William Powell Country

Wye Not?


Article written by 16 August 2012

There has been quite a stir on a number of occasions over the last couple of years surrounding the River Wye. Once a reliable big fish river, recent times haven’t been so kind. I don’t know enough about the river to proffer any sensible comment on why this is, but my attention was firmly grasped by it over the last couple of weeks.

There are undoubtedly a few devoted Wye specialists who can fairly safely predict as they leave their front door, that they are going to catch a fish. They know the river, they understand their beats, and they will time a visit to coincide with the right conditions.

I have however had emails arrive relating to the exploits of a couple of Midland Fly Fisher stalwarts. Both of them extremely accomplished fishers (one credited with teaching the ubiquitous Mr Cox that salmon fishing is like carp fishing, only better). They have recently had potentially once in a lifetime days out on their upper Wye beats. It is a commendable theory that the fish are reaching the upper water more quickly considering the high rainfall conditions. These two rods, on separate trips, went some way to proving this. Between them they caught 7 fish, 5 over 20lbs and most fresh, this early in the season.

I haven’t seen the pictures, but reports from the Colonel tell me that these were those square sided, solid, Wye fish, descended from imports from the Rhur valley (when the Wye was re-stocked at the beginning of the 20th Century).

I am sure there are other stories from the Wye this season, but I pick these simply because I know the rods.

This episode, and in particular this episode on this river, illustrates very clearly the all-or-nothing nature of salmon fishing. Another such episode was a visit 3 or 4 years ago to Glanwye, on the upper Wye River. An expedition of good pals of mine took a back end couple of days on the beat, which by then had reduced down to averaging somewhere in the 20s of fish per season whereas back in the 70’s and 80’s, we were still catching over 100 fish a year.  They felt they may get it right at that time of year, and with fishing ‘on form’ rivers becoming more expensive, and travel costs potentially mounting, it was worth a punt. It came with a cosy wee cottage too.

Between 4 rods, they finished up with 25 fish. Now that’s incredible in anyone’s book. I joined them the year after, and we caught a few, but nothing like this. The following year, due to the increase in the rod caught average, we were priced off the beat. ‘Tis the way it goes. We were also accosted by a very eager local fisher who was desperate to know which one of us was the legend Jack Cox. ‘The phrase ‘are you Jack Cox?’ is thrown around in mock-abuse to this day.

I must try and ask Mr Cox to write up this trip for the website, because it’s a mouth watering fishing tale.

I remember it particularly because I was sat in Surrey revising for my professional exams. I never heard about the trip until they returned. I’m not sure whether to be grateful I have a job, or disappointed I missed the trip of a lifetime….


William Church

Born and raised in the Essex countryside, will has been fishing since the age of 7. He has a particular love of fly fishing in rivers, however is not averse to using just about any method for any fish in any water where there’s.. Read more.

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