river wye jan 2016

The weather was unrelenting since my last report in early December with probably the longest spell of high water that anyone can ever remember on the Wye and most of its tributaries.    The rain was unrelenting and apart from the odd occasion on the highest upper river the river never once fell anywhere near a normal level.    Once again it was impossible to gain any real idea of any spawning activity and it’s hard to think of anywhere on the main stem which provided even reasonable spawning conditions during this time.

It’s true that much of the Wye spawning takes place on its numerous smaller tributaries on the upper river but even here there were big spates from time to time and it’s uncertain as to how successful this may have been.  I’m not aware of any dead kelts being found in any numbers, they used to be washed up in bankside debris everywhere years ago, but no doubt many have been taken away by the floodwater, likewise the surviving kelts would have an easy passage to the sea.

Our thoughts turn now towards the new season though this will still be some way off when you read this.  One often gets asked where one should try for an early springer but it’s really too early to say.  Conditions vary so much on the Wye even from day to day but given continued high water it could be almost anywhere on the river.  The very early springers,  which were in the river very early years ago, in fact as high upriver as Builth Wells from the old opening day of 26th January.

It would be good to see this again but as usually location of early fish is almost always water height dependent.  It’s rare for the whole of the Wye to be fishable at any one time and good running water, whilst essential for the upper and middle river, often means the lower river is too high and can remain so for long periods in the spring.    You can only really plan your first outing ideally a few days before opening day otherwise if you book a particular beat then you may just have to take pot luck. However the Wye is still the place to be fishing for a prime early springer with always the chance of a fish of a lifetime.  Some beats are always more productive than others no matter what the conditions and these of course are at a premium and not often available on day tickets.   It’s important to get to know your chosen beat well in all conditions but with so few Gillies available these days this is often not easy and so much time can be wasted fishing in places where you will never catch a fish.   Many of the lies, on the upper river in particular, are very specific and due to its rocky base mainly remain unchanged for decades.  Concentrating on these known lies is obviously more productive than fishing the whole of the beat from top to bottom. The surge in ‘guides’ is no replacement whatsoever and they often don’t know the beats in any depth at all.  Casting is not necessarily ‘fishing’ by any stretch of the imagination.


If you want some fishing why not check out the WSA website at www.wyesalmon.com and for a small joining fee you can book up a free days fishing on several half decent beats. You might also check out their tuition days which is always an enjoyable day out for both adults and children with casting tuition, fly tying not to mention the barbeque.   There is also up to date accurate news on what’s going on the Wye with reliable catch returns –not something always available everywhere.


The NRW consultation on suggestions for curbing anglers still further in Wales will be over by the time you read this.  I say ‘consultation’ though I think it’s pretty clear by now that the term consultation means something different to NRW than it does to us. It seem to be a process they must be seen to be going through whilst the decision has already been pre determined and even an overwhelming vote by the angling community on any issue is simply ignored.

Far better it seems to me to be writing in protest at the whole idea of the ‘consultation’ rather than filling in their questionnaire which anyway bizarrely states that they “don’t consider that Angling is the problem” so if that’s the case why continue to tinker with it.  They seem to need to be seen doing something which will cost them nothing.   Other than restricting catches/methods etc they seem to have no other initiatives in the pipeline.


Let’s hope for reasonable angling conditions on the March 3rd opening day and good luck for the new season.


Any news or information please contact me on 01497 821889 or uskside1@ticali.co.uk


Geoff Franks


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