As suspected the 2sw fish arrived in better numbers as May progressed and this time it was the lower river that caught the bulk of the fish.  Apart from a small spate just after the middle of the month levels were better suited to the lower beats whilst, apart from the odd fish the upper river languished very much in the doldrums. In fact no beats above Whitney and Caemawr who had 14 and 10 respectively, reached more than five fish with some still to record a single fish.   A game, or in this case, a river of two halves was never more apparent.

Glanwye picked up a couple more fish and  Nyth got off the mark with Phillip Parkinson taking an 8lb fish and Matt Oliver had two including a nice one of around 23lbs and Brian Skinner one of 20lbs on a Rapala from Pwll-y Faeeda.  Spencer John had two fish from Caermawr  12 and 13lbs on a Silver Shrimp.   Whitney had several more and Eardisley also got off the mark with a couple of fish including one of 12lbs to Ray Oakley .

It was lower down however where all the action was with the usual culprits again catching  quite a few of the fish. One top rod must be Stan Turner at Aramstone who consistently added to his score during the month which at the moment stands at 16 fish –all on F/C.  Dave Roberts continued to catch at the Carrots, as did Don Macer Wright at Courtfield, Jon Daniels at Ross AC,  Martin Lydon, and Lyn Cobley and his regulars at Ingeston also continued to catch fish including a 25lb fish to Mike Pritchard and a second fish to 10years old Henry Sayers.  The beat totalled around 45 fish for the season so far.. Given the right levels Wyesham then really got in the act with Mike Timmis, Joe Cobley and particularly George Adams, with several days of four fish, scoring heavily though mostly on the F/C.    They are now on around 115 fish for the beat. Redbrook and Maurice Hudson at Cadora Backs also started catching fish and Nathan Jubb added to his considerable score with more fish from Upper Bigswier. His fish were  mostly on fly.  Coedithiel also open their account which included a 20lb fish to Chris Major.    One has to say most of the big scorers replied on the F/C for their catches and despite low water it seemed the first choice of many

It was at upper Bigsweir that a very big fish with some sort of fungus/disease was seen and photographed near one of the croys. The two people who saw it described it as huge and it certainly looks impressive in the photograph and was scaled to a very notable 50inches or so in length. (See rwga.co.uk daily blog).   It was seen a couple of times before eventually disappearing and has not been reported elsewhere so far.  There have again been several reports of big fish played and lost by anglers using braided lines. Not a good idea on a rocky river in my opinion as its abrasion resistance is very limited indeed to almost anything, including itself.  It can also cut and damage fish if they roll in the line whilst being played. Nothing wrong with good old Maxima is there?

It’s not possible to mention everyone so my apologies but there were a few first’s with Laura McLucas getting a 10lb fish at only her second attempt, Phillip Haulbrook had a fish from Wyesham on his first attempt and Chris Howell also had his first fish at Goodrich. Going one better was Adrian Batty who had his first and second fish, 10 and 8lbs at Whitney on the same day.  If nothing else it shows how easy it can be if you find a taking fish or two.

Eventually Bigsweir got going with the lower levels and late in the month their Sunday syndicate recorded a day of 12 fish, fresh in off the tide and split between fly and spinner.

Kenny Powell had fish of 16 and 22lbs, Stephen Brady 8 and 14lbs Mike Humphries 15lbs John Mandell and Tim Bevan  again both 15lbs, Peter Chilton 9lbs Reg Lawton 15lbs , and Peter Hickman 14 and 9lbs  As I  write the beat has over 60 fish. Fish are still moving through the beat though the odd day produces nothing.

Late at the month’s end another small but very dirty spate went through and disrupted catches for a few days especially in the middle river. It seems to have done little for any upstream fish movement and as usual despite continue reports of ‘running’ fish on the beats below Monmouth they seem to disappear into black hole that is the middle river.  At the moment the dearth of fish on the upper and much of the middle river looks set to continue and as so often in the summer most of the action will be on the lower beats, at least for the time being.

By the end of May the total reached over 540 fish with May’s total just exceeding 330  and that of last May’ s score 293 fish.  So the best spring return on the Wye for many years is most welcome, whatever the reasons and there are various views on why that might be, a whole debate in itself no doubt.

Stephen Marsh Smith of the Wye Usk Foundation has now left the Foundation to become it is believed a fundraiser for the Welsh Rivers Trust (Afonydd Cymru) and I am sure many of us wish him bon voyage in his new venture.  His Deputy, Simon Evans has taken over as director and we all hope for a new era on inclusivity and partnership in working together towards further rejuvenation of our river but I guess only time will tell.

Prospects for June look good on the lower river as levels seem set to remain low for the foreseeable future. A dry summer looms perhaps and upper beats may have a long wait for any further sport.  I hope that prophecy guarantees rain as any forecast so often does,

Geoff Franks

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