I often get asked which is the best river that I’ve ever fished and my answer is always the same, the river Wye! There are several reasons including the delightful countryside and the fantastic wildlife, but above all it’s the only river where I’ve never blanked. PAAS control two large sections of the river.
Being a wild natural river don’t expect commercial style pegs or easy access to swims during the height of summer. Nettles and other vegetation will be high so I recommend a fold up spade and strong gloves to clear swims early season, but always keep some cover. Streamer weed is also present in abundance so choosing a swim is important. I look for clear patches to place my bait giving me the best chance of landing fish without too much difficulty.
The fishing here can be really good as the river holds good numbers of chub, barbel, pike and silver fish along with some carp. My targets are the barbel which average 6lb to 8lb with doubles also a possibility and chub which average 4lb to 5lb.
My tactics are ground bait feeder with either a boilie or pellet on a hair. Rods are 2lb tests along with baitrunner style reels loaded with 10lb mono and 8lb or 10lb barbel line hook lengths. The ground bait is important I believe for what it requires is activating fish to feed without over feeding your target species. I use a good quality barbel ground bait mixed with cheaper breadcrumb, hemp and small feeder pellets. This always works in my experience and I rarely, if ever throw hookbaits in as free offerings.
Canoes are regularly on the river so on a recent visit I cooked some food and made a mug of tea until it became quieter after 6pm. Having dug out some steps to safely land and return fish I prepared my ground bait before baiting one rod with pellets and the other with boilie. I always use two landing nets if using two rods and often go to one rod if the bites come thick and fast. The boilie rod attracted no interest but after just two casts the pellet rod began to twitch. It was only 7.30pm so this was promising. My first barbel of 6lb 8ozs came to my net at just before 8pm and after a spirited fight took some time to recover hence the two nets!
As I fished on until just before midnight three more barbel came to my net the best going 8lb 4ozs. The swim hadn’t been fished for some time and four good fish was typical of this river. I’d called here after two days and nights at Hay on Wye where I’d only had three barbel and one chub and where some of our group hadn’t had a bite!
The weather had been hot and the river level was below average but I found a swim carrying a good flow with lots of streamer weed present. The barbel here fight hard so it’s very important to rest them before releasing them, even if this means stopping fishing for a while. Over many years I’ve also found that the second day can be better than the first providing that you can cast to the same area regularly. I use the twenty-minute rule, recast every twenty minutes until the bites develop. After that it’s recast after every fish.