how beautiful it looks even in the worst conditions.  Even fishing my ‘regular’ beats the colours change so vibrantly with the weather and seasons that no trip is ever quite the same.

Day 2 - The River Wye.
   Heavy rain on Friday afternoon and through the night meant the river was going to be up-up-up, so we headed to a floodwater beat that I had confidence in.  Alas, the river was even higher than expected, so much so that there were only two fishable pegs and these were already occupied on our arrival. 

   A quick chat with the incumbant anglers over a brew revealed they had traveled from Essex and Rochester respectively and had fished for two days without a bite.  With this in mind we really didn’t begrudge them the pegs and after giving them a little background to the beat and possible approaches, we wished them luck and went to explore the bank for alternatives. 

Goodrich Castle - overlooks the Wye at Bishopswood.

   Having walked the beat, we were able to confirm assertions that there really weren’t any other pegs on the day ticket water safe to fish.  Fortunately, this particular stretch has some private ‘members only’ water and with a little negotiation with one of the local members, we were kindly allowed to fish here given that it was the closing weekend and the day tickets couldn’t otherwise be used.

   The pegs looked like they should hold fish, with plenty of cover up and downstream and I felt a renewed confidence.  An early visit from a typically good omen, Mr.Robin, further boosted morale and a few leftover maggots from the previous day were duly sacrificed.  I like to think his cheerful chirping was Robin for ‘thank you’, but looking back I wonder if it was a more sagely dispensed wisdom of ‘you’ll catch nowt in this weather you daft sod’.  And so it went.  A few hours on and confidence had waned. 

Wildlife spot of the day - always cheery company on a cold day.
   Nick meanwhile had taken the decision to go roving and was duly rewarded for his impetus.  Not twenty minutes passed from when I lost sight of him before I heard the hallowed shout of ‘fish on!’  A few minutes later and he’d slipped the net under a pristine barbel, a sight I’d all but given up on before the season’s end.

Nick with barbel #1, 6lb 4oz
   Over the celebratory cup of tea which was almost as welcome as the barbel, we strategized over the rest of the afternoon.  Nick gave the same peg another half hour whilst I packed most of our gear into the car.  Now all the nimbler for dispensing with chairs, brollies and countless ‘options’, we spent the rest of the afternoon tackling some of the ‘inaccessible’ pegs with the help of a well anchored rope.

   Only a few minutes passed following a speculative cast on the first and trickiest swim, before Nick’s rod gave that familiar two-foot twitch.  Had it been a chub, he'd have been in trouble, powerless from his bank-top position to stop the fish nose-diving into the overhanging trees and undergrowth on either side.  However, this was clearly no chub and it duly obliged, heading out into the flow away from the snags.  Meanwhile, yours truly anchored the rope and made my way precariously down the ‘slip-and-slide-to-impending-doom’ just in time to net his second barbel of the day.
Barbel #2, 4lb 2oz - and the perilous descent.
Always anchor ropes firmly and use bracken for grip. 
   The following and final hour remained fishless before we had to call it a day, making a point of calling in en-route to visit the other anglers that had traveled from further afield.  They, along with myself and the kindly local member had blanked again.  The feeling was that the cold-blooded barbel simply didn’t have the energy to venture out in search for food and were holed up waiting for water temperatures to rise.  They were fishing the same beat tomorrow and passing on our feedback of Nick's success, they were going to adopt a roving approach for their final day, as would I on the Severn.

   Kudos has to go to Nick on this occasion, having made the effort to go and find the fish and reaping the reward of a couple of late season barbel.  It can be easy to let confidence drop and retreat behind a brolly when the weather draws in, but Nick proved that luck is what you make of it and sometimes that little extra effort to force a change can pay dividends.

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