End of June and It’s Time for Barbel

The last day of the month had arrived and an early start found my brother-in-law Ber and myself heading along the M4 motorway for a days fishing on the River Wye. Our chosen quarry today was Barbel, with some Chub thrown in if we’re lucky.

View on arrival

Arriving at our destination in good time, we selected just enough tackle, bait and refreshment to keep us going for the day. Choosing a feeder fishing approach meant we would leave the float gear in the car just in case we needed a change of tact later in the day. We traced the path down to the river and found it coloured from the previous days rain and with enough flow to offer us encouragement.

Walking three fields down river to the end of the beat, our idea was to work our way back up during the day until we found the fish.

Tackle for the Wye needs to be strong. On the day we chose a 1 3/4 lb test Barbel rod each, 4000 sized reel, 12 lb line and 3oz feeders packed with Groundbait and pellet. Ber started on hair-rigged boilie and I started with hair-rigged pellet.

It wasn’t long before Ber started getting line bites indicating that fish were in his swim and eventually he had the bite that gave him the first fish of the day; a nice Chub of about 4 pounds to get the session off to a great start. He was obviously on a roll as his next fish was a nice Barbel that didn’t want to be photographed for the album. This was his first ever Barbel, and well, needless to say he was a happy man.

A great Barbel for Ber that wasn’t camera shy!
Ber with a nice Chub

We stayed on our spots a while longer but the bites dried up so we eventually decided it was time to trace our steps back up river to find a more productive area.

The banks on this river are steep in places and it can make them quite treacherous at times especially after rain. It does make you ask questions about safety and if the river was flowing faster then it would be wise to wear life preserves in future.

Ber found a spot

Eventually finding a spot in the church field offering access to some deeper water we settled in and cast out baits towards the far bank. Ber was instantly into another Chub and this was the signal for me to change from hair-rigged pellet to boilie wrapped in paste. Quickly I landed a Chub to kick start my session. This subtle bait swap made all the difference and is a reminder to change things up when the going gets slow. 

A lovely Chub kick-started my session

From here on in it was non-stop action with Barbel and Chub coming to almost every cast. Ber even mangaged a couple of quality Roach that made his day. We managed nine Barbel to over seven pounds and sixteen Chub to just under five pounds between us, reminding us why we love fishing the Wye.

We kept catching
Playing last fish of the day
 We called it a day at 5:30pm and could have stayed longer and continued to catch but the fishing Gods had been kind and we wanted to keep something in the bank for when we return later in the season.

Wye? I’ll Tell You Why

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.

Looking Down The Field To The River

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 River Wye

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. 

Trees Coming Down The River

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.

8lb Barbel

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. 

5lb 8oz
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?