William Powell Country

News from the River Bank – The Wye


Article written by 26 July 2012

As I have eluded to in my writings this year, the Wye has been having an excellent season for salmon. It often fishes well early in the season lower down, but the constant rainfall we have experienced this year, possibly coinciding with a good year for returning salmon, has brought big numbers of fish to the upper river early on. The Midland Fly Fisher’s water at Spread Eagle typically reports in the thirties of fish for the season. To date I believe they are in the low fifties, which is excellent considering it is mid July at the time of writing. Rods are often reporting multiple catches of fish in a day. The following river report comes from Mike Stirk from an early season trip, and really gets the blood up.

“This welcome news of some good fish in the Wye this year-and it has not been confined to the bottom reaches of the river for once! Having had a blank week on the Scottish Dee in pretty wintry weather, then zero catch days day on a rather high Welsh Dee and a visit to the Wye with fellow Greenwell David A Thompson, I was keen to get into a fish. News of fish catches travels even faster now both with text, emails and phones and I was alerted by a jubilant Paul Craven Smith’s phone conversation, to get down to Spread Eagle before the run of fish vanished upriver. Pressure of work prevented me until Saturday and despite inviting a couple of my fishing mates in vain, I found myself on the river at 10.15am all alone and the river all to myself as well!

The Wye was running at a lovely clear height of 1ft 2in on our gauge and by 10.40 am I was Spey casting a fly –with some difficulty- into the Piles with a strong cool east wind in my face. Within ten minutes –just below the rock at the end of the croy, I had a good solid take to my No 9 Ally Cascade double. The strong first run went right over to the far bank then I seemed to lose contact momentarily and cursed under my breath-another fish lost!

But as I wound up I realized the line was still moving about. The fish had turned and rushed back to right under my feet and I backed off and wound in and was in contact again. Then followed a dogged fight for the next 20 minutes with some small runs up into the neck and then down again into the middle of the pool. The great thing about Piles is that you are playing the fish in a strong current off a relatively ideal high bank position and can get opposite or below to make the fish fight both you and the river. I had now realized I was into something seriously sized, but felt confident my trusty old Sage 15 footer could manage it and –for once and bearing in mind Pauls’ Wednesday experience- I had upped my leader to 23lbs material. Thus after about 25 minutes I was able to get my Weight Net out and slowly ease the fish over the net which just about accommodated it. A fine cock fish which weighed out between 27 and 28 lbs as it struggled in the net. The fish was about 41 inches long and was not as fresh as Paul’s fish having being in the river I would estimate about 6 weeks or so. The colour of the spots was beginning to turn mauve and the kype was becoming pronounced-it might have scaled thirty if it had been fresh. Still, a fine fish, which was as exhausted as its captor, and took a good 5 minutes to revive. Oddly enough it lay doggo about 2 metres out in the run whilst I gave the pool another try and did not stir as I fished over it. Eventually as I left the pool he sauntered casually off back into the deeper run, suitably revived and hopefully to survive to do his business for more of his type in the spawning season!

The day was by no means finished and conditions weather wise improved a bit. I decided to do a circuit starting at High Bank with no result. I then waded across to try Muggs and in the fast water of the run hooked a very lively fish which tore off down the pool all the time leaping and splashing about on the surface –a fresh looking fish circa 18 to 20bs that shook the hooks after 2 minutes or so half way to High Bank.

After some late lunch I drove round to Glangwye which fished beautifully but with no sign of a fish -that is until I thought I perceived a head and tail rise way down past the usual lies and decided to fish on further down as the fly was working well, with the aid of a bit of hand lining. My persistence was rewarded with a good take from the far side and a lively fight ensued with a very fresh hen fish which I beached on a silty bank and estimated at about 14lbs –my net was about 100yards upstream on the bank! A final visit to the Grange and then I gave it best- well content.

My regrets were that I had forgotten to bring my phone down to Piles in my haste to get fishing thus I cannot produce any photographic evidence but my fish was not as handsome as Paul’s specimens, but at least it was weighed and I can still picture it in my mind lying on the bank.



Mike Stirk

Active member of the Midland Fly Fishers Read more.

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