Saturday 14 September 2013



After a restful relaxed morning we ventured forth to the river.
My host made promise of revealing a beautiful swim further downstream that just begged to have a float trotted through it.
The overnight rain had left the clay bank a little precarious on approach to the swim. Ones purposeful gait on occasion would give the sudden resemblance of Bambi on ice but when it leveled off through an overgrown dense curtain of trees, nettles and balsam it was somewhat more negotiable. The thick screen masked the river from view until a clearing revealed a splendid sight. It was indeed a stretch of river that took my breath away. Angelic choirs rejoiced again.

 Having done a bit of recce we returned to arm ourselves up with waders and trotting gear back at the car.
As we turned, Dave spotted a huge caterpillar and informed me it was the larva of the elephant hawk moth. I'd not seen one before it was as big as a mans thumb and whose body resembled the trunk of a pachyderm  from which it gets it name.

 Suitably adorned and armed we entered the swim. Dave would fish upstream of me in a shallow stretch that provided access to a deep glide that flowed to an inviting overhang of a large tree.
I was in slightly deeper water downstream that made available the far bank with a delicate underarm cast.


Now I don't profess to be particularly proficient at casting with a centrepin reel. In fact, after observing a few of my attempts, Dave commented that Mr Wallis would turn in his grave if he'd witnessed a few of my efforts. It was competent enough to procure me a few small chublets and a solitary brownie that welcomed my presentation. Maggots and hemp and a few small pellets insured that loose feed would drift downstream at varying depths.


After an hour or so of great fun Dave invited me to try his swim whilst he rested his aching limbs. He had several good  trout and small chub and was content enough to allow me the honour.
The chub were getting bigger with each take depending on how close to the overhanging tree the float was allowed to reach.


I lost track of time and of the quantity of chub caught I was so immersed in euphoria. In no time I had soon got into a routine of loose feeding a few free offerings slightly upstream and allowing my float to trot downstream among the morsels as they flowed past me in the gully of deeper water.
This really was the epitome of a cracking days fishing.
We were treated by the sight of the two peregrines circling majestically overhead. On several occasions a kingfisher rocketed by like an azure missile, each time causing me to freeze and hold my breath at the sight. 


One of my trots through a seemingly fish a go spell produced an unusual avoidance of activity. So much so that questions rattled my conscience  about whether I had any bait on the hook, a tangle perhaps or the presence of a predator in the swim attracted by the activity. As my float got within two feet of the over hanging branches of the tree it dipped suddenly and was dragged beneath the foliage as if by an unseen hand. Having the advantages of being immersed already in the water I was able to coax a much heavier fish out and enjoy a much more equal tussle in open water. In the mean time I gingerly retreated back to grab my waiting net at the near bank. The battle won I eased the chub over the net and scooped my prize. Just under four pounds I estimated.


 There are bigger chub here which, like the barbel, were waiting for the cover of darkness before emerging from their hideouts. I was more than satisfied with my afternoons adventure and fully sated with a really natural approach to fishing with a float. A new experience which I thoroughly enjoyed and will endeavor to replicate at the very next opportunity. We headed back to the car to pack up and took the arduous track passing through several Heath Robinson excuses for gates and made arrangements for meeting up later for a beer and a curry at the pub to resume much nattering, pulling of legs and jovial titillation no doubt.

In the morning I made my way down to breakfast and was pleasantly surprised  to share a table alongside John Bailey who was guiding a couple of lads for the day. I noticed that John looked very tired either he wasn't a morning person or was perplexed by the downpour that awaited him outside the window. I have to concur that the prospect of that didn't do much for me either and I was glad to be making my way home.


I have thoroughly enjoyed myself here yet again and will never tire of returning to witness what natural beauty  this area reveals. I have been blessed to witness spectacular visionary delights. It certainly is very much more than "just a river!"  

Friday 13 September 2013



I've just returned from another pilgrimage to the Wye to fish for barbel and chub in God's own country.
Although not due to meet up with Dave til mid morning I can't seem to avoid arriving at dawn. I'm not sure my estimating time to travel is solely to blame though, I think it's pure unadulterated eagerness and enthusiasm to get up there.

I arrived just after dawn at the bridge at Bredwardine for a stroll along the banks and was pleased to see the water low and clear. On my last visit she was moody, dirty, unforgiving and a little rough with me. All the qualities of a fine mistress. Ha!

I peered over the parapets of the bridge for an unfeasible amount of time taking in some watercraft by observing how the flow reacted to obstacles hidden underneath and how deep troughs and shallow glides were reflected on the surface activity. Something I was unable to do last time up.

Whilst I watched and learned, a builders van passed by me and had seen me looking whilst they were waiting to cross the narrow strip of road. The passenger who had obviously failed to be fulfilled by his discarded copy of the Sun on the dashboard, announced through his open window "It's just a river, mate!" which  seemed to highly amuse him and the driver, their laughter echoing as the van roared up the hill.

As the silence resumed once again I gazed back at the water and observed seven swans gracefully gliding with the current, using their wings as sails which caught the gentle breeze. Looking somewhat elegant and proud to be observed and appreciated.
And further downstream, a dozen goosander's that were making a hasty retreat in a bid not to be.
Across the field some crows were performing aerial acrobatics in an attempt to teach a tatty looking buzzard the error of it's ways.

I was glad to be here and confident that it wasn't "just a river" It was far more to the beholder and somewhere I never fail to get amused.
 It's something that almost all anglers have about them, like a trick up their sleeves, a sure fire bait or a lucky float. A skill that doesn't need to be bragged or talked about but ensures the contemplative angler never goes away empty handed, even tho the fish may decide not to play the game . Far too many unknowing presume that just because we haven't caught a fish that we won't be taking something home.

After seeking breakfast of either.. muesli on toast /a semi skimmed boiled egg/ or a plate of England's finest (delete as appropriate ha!) I met Dave at the Red Lion and transferred some kit to his 4x4 ready to see what would unfold.
The swim he had earmarked as a 'cert' for me looked tantalizing. Despite having to negotiate a steep bank to reach the waters edge, the features in the swim plus the reflected light sparkling on the ripples gave the impression that it had been designed by an angling deity. Heavenly choirs rejoiced Hallelujahs, it was that pretty in the sunshine.



 Once settled in and left with a few recommendations with regard to tactics, Dave ventured downstream to locate in another position.
I took time to set myself up comfortably and absorbed my surroundings before making my first cast.
After only a few minutes my rod tip indicated that the chub approved of my bait selection and I struck without thinking and pulled the hook from the fish mouth. On reeling in I discovered that the normally fail safe quality hook still retained its protective cap and in the relished excitement I had left it on! Oops! Ah well, no one will know, eh?

Once I had removed it and recast I was luckily rewarded with a hefty knock, an indication that a barbel would forgive my prior mistake a lot quicker than my fishing companion would relent.
I had to bully the fish as it neared the sunken tree to my left which had weed adorning its branches like paper streamers. Whilst it rested in the net I prepared the mat and got the camera out ready. I was pleased to get a barbel so early on. Maybe a sign of things yet to come but the first thought to my mind's really been too long since I caught my last one!
When I lifted the net to inspect it I was surprised at its girth. It looked like a heavy fish that wouldn't shock me if it touched double figures but alas, as with cameras, the scales never lie. And they refused point blank to even give me eight lb let alone ten. I was happy with it despite its undernourished demeanor.
After returning it I sat back and let the event sink in. I never like to cast straight back out after a catch, just a few minutes to mark the occasion with some dignity. Time to collect my thoughts and allow my heart rate to return to normality. Rather like eating a boiled sweet, not hurried. It adds to the enjoyment for me.


 The distant sky looked menacing. The kind of sky which my grandmother would regard and announce to be "a bit black over Will's mothers". Her proclamation was suffice to warn of forthcoming rain. She was hardly ever wrong. She could smell it she said.
 The temperature dropped a little and a breeze dappled the surface of the river the peace was disturbed and only a fool would fail to notice a sudden change. It was as if somebody had flicked a switch. I couldn't buy another bite.


A dopping of goosanders flew across my line of sight and I could hear a pair of peregrine falcons calling to each other from high above a distant field.
Without prior arrangement both of us decided to stretch our legs and go see how each other was getting on at exactly the same time. We met  half way and tho, a lone kettle was boiled, fat was chewed, legs were pulled. Thus putting the world to rights. For it is written, wherever two or more are gathered...
To be continued.