Piscatorial Quagswagging

...the diary of a specialist angler in around the Warwickshire Avon and its tributaries.

Thursday 4 November 2021

River Wye - How Caple Court

It is just over two years now since the mission to try and help an injured kingfisher ended on a sad note, I still think about it from time to time however especially when I often pass near the Vale Wildlife Hospital and all those memories come flooding back. 

Now a kingfisher is a common sight for us anglers spending so much time on the water but to get to see one close up really was something special despite the outcome for the poor little bird, at least it was put to sleep without pain and if I hadn't rescued it, I dread to think what had happened being left out in the open like it was. 

There’s nothing like the thrill of spotting an iridescent flash of blue as a Kingfisher swoops over the river. With its metallic copper breast and bright-blue back this is one of the country’s most colourful birds. 

You can tell the difference between a male and a female by their bills. Males have a completely black bill, whilst females have an orangey-red patch at the base.

I didn't know that till recently as I might have asked for a tweak to my Etsy order for a handmade kingfisher to accompany us in the Jimny on our angling trips. Sam as well recalls the story too as it was close (literally) to his heart as well.  

Now Nic from Avon Angling UK would be with me on this session to the River Wye, and he'd likened the Jimny to a kingfisher when he'd seen me on the local roads in an manner unexpected from a car with its chassis and steering seemingly disconnected.

But it's like all things isn't it, you get used to it and I can hustle it rather well now despite any passenger worrying for their lives such the fear that the thing will fall off the road. Now Nic has fished this stretch before in similar conditions and its always nice to get some tips and tricks as I'd be fishing it blind. 

There was less to go at here from my last trip to the Wye, well I say that, there is still 2/3's of a mile of available water providing it was all accessible that is, because that would be dictated by the rivers levels.

One of the reasons why we booked it was that there is always a swim apparently at the bottom end of the stretch that can be fished despite the river being 4 metres up. It had dropped quite a bit to be fair but still well up on normal river levels and naturally I fancied a river Wye hard fighting barbel.

The weather had turned much colder though but I was hoping we'd hit the river at the right time. Nic had been winkling some nice barbel out in-fact a few days before elsewhere on the river Wye he had managed a double which was a fantastic result. Simple tactics for me as I'd stick to the feeder approach given the likely colour of the water and the chance of a big fish. 

A paste wrapped boilie with pungent groundbait with pellets and some meat for back-up for something else to try if the bites were not forthcoming. It's just over an hour door to door and from dawn to dusk I'll have at least 9-10 hours to try and winkle one or two out as I'd not caught a barbel for a while. The last was a near double from the Warwickshire Avon a number of weeks back. 

I had a back up plan though as I'd also have a pike set-up with me that I could keep close in the car and I would fish a dyed yellow smelt under a float if the chub and barbel were not playing ball. The Wye pike are on a different level and another option would well be worth considering with the brass monkey's making an appearance, and any decent Wye pike caught would beat my 13lb PB from the canal. 

Now the Pike (Esox lucius) cannot possibly be confused with any other British freshwater fish. Long and slender, built for sudden spurts of acceleration from ambush rather than for staying power, they are predominantly green on the flank, dark on the dorsal surface, and camouflaged to match the reed beds in which they often lurk.

In the young fish this camouflage takes the form of light, often yellowish, bars. The adult fish are marked with primrose spots. Fins and tail often have brownish, or even red, edges. 

Dorsal and ventral fins are to the rear. The head is long and the jaws are powerful, sharp grabbing and gripping teeth in the lower jaw. 

The roof of the mouth is covered with hundreds of rearward facing ‘ratchet’ teeth which prevent the prey, once gripped, from slipping out again. 

The eyes are sited on top of the head for upward vision in attack and set to give binocular vision, which enables the fish to ‘sight’ on its prey and judge distance when darting at it.

Prey fishes such as the roach have monocular vision, which gives all-round warning of approach. 

The pike is not so concerned with self-defence (though quite large fish of 8Ib or more are sometimes gobbled, cannibal fashion, by relatives), it needs to look forward and upward. It is a British freshwater fish that can look you squarely in both eyes at once. Many anglers find this disconcerting. 

Anyway back to the fishing to be honest, a whole days fishing doesn't happen very often for me. To be fair 2-5 hours is enough for me however it was my birthday after all so the usual Itchen trip would be swapped for somewhere closer to home. The days are much shorter at this time of year so it would be more than enough time to satisfy the urge.  

We arrived at dawn and went for a nose at the stretch, the mist just lifting and the sun about to rise, my what a setting. Its like being in a different world with only the noise from the natural environment disturbing the peace. 

Nic and I started in the two big open swims where despite the river being well up they were perfectly fishable. The problem was with the recent cold weather the water temperature had dropped to 8 degrees so after a biteless 45 minutes I resulted to getting the Pike rod out and Nic went on the rover upstream.

There were bait fish topping all over the swim close in and it didn't take long to get a run on the smelt and a confident run I tightened up to the circle hook. It was a good hook hold and  a decent fight a nice Pike was in the net. Not huge by Wye standards but at 11lb 6 ounces it was most welcome indeed. 

I alternated between the two swims with Pike rod and then with the Barbel rod and there wasn't much doing. I changed to luncheon meat and then the first chub pulls materialised. Some decent bites too but no fish were forthcoming.

Nic was struggling for bites as well upstream and also luncheon meat seemed to bring the most interest. Lunchtime was approaching though so after meeting back at the cars I cooked up some bacon for a BLT from the back of the Jimny and we discussed tactics. 

So we both went on the rove again with Nic fishing a swim he'd baited up and eventually bites started to come. All from chub though the barbel just didn't seem to be interested in a feed, having not quite dusted off their winter jackets off yet.

I caught them up to 4.5lb some decent bites and some nice fish. Initially the pulls and plucks resulting in a fish on for me if I let out some slack like to give less resistance. 

Nic had more chub than me in the end but even for him the barbel didn't show and he has been catching them no problem in various stretches of the Wye. Even with dropping (3ft when we got there) and clearing Wye at dusk they didn't respond. 

Still a fantastic day in great company and considering its not 'that' far to drive 60 miles and an hour and 15 minutes, I really need to fish the Wye more often especially when it looks like this. A slice of heaven.  


  1. It is a slice of heaven - I was lucky enough to grow up* a stone’s throw from it - 60 miles is nothing!

    *some may argue I never grew up.

  2. Can see why you miss it Brian !!! I dread to think the size of some of the pike that are lurking in its depths. Gonna need a bigg'a boat


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...