Another moderate spate kept fish moving in late September and into October. September finished with a respectable total of 133 fish which came from all sections of the river much of which was eminently fishable for most of the time.
As the spate fell away it became obvious that many of the fish that were in the river took the chance to move closer to their spawning grounds and it was the upper river having the bulk of the sport. Lower beats were much quieter though having said that upper Bigsweir, and Wyesham in particular were still producing fish. While the bulk of the fish taken were in various stages of colour there was the odd fresh looking fish taken on the lower beats. Grilse, some of them pretty small, were more to the fore than usual and another fin clipped fish was taken by Oli Brown on the Hereford waters. Strangely not a single fin clipped fish was caught from any of the WUF controlled beats which produced a good proportion of the fish especially on the upper river. Just coincidence perhaps and like many like many others maybe they are just not looking.
However it soon became apparent that with good water with lower temperatures the resident fish springers and 2sw fish began to come back on the take and quite a few fish around the 20lb mark were taken together with plenty of mid doubles. With dry weather persisting the river slowly dropped away and became very clear but nevertheless conditions remained fishable for most and an October total of 250 was reached, This gave a seasons total, according to WUF of over 1,600, needless to saythe best for many years.
As October progressed the state of most of the fish became ever riper and there was something unedifying about experienced anglers catching what is of course our valuable spawning stock,right to the bitter end. There would inevitably have been casualties along the way, just how many is difficult to quantify though the odd dead fish was noted. Whilst being seen as conservationist for most of the year a salmon in the book seems more important when it really comes down to it. So a traditional autumn bash was handed out but let’s hope those fish that remain get on well with the spawning without the huge wash out event we saw last winter.
The river was fortunate in that well spaced moderate spates were available for most of the year. This allowed any fish to enter the river without much difficulty and eventually spread themselves throughout the river. This was reflected in beat returns. Top beat on the upper river was the Nyth and Tycelyn beat with 70 fish, closely followed by Spreadeagle and the Rectory. Lower down Whitney had a very respectable 46. Middle river was fair with the Golden Mile/Sheepwash and the Carrots and doing ok. Lower down Ingeston with 100 fish was top beat with good returns from Goodrich, Ross AC and Courtfield. Below Monmouth of course produced the best totals though the length of beats and fishing effort must be taken into account here and it would be interesting to see what the fish per angler effort actually was. Wyesham finished the top beat with 247, followed by Bigsweir with 227 and Upper Bigsweir a very respectable 79. Top individual totals probably come from these beats with George Adams and Joe Cobley from Wyesham and Nathan Jubb from Upper Bigsweir probably top of the pile as they have been for most of the season.
There were many multiple catches during the month with quite a few anglers with three fish in a day. Must mention here Karen Wooley who, having taken her first fish earlier this season followed up with three fish in a day from Goodrich weighing 8-16 and 20lbs More to the point she took these fish on a large single 3/0 Comet. Wonder how many other Wye fish were caught on a single though I do know of at least one other. Also a remarkable catch from the Nyth where visiting from Virginia’ USA Dr Reynold Cowles took his first fish of 16lbs and promptly followed it up with another estimated at 31lbs (110cm) Evelyn Cowles also took a 16lbs fish during their visit and Matt Tricks had a 24lb fish during the same couple of days on that same beat..
Quite a few others caught their first fish too during the month including Roger Evans, Constantine Van Hayden, Jordan Henderson and Olaf Kesterman with apologies to anyone missed out.
Another fact which might be of interest to other owners is that you need your beats fished regularly to produce the maximum number of fish. Take Caemawr for example , a fairly short beat with some good fly water below Hay on Wye where the owner, Wayne Tyler, generously donated free days fishing to members of the Wye Salmon Association. A good many took up this offer and the beat returned the best total since 1967 of 30 fish including some big fish up to 27lbs. Worth thinking about perhaps.
So, a few happy faces from both locals and visitors alike with the best total for many years and which may yet rise a little further. Final EA totals may be less as their totals are recorded by anglers returns and are often considerably less. We may never know the complete total but it’s a big step in the right direction if it can be maintained which is the big imponderable. Hopefully the return of good numbers of 3sw fish, as experienced by some other rivers too will continue.
The season has now ended on the main river (17th Oct) but continues until the 25th on the upper river and tributaries –heaven knows why!
I have no further new of the new Wye Owners organisation other than the fact an offer of co-operation between them and WSA/RWGA to create an inclusive whole river organisation has seemingly been rebuffed by it’s new chairman, which seems a great pity.
As I write another small spate is going down the valley which should prompt further fish movement towards their spawning areas.
As so often happens August was a difficult month on the Wye this year with a big slump in catches compared to previous months. The river was generally on the low side despite the odd small rise but the fish completely switched off. New fish consisted mainly of grilse, some as small as two pounds which as usual proved difficult to tempt with a good few lost when you did contact one.
The upper river suffered badly with only a few fish above Ross, probably lessd than double figures. Once again it was Bigswier (17) and Wyesham (14)who claimed the bulk of the catch and at the time of writing, with a few days of the month to go the total catch for the river was less than 50 fish.
Despite a seemingly good stock of fish in the river most were not to be tempted with of course most of the earlier fish by now very coloured. Best fish was an 18 pounder to Alex Nichol at Wyesham with another of 8lbs he had the same day. Also at Wyesham Alan Phillips had three in a day 4,5 and 11lbs on fly and Mike Sutton had a couple from Goodrich 4 and 12lbs but multiple catches were the exception. Several sea trout up to about 3lbs were also taken during the month again on the lower river.
So on the whole it was a disappointing but not entirely unexpected month but at the time of writing a moderate spate is making its way downriver so possibly this will move a few fish around or perk them up to allow a return of respectable catches. However it may well be later in September and early October with its usually lower temperature that the usual increase in often pretty poorly conditioned back end fish takes place. With everyone on the ‘conservation’ message these days most, including those in charge of the river, seem unable to stop themselves from catching gravid fish almost off the redds which I must admit i have always found very odd indeed, no more so than under the current ‘every fish spawning is precious’ mantra. Some say it every year that the end of the season, considering the bulk of the Wye fish are early 2 and 3sw fish, that the season should end at the end of September as it used to. Seems unlikely to happen however as beat money, numbers in the book and personal ego’s prevail.
There were a couple of daylight poaching incidents seen around the Upper Bigswier area and anglers seen fishing illegally from canoes seems to be becoming more prevalent. Canoe activity has been outrageous in many areas with some particularly loutish behaviour by these boaters who are completely out of control of any sort though to be fairsome are more considerate.
The now defunct Wye Salmon Owners Association is to be replaced by a new body to be called the Wye Catchment Conservators who aim to bring all riparian owners, salmon, coarse fishing and trout fishing under one organisation. However it seems to me the reasons why the WSFOA became redundant in the first instance has not been addressed and to replace it with another with similar aims and with virtually the same personel in charge is rather missing the point. As someone pointed out ‘same meat –different gravy’. There is no doubt a united front to the Wye’s problems would benefit the river but many severely disenfranchised in the past will I think be rather wary before becoming involved. Is it in fact just another funding stream to be passed on to the Wye/Usk Foundation to spend as they please? How much say will the members actually have and how transparent will both organisations be and will they for once review and monitor the success or otherwise of any projects undertaken. I’m sure the new Chairman, Peter Horsburgh will do his best and we wish him well and good luck in his new post.