November 4, 2013

Booking Pages open for 2014 on Wye and Usk Foundation

Booking pages for 2014 are now open for Wyebank, Courtfield,Thomas Wood and Home fishery on Wye and Usk Foundation Booking Office.

Without any question Wyebank was the most prolific fishery in the early part of 2013 coarse season with barbel to over 13lbs, Courtfield wood stretch was very good and Home and Thomas Wood will have more swims cleared for 2014. The bottom and top end of Home has produced some excellent fishing with three or more barbel over 11lbs. Chub to 6lbs caught from all beats except Thomas Wood and Wyebank produced three over 6lb in one day with one estimated at 8lb which was no doubt more than 7lb. This one caught from Wyebank crib, where a barbel weighed at over 13lb 4oz was caught some years ago. Whatever the general fishermens’ view Wyebank is without question the beat that produces the biggest barbel on the 3.5 miles of river bank of Lower Wye Fishing based on records of past 5 years along with the biggest chub and dace, but Courtfield produces the most double figure by far on this part of the river.

July 15, 2013

Where to fish at Lower Wye Fishing for barbel in current heat wave and low water and high temperatures July 2013

Shade is at a premium, seek it out and increase your chances of some fine barbel.

After nearly two weeks of rising temperatures and dropping flows it is becoming increasingly difficult to find barbel and chub on the feed. My last post

Dissolved oxygen, canoes and barbel – a few thoughts

discussed the basic needs of fish for dissolved oxygen to stimulate feeding, now I need to identify the most likely places to find fish. This will be obvious to most readers. Barbel need fast well aerated water and deeper water will be cooler and hold more oxygen. Shade reduces surface heating and also allows pockets of slightly cooler water.

My bet is that Thomas Wood provides some of the best conditions locally to those stretches below Kerne Bridge. After 10am a lot of the Thomas Wood stretch remains in shade throughout the day. The Thomas Wood great crib provides some increased flow, although not much, but there is deeper water and some turbulence and mid to late afternoon onwards has got to be worth a go. Also the lower Thomas Wood crib, the Spike. Here there are cribs either side of the river creating a good mid river channel with a good depth.

thomas wood crib shade

Thomas wood crib is 200 yards below the top end of the fishery  (Courtfield Estate sign) and the Spike is about 600 yards further on towards the bottom end of the wood. There is plenty of shade in between with steady runs out from the sandstone rock slabs.

lower crib thomas wood

The "spike" lower crib Thomas Wood

shade downstream of lower crib thomas wood

shade downstream of lower crib thomas wood

Take ropes and bank spikes if you fancy some of the underbank rock ledges.

The top end of Home fishery has the classic shut stream run and swan pool crib all with good oxygenated water. The bottom end likewise has some fast water where barbel and chub will be found. But FOR SHADE go to Thomas Wood

Where to fish Thomas Wood

May 5, 2013

Sedimentation and no Ranunculus in the lower River Wye at Lydbrook 2013

Water levels have been slowly falling and at the beginning of May are now 2″ and more below summer level. Clear water and bright conditions have allowed a full inspection of the stone and gravel  river bed through the Lydbrook shallows at the bottom end of Courtfield and Wyebank. As suspected the bed has significant sedimentation and hardly any ranunculus. From my experience I believe it is the only year in a decade or more when  ranunculus growth at this point in time has been limited to a few patches here and there. I believe  it is probably the result of protracted turbidity since May 2012 up to early 2013. More worrying is the extensive growth of blanket weed showing over much of the river bed combined also with extensive covering of blanket weed stifled by sedimentation.

Ranunculus whilst important in the habitat of the lower Wye for providing shelter for fish species, is vital for maintaining water levels. As flows drop through the late spring and early summer ranunculus grows and creates an expanding biomass, which acts as a natural dam, thereby raising and maintaining water levels, whilst maintaining daily oxygen levels. Without the ranunculus there is nothing to prevent the important shallows from rapidly drying up.

There must be a concern that with an enriched river bed, as demonstrated by the blanket weed, and a rapidly falling river that we may be facing a high risk of excessively low water, high algal blooms and de-oxygenation, if the weather moves back to low rainfall and high temperatures. There is probably no single greater issue on the river Wye at the present time than the appalling loss of soil from the land, being carried directly into the river with every flood, with the diffuse pollution it brings, combined also with storm discharge policies allowing untreated sewage and chemicals to flow freely into the river.

April 15, 2013

A river Wye monster salmon?

I am back both physically and mentally exhausted, after the best part of two hours bank work, whilst struggling with my conscience and replaying what appeared to have happened this afternoon after lunch.
Simon this morning reported filthy water on its way from the Ithon which will put paid to any fishing for days, so with 3ft of water and only one place that I know of with deep water and a fishable flow at this level I headed for Legg meadow crib and the last chance of a last fish before this water takes them all upstream.
This is the story of what happened. I should start by saying this is the first time in what I have to admit is 45 years of river keepering and occasional fishing, that I have ever fallen in, whether river, stream, lake or pond. I have always maintained this fact as rather a proud boast, and if you have ever cleaned rickety chalk stream weed racks, worked on hatch control in all weathers of flood and ice and once upon a time worked the eel traps in the pitch dark of August floods, electro fished from punts for spawning pike and walked the gunwale with loads of chalk for bank repairs, you’ll know why. Today’s experience was also the scariest thing that has happened to me in those 45 years.
I cast out my yellow belly devon minnow with a sliding weight set up I use and after a number of casts snag free, I had the sort of take which I have now experienced several times on the Wye, and particularly in this stretch when the slow retrieve of the devon just stops and everything goes solid. These aren’t aggressive takes but seem to be big fish moving to the minnow and sucking it in before closing their jaws on it. The previous two occasions when both fish were lost, the fish moved after about 15 seconds to half a minute, this time it didn’t budge and the steady side strain I applied did nothing. I was sure it wasn’t the bottom as I was fishing what I am pretty certain was mid water. For what seemed to me a good 5 minutes but was probably half that, nothing happened beyond a periodical tremor through the line and what felt like head shaking but could have been the play of the current, Although I have rewound this over and over in my mind I think I was convinced it was fish as there was none of the give and take from a snag and I think there was a subtle movement in the body of the beast.
Then it was really over,  the fish moved 4 or 5 yards or so up into the pool allowing me to exert massive, and I mean all or nothing, side strain as for once I was as convinced as I could be that my line would hold. The fish must have suddenly freaked as without any warning it turned and came towards the bank fast when I saw this monstrous shape, all black, and I have this frightful image of its eye as it turned making a huge vortex like swirl and sped into the deep water causing a huge hit to the rod which pulled me off balance, and you all know what these Wye banks are like. I slipped and went straight in to my waist on my back. With rod grasped in my right hand it was pointing straight across the river and the fish would have pulled it clear of my hand had not the line stretched giving me that sickening knowledge that it was all over, as I grasped at the roots to prevent me sliding into the depths. The line went slack and in my subconscious I’m sure I heard the line ping as it broke. You’re probably thinking what an idiot for not releasing the clutch a little!

I had tightened the clutch to allow me to keep a constant heavy strain on the fish. When it moved it came up river so that I could gain line and then I gave it stick, not expecting the fish to rush the bank. I must have then reeled some line but it was all happening so fast. I think the fish either surprised itself or saw me. I don’t think it realised it was tethered by the line until I got the side strain on, when it suddenly took fright rushing towards the bank only to realise its mistake. I in the meantime literally had no chance to lessen the clutch tension and found myself staring and I think transfixed by this beast of a fish which looked huge and black, and I saw its eye as it turned at about 2feet below the surface. The water literally opened into a hole and the next thing I knew was the rod hit by the tightening line as the fish took up the slack it had created, I slipped lost my balance and was in the water foolishly grasping for the bank as the rod pointed towards the river and it was all over.

As I crawled back up the bank, having pulled something in my leg I thought to myself what was that fish, had I hooked a sturgeon I thought. of course not. I possibly saw a streak of silver but all I can see in my mind is a big black green fish as long as my computer table that I’m now sitting at. in fact it seemed bigger than that but of course it can’t have been. Fish are reckoned to look smaller than they are in the water, well to me this one did not. It clearly was all wrong for a big pike and no way was it a pike’s head. It was a great salmon, that in Adam’s words of the other day “was to big to lift”. I cannot possibly put a weight on this fish, It really was a big one that got away. Adam Fisher has had one, I saw one the other week before Adam’s fish was caught, which looked hugely bigger than a low thirty pounder. Last year a fisherman in Legg meadow saw a huge fish “porpoise” in Legg meadow of Courtfield in late January/ early February. I believe Gilbert’s famed portmanteaux may be back in the Wye and it is now only a matter of time until one is photographed on the bank.

The sensation this fish created in me was one of pure adrenalin filled fear for the unknown, the type of fear I have experienced as a surfer committing myself to a danger filled wave carrying the banner of drowning writ in invisible writing along its pitching crest.

September 14, 2012

Wye barbel September update at Wyebank and Courtfield

Fishing is  challenging on Courtfield this September with some very bright days and continuing high flows.

The Legg meadow crib is still covered with water and the level at Lydbrook has been at 6″ for a week now, which is unheard of over the past decade. This summer has put us in new territory for the barbel with flow conditions which have never before been experienced for Wye barbel fishing. When the river is high and coloured and over 4ft the barbel are packed along the banks out of the heavy flows. At the other extreme, as in last year, when the river is at summer level or below with gentle flows the barbel seem to hold in shoals more and stay put. The fact that some fish, which have a distinguishing mark, will be caught several times through the summer in the same place, demonstrates a tendency for territorial behaviour. This year and particularly recently flows remain high and the barbel seem to be all over the place and not in the larger shoals.

Legg Meadow has been fished hard and it is inevitable that fish will be getting hook shy. However don’t jump to conclusions because the Wood stretch has also been equally difficult and that stretch HAS NOT been fished hard, in fact it has hardly been fished at all. The feedback shows that despite some poor catches others have had brilliant success. Most notable has been Kenny Parsons and his clients. Kenny is an accomplished guide who really knows his stuff. He has a good understanding for knowing whereabouts the fish are likely to be and most significantly he refills the swimfeeder every ten minutes. Where others fail he and his clients always catch fish. Yesterday, Thursday 13th., John and Brian had a good afternoon fishing the bottom swim in the wood together. Plenty of feed was probably there success and in a couple of hours during the afternoon they had 5 nice barbel and 8 chub.

The good news is that doubles have been coming out in good numbers with numerous tens and a few elevens caught over the last two weeks.

Wyebank has had low pressure fishing this summer due to the high water making the pools inaccessible. That has changed this month and for the last two weeks Wyebank has come into its own at the lower end in the bottom pool. There was an exceptional catch of 30 smaller barbel going to a few around the 6-7lb mark and the rest down to 1.5lbs, had by Kenny Parsons’ client Richard, yes that man again! Check it out on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LowerWyeFishing Others have had some super fish to 9lbs plus with one to 11lbs 3oz showing that Wyebank bottom pool is a truly exceptional pool for all sizes of barbel in pristine fishing conditions. The top run below the island has had no fishing pressure at all and has to be a choice swim for the wading angler with bait box at waist. I think it must be full of fine fish.

So why is Wyebank so much more consistent than Courtfield at the moment. I think the answer to this is that the bottom pool lies below a well oxygenated riffle and although oxygen levels should be excellent along the river, this pool is probably at a saturated level and draws fish into it for ‘the buzz’. This would explain why the stock of fish in the pool keeps changing.

For daily updates check ou our facebook page

June 21, 2012

Wye barbel update Courtfield

Some good bags and some big fish have been caught this week, details will be posted tomorrow. Today we have had a rest day on the river as the party of 5 rods could’nt make it due to work and illness.

This first week has seen some very high water conditions and very coloured water. At least half a dozen barbel over 10 lbs have been reported as lost through breakages. Fishing with a lot of weight and in very heavy water for specimen barbel, particularly in those areas noted for snags and big fish, it is a must to use 15lb or heavier breaking strain at the hook. The heavier line is after all camouflaged by the heavily coloured water. It is unfortunate that there are now double figure fish possibly with hooks in their mouths. If we are to conserve a healthy stock of these magnificent Wye barbel it is vital we fish in a way which best suits the conditions.

June 20, 2012

Lower Wye Fishing on Facebook

There is a facebook page with regular updates on river heights, catches and prospects etc., for all coarse and game fishing.

www.facebook.com/LowerWyeFishing

June 12, 2012

Another good salmon week for Wyebank and Courtfield

Another six fish between Friday 1st and Thursday 7th June. An 8lb and 10lb for Don Macer-Wright on Bann shrimp last Friday from Wyebank followed by a 12lb on yellow and green devon on Saturday from Courtfield. Then a 15 pounder for Jason Conlon on Wednesday followed by two 8 pounders for Rudi Lighert on flying c, one from Courtfield and one from Wyebank on Thursday before the latest flood comes through.

May 30, 2012

Salmon showing again at Courtfield May 30th 2012

After a month of high water followed by days of no salmon sightings I am glad to say that a few fish have been showing over the last week in slowly increasing numbers. Today several fresh fish were seen on the Courtfield water and I hope that soon we shall be catching one or two. The water has been getting progressively coloured by algae over recent days however and it will be the early morning angler who is most likely to succeed I feel.

October 24, 2011

Shaun Hodges of Hinders leash of 10lb barbel

Tuesday the 18th October was one of the last days for memorable catches, with Wyebank producing a good bag for Adriano Mercato and friend, including barbel to 8lb plus and chub to 6.25 lbs and Courtfield producing a good bag of barbel and a great get together for Dean Macey, Les Westbeach, Nigel Botherway and Shaun Hodges.

Shaun, the manager of tackle shop Hinders of Swindon took the day with three consecutive ten pound barbel at 10lbs, 10lb 4oz and 10lb 8oz. These were caught on Hinders Blitz boilies wrapped in Blitz paste with Hinders Barbel Bomb in the feeder, proving in Nigel Botherway’s words that Hinders of Swindon “sell the best barbel bait known to man.”

10lb 8oz Barbel

Another beautiful 10lb plus fish

The third of the 10lb plus Barbels

After a fantastic run of doubles over the past few weeks it looks like the barbel fishing is winding down now.