Saturday 4 November 2023

River Wye - Jerkinheads and Jersey Devils

Well, what can you say about November?

Except 'Yuk!', oh and for me, it's when the SAD, yeap seasonal affective disorder kicks in big time. 

The weather has usually broken into something resembling a bad day in the Yukon; the leaves are off the trees, impeding the floats, clogging the lines, fouling the water and generally putting the fish off their grub, moving water is starting to move faster and creep up higher.

But take heart. The old standbys the roach, chub and perch will oblige during the milder spells, should there be any. And the pike still have to eat. This is the month that sees the last of the fair weather fishermen for a while. They go back to indoor pursuits such as basket weaving, rig making and annoying their other halves.

It's also the month that sorts the men out from the boys. Those hardy souls still on the bank, sitting out in the wind, the rain and the sleet are the boys. The men have retired to the pub

Anyway November is also the start of the angling wheezing season. Industrial absenteeism rockets as anglers stay on the bank to fish the last of the light, such as it is, having forgotten to put on an extra set of thermals. Winter draws on, as they say. And if you haven't got your winter drawers on, you're a dead cert for a coughing fit on Monday morning.

Don't forget to take something for your chest, either: goose grease, liberty bodice, extra pully, knitted wool scarf, hairpiece. What many anglers take for their chest is port and brandy combo. Then they wonder why they fall in the water. Certainly only the most dedicated night fishers will stay on the bank once November sets in. As the Bard put it so well, in a poem dedicated to Dick Spray and Morris Minor of the Lucians Specimen Group - a pair of dedicated and intrepid nutcases if ever there were, sitting up night after night through the Winter for pike:

When a man grows old (I turned 51 today FFS 🤯)
And his hands grow cold
And the end of his nose turns blue,
And he freezes all night
In the hope of a bite,
I'd say he was mad, wouldn't you?

Anyway I was on my tod for this session down the Wye post storm Ciaran, where gusts of more than 100mph have left thousands of homes without power, forced school closures and caused travel chaos after Storm Ciaran battered the south of England and the Channel Islands.

Damage to properties in Jersey meant some had to evacuate their homes and seek refuge in a hotel, with one woman saying hailstones “bigger than a golf ball” had broken her windows. In the south of England on Thursday, hundreds of schools closed because of the risk to pupils and a major incident has been declared in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight because of the expected pressure on local services.

The storm filtered out before it reached inland however it was still pretty blustery with buckets of rain which meant the Wye was well up with plenty of water on. Barbel were the target naturally in these conditions and I decided to dust off the Korum Big Water rod which is 12ft and 2.25TC. I prefer to use an 11ft rod if I'm honest but hook something half decent I needed some more ommpppphhh than my Harrison 1.75TC mainstay. 

So baits, well the usual really, in the feeder stinky Dynamite Shrimp & Krill groundbait with some grated meat and hemp mixed in with it. Then baits robin red flavoured meat, 12mm pre-drilled robin red pellets and Dynamite Hot Fish boilies too with matching paste.. The usual roving approach where I'd fish swims in rotation to try and get a bite. There seems to be some mixed reports on the Wye, some good, lots bad, but I've found with a rising and high river, I've always done ok on the Wye.

Meat is one of those baits I've utter confidence in and I don't mess around with the size, it's always decent pieces either straight on the hook if underarm casting, or with a korum meat stop when casting far. 

Now after a natter with the farmer I walked the whole stretch and realised that my swim options really were limited. Now one of the reasons why I booked this stretch is because even if the river is well up like it was today the first couple of swims can always be fished, and thankfully I had that option today as it really was banging through.

It took a while to get the first bite if I'm honest but then I had a few chub in quick succession all on the flavoured meat. They were not messing around either barbel esk bites they were straight on it.

I must have had 7 or so in the end, oh and a small eel on the meat and I should have brought some more as I got through it all by the end of the session. What I did get through as well was gear, the same snag put pay to 5 or so entire set-ups. Despite knowing broadly where it was the river flow always seemed to find it, this was using 4.5 ounce feeders too.

The first barbel came from the gully swim which was borderline unfishable but the feeder just held bottom and after 20 minutes this lovely little scamp thought it would like a try and the Dynamite hot fish boilies.

For the last few hours I spent it in the big slack swim where after a couple of chub eventually I managed this lovely barbel of 6lb and 8 ounces. A proper decent fight as well, taking line a few times and I thought it was bigger until I netted it.

Sadly I lost the biggest barbel to a snag that I couldn't see literally a rod length out to my left. After a decent fight it got straight in there and there was nothing I could do. With 3 metres of water on it's difficult to know what was there but that barbel knew, it certainly did.  

So another enjoyable trip to the Wye despite the lost end tackle and lost fish frustrations. The weather made it even more so, even though it was cold the sun made up for it and it was very pleasant indeed. It only take me an hour and fifteen minutes to get here, that's what is so appealing especially with such nice scenery.

Anyway I got back to a lovely Victoria Sponge Sam and the Wife made which was nice. A birthday to remember shame they seem to come round so fast these days. Anyway on to the next one !!!


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