April 24, 2011

Swan mussels, water snails and fly life

The low water has allowed me to investigate the state of the invertebrate and other populations in  the river Wye along the Wyebank stretch this April. I should think that water snails, of which there are many species in the river, must be an important element of the fish’s diet, particularly barbel. Every larger stone is currently covered underneath with the gelatinous balls of water snail eggs. The nymphs of the Yellow May dun and Olive Upright are also everywhere and the freshwater shrimp, which was quite scarce a few years ago, is now again more common. Although the shrimp prefers clean water it can tolerate mild levels of pollution and is not the marker of pristine water that it was once thought to be. However the shrimp’s abundance is vital as a food item for fish, particularly salmonids.

Most satisfying is the abundance of swan mussel shells on the raised shoals of the far bank, which are now dry. This is a swan mussel site recorded in SSSI assessment of circa 1996 which by 2006 was virtually devoid of shells. The swan mussel lives in the sandy and silty gravel substrate, so living organisms are not seen. The presence of significant numbers of non eroded shells is indicitive of a healthy population.

Yesterday, Saturday 23rd, two days before St Mark’s day, was marked for me by the largest swarm of hawthorn fly which I have seen for years. Bibio marci, the Hawthorn or St Mark’s Fly due to its occurrence on St Mark’s day, has again been quite scarce in more recent years. As this is a terrestrial fly its abundance or otherwise cannot be blamed on river pollution! At Little Dean, on the eastern edge of the Forest of Dean, where hatches were immense over a decade ago their demise cannot be blamed on spraying as it is traditional dairy farming with little or no spraying of any sort. Whether there will be sufficient winds to blow the hawthorn onto the water to induce a rise of trout, only time will tell.

April 18, 2011

Salmon still moving in low water Courtfield beat

John Crompton was the third day ticket salmon fisherman this month on the Courtfield beat. Although it was Sunday and he arrived at lunch time and peak canoeing activity he had a few good hours and afternoon traffic was low for a school holiday weekend. Two fish leaped just upstream from him and one breached just downstream but he had no takers on his 1″ cascade tube fly.

Beautiful salmon water. TheWood crib Sunday morning – fish seen off this crib last week by Rudi.

Legg Meadow crib and wood crib below have both had stoning repairs

I put John on the Wyebank fly water for the evening which is still in fantastic condition and a joy to fish with the fly.

John Crompton fly fishing the neck of the Wyebank pool Sunday evening 17th April.

The river is now falling fast. With no rain around anyone wanting to fish the Courtfield should do so over the next week before fish become ‘dour.’ The flow is now a little slow for the fly to work properly. I recommend a 1.5 inch traditional green and yellow wooden  devon minnow lightly weighted or 1″ silver mepps or small flying c. in shrimp red or yellow.

Most of all get to the water early and enjoy the peace and emptiness of the river before the canoe traffic starts, which is about 10am. So far this year canoe traffic has been light and not a problem. Stay late and fish the empty river between 4.30 and dark.

April 14, 2011

Wye and Usk Foundation river report

Wye & Usk Foundation Update

Friday 8 April, 2011

Catches from the lower (mainly) and middle Wye continue and we are pleased to report that two day ticket fishers were successful: Rudi Leigart at Courtfield with a fish of 38” and the other by Jon Taylor from Wyesham, a fly caught 26½ lbs. Fish have also been landed at the Golden Mile, Bigsweir and several more from Wyesham.

April 5, 2011

First salmon for Courtfield

Rudi Lighert caught a salmon around 14lbs this morning at the boat pool, bottom of the metal steps, just upstream from the Courtfield Arms. This sea liced fish was under weight but put up a huge scrap and took Rudi 20 minutes to land. I had encouraged Rudi to fish yesterday and the WUF also put out a recommendation to fish for salmon between Ross and Lydbrook. This is the first fish of the season which probably came up from the big spring tides with just a small rise of fresh in the lower river.