I was lucky enough to grow up just a few minutes’ walk from the wonderful Suffolk Stour and the good variety of fishing it offered.
These days I have to travel a bit to get to the (admittedly excellent) coarse fishing on my local river – the mighty Wye. The journey is nothing major, but I do miss having the opportunity to simply grab a few bits and walk down to the river for impromptu hour or two at dawn or dusk.
Still, my sessions on the Wye tend to be short, evening affairs, especially at this time of year with the river low and busy with boats. Fishing quite literally the last couple of hours of daylight is usually productive.
I ventured out for my first Wye session of the season at the end of a hot day recently. Initially I tried a precise, scaled down pellet approach to no avail. It wasn’t until I tied on a bigger hook and impaled a large piece of spam that I began to get bites – from eels!
The last snake gave a decent impression of a barbel, giving a savage bite and really pulling the rod round as it made for some snags close in. It was a better fish than the others at around 2lbs.
However by around 8.30, things had gone very quiet. I moved to an area with a short stretch of slightly more oxygenated water and using a light lead, let a big lump of Spam trundle through the swim, before it settled off the main current. Within minutes a scale perfect barbel of just under 6lbs was in the net after a brilliant tussle in the flow.
A short while later a subtle bite was met with a firm strike. The power of the hooked fish in the first two minutes or so was breathtaking. Despite using 12lb line and a 2lb test curve rod, I couldn’t do anything to move the fish which was hugging the bottom in the flow. I did wonder if I’d become snagged, but then the fish took line quickly, against a tightly set clutch, moving upstream without me being able to do anything to stop it.
The stalemate continued before, suddenly, I was able to budge the brute. After another couple of powerful runs and a bit of splashing under the tip the powerful gear told and I netted a big, stocky barbel with an enormous tail. She weighed 9lbs exactly, setting a new Wye best for me.
My next two hour trip was made under similar conditions, but on this occasion things proved more tricky. A small chub took the bait straight away but then a quiet spell finally ended with another big eel putting in an appearance. I had to wait right until dusk again before a better fish arrived – this time a nice chub getting on for 3lbs or so – very welcome.