Wednesday, 14 March 2012


The arrival at dawn was always my intention, partially because of the anticipation and of course childlike excitement that kept me from slumber, but I planned to walk the famous 'Banks of the Wye' like a team treading the hallowed turf of Wembley prior to a cup final game.
My quest was to fish the last couple days of the season where, with assistance, I would have a chance of not only my first Barbel but God willing, also smash my chub personal best which would be unbelievable, stuff of dreams! 

I  have been looking forward to this short break to the Wye for months with work and other commitments taking up the first ten weeks of the year. I have spent time preparing to ensure that not only will I have a good chance of success but should I fail, I would enjoy the experience and know that I gave it my best shot.
I was to meet with Dave Burr, local legend, self confessed 'bank tramp' and all round good egg, who would be my guide and his expertise would be a valuable asset to me, local knowledge being worth a thousand casts! It is through this that I wish to extend my thanks and gratitude to him. 
Whether it was revision on tackle, bait, studying my quarry, my destination or just pestering  poor Dave for information, like a hungry Barbel I would leave no stone upturned. 

Parking at Bredwardine Bridge a little after 5.30am, I struggled  from the car to an upright position, representing the various stages of man's evolution from the arduous 5 hour drive, groaning through each phase.
On donning a coat I quickly realized that something was very wrong. Firstly, I have long heard stories foretold about these famous 'banks' but didn't realize what they were referring to was fog! Visibility was  down to less than 100yards. I was armed with a camera and planned to capture this fishing mecca on film lest superlatives in my vocabulary would not alone do this beautiful place justice.
Secondly, having an ongoing hearing problem anyway, I had lost total hearing altogether and my dawn walk was muted. I was in no means downhearted tho, Mother Nature would reveal snippets of visionary heaven to me along my walk in stages as though my beating heart would not be able to cope with the full effect all at once. Besides, when ones hearing lacks it normally  heightens visionary skills. 
As well as the flora and fauna I unfortunately stumbled across telltale signs of swims and picked up half a dozen beer cans and luncheon meat tins en route. Some people have no respect.
Carlsberg don't make eyesores but if they did......

After reaching a perimeter fence marking a beat boundary I about faced and returned with head in an 'eyes left' position scanning the Wye for signs of life. I have to admit with little if any watercraft skills it was a little daunting to say the least. I was hoping to see vast shoals of Chub and Barbel all swimming with their mouths agape begging me for a bit of food but alas it wasn't to be. I did spot a large torpedo shaped pike cruising effortlessly downstream which probably explained the lack of piscatoral breakfast companions but the walk as well as doing both my body and soul a world of good was to headline a truly fantastic couple of days. 
Oh, and when taking off my coat and returning it to the back seat, I shut the door and scattered the rooks from high above me in the rookery who cawed their distaste at my rude awakening, I realized I wasn't deaf I was just not used to the peace and quiet! 
After a prearranged breakfast at the The Red Lion I met with Dave and 'buddy' and we went fishing.

 I admit to being an infatuated tackle tart, a complete tackle shop owners dream but I just got to get me one of these.....
                                                                    Canis Delkimus

I was put into a swim which I was assured held fish and after some lessons explaining glides, creases, riffles, undercurrents and back eddies, I was told exactly where to cast and the Barbels behavior. Unfortunately with nerves shot to bits with insomnia and excitement this took some practice, and after a few 'choice' expletives barked from Dave and some rather quizzical looks from the dog managed to get the hang of it eventually. 
I was not to be kept waiting for much more than half an hour when my rod lurched and I struck into my very first Barbel. The expression 'Crikey don't they hang On' sprang to mind. My right arm hasn't felt that strained since I was a teenager!
After pictures, weighing and much shaking of hands, I sat back in my chair euphoric and dizzy that I was privileged to have caught and held an absolute stunning looking fish.

                                               Stunningly beautiful. (Yes, the fish!)

I was graced with two more beauty's, spaced nicely apart, that filled a splendid day and I would dearly love to say that celebrations went on into the night at the pub, where the warm and friendly staff were as inviting as the log fire in the bar. But alas, upon my head hitting the pillow at 8pm I would not so much as to nod off as pass out through total physical and emotive exhaustion.

Next day the morning session was to prove unsuccessful but later on as the fog lowered its dense curtain once more on the valley during an early evening session, I was to hook into a pb chub tempted on my homemade cheese paste offering, only appreciated prior to this by 'buddy'.

                                                        Looking jolly pleased. (Yes, me!)

Along with the stunning scenery, the 'good company and good discourse' not to mention the stuff of dreams, I thoroughly enjoyed my Wye experience and it has brought the close of the season with enough scope for improvement and just that little bit more eagerness.
I have no desire to live there tho, lest the familiarity with the scenery made me complacent of it and take it for granted, now my eyes have seen the glory it would be a heinous sacrilege. I would much prefer to return  periodically and keep the stunning beauty of the area as the gift wrap to a thoroughly enjoyable fishing package.
Rest assured I vow to return and plans are already underway, despite Dave jumping up and down on his phone and being last seen having it away on his toes over the valley.
I plan to put into practice lessons learned from this trip and carry on where I left off this time round. One has truly been bitten by the infectious bug that inhabits  the majestic 'banks of the Wye'.


  1. So you enjoyed it then ;-)

    It was a pleasure to see you get those first fish Richard and July is but a thousand emails away.

  2. Well I read Daves account of your first ever Barbel and that was certainly a superb read, but very nice to see your own brilliant account Richard and it seems you had a wonderful time, I remember my first Barbel which was a 5 pounder from the Loddon and what seems many moons ago, but the memory still lingers like it were yesterday, it is something you you will never forget and you also added a new pb Chub, as well! I bet that has got you all stirred up and looking forward to more of the same come the new season.

  3. Thanks for your kind comments Mark. Yes a memorable trip, was 'stuff of dreams' indeed. Just as excited about my next trip as I now know what I wait for!

    And young Dave....the pleasure was all mine.

  4. Well done Richard, the Wye is a beautiful river, it is where i had my very first barbel.

    I have seen that bridge with water flowing over it, yep the river rose something daft like 15 feet over night, she can be a moody beast.

  5. My imagination is completely romanced by that bridge! And that's an absolutely brilliant fish...good on you!

  6. Erin,Tom- Thank you for looking in. Appreciate your comments. I feel drawn to looking over from bridges from an anglers perspective but spent an long time looking AT the bridge on this trip. With the water barely lapping at its ankles this time it is hard to imagine the Wye's surging torrent but the signs were there.