As I eat up the miles on the M4 heading for the Welsh boarders, my mind slowly clears of work distractions and fills with thoughts of hard fighting barbel. My destination today is to be the River Wye, to a section I have not set eyes on before. The fact I have not fished this particular stretch before doesn’t worry me, as I have yet to discover a spot on this magnificent river that has disappointed.
As the car approaches the river’s valley and the lanes narrow, my spirits are lifted higher when I spot an early morning Pheasant, hedge hopping. I slow to take in the surroundings, my GPS tells me I am close to my destination. This is confirmed as I see her meandering through the fields to my right.
I pull into the car park and look down the field to the river that is a short walk away.
As I unpack my tackle from the boot of the car I am conscious of travelling light. When approaching a section of river for the first time there is often a lot of walking involved and it pays to be selective of essential items only. One of these is a flask full of tea and after walking down to the rivers edge it is time to pour a cup.
The previous day, Storm Doris had blown through and deposited what must have been a large quantity of rain on the Welsh hills as the river was swollen and pacy.
Tackle for the day was a 4oz cage feeder (to hold in the flow), 3ft fluorocarbon hook link, size 8 barbless hook along with my trusty 1 3/4lb barbel rod and 4000 size reel spooled with 10lb breaking strain Gardner Hydro Tuff line. Bait was to be hair rigged pellet and softened pellet in the feeder.
Casting out for the first time gave me a good idea of how strong the flow was, and it was clear from the off that I would need to find a more sheltered spot that offered an opportunity for the feeder to hold. Often some dead weed or debris would pull the feeder out of position and you would see large trees floating quickly past you.
After about two hours a local dog walker mentioned that the river was about 3 metres up on normal levels and that was after falling 2 metres from the day before. This offered some encouragement as I realised that the level was still falling. With falling water levels, there appeared to be reduced flow, meaning better presentation and after a short wait from a recast the rod tip registered a bite.
The fight was just what I have come to expect from a Wye barbel and after a spirited battle I slid the net under a pristine fish of 8lb.
As the water level dropped further, this first fish was followed, in the next two hours by fish of 5lb 8oz and 6lb 7oz.
The Wye does what it does best, and that is, deliver the goods with stunning scenery and hard fighting fish. You may ask, why travel so far to fish for a few hours? Do I really need to answer that?