Friday 4 November 2022

River Wye - How Caple Court - Mick's 50th

It certainly doesn't feel like 12 months to the day when good mate Nic from Avon Angling UK and I fished How Caple Court  😮. It was proper cold that time where the barbel were certainly off feeding and we ended up scratching around for bites. 

We both caught Chub and I managed a pike in the end, but with conditions a little more favourable for the barbel this time, I hoped to bank a Wye barbel having not caught one before. 

Nic's YouTube video of that session 12 mths ago can be seen here 

Anyway a bit of a milestone birthday this as I am 50 years old apparently, how did that happen. So how does an old git celebrate his birthday ? well a 3 day dance weekender with DJ's galore and Fat Boy Slim at the helm of course. 

That's not for a couple of weeks, but boy I cannot wait as I need a bit of a blow out, prior to that a tab behind the adopted local pub for ones circle of friends where the bonfire and fireworks would make a fitting finale. (I think 🤔)

Now unlike Nic who has fished the Wye more times than I have had hot dinners (well it seems that way !!), for me not being used to this kind of river it can be very overwhelming at first. I've only fished 3 times on the Wye and to be honest I've found it hard going every time I've gone, but with Nic at the helm so to speak, at least he offers an experienced hand where I'd be largely fishing blind.

How Caple Court offers 2/3 mile of left bank fishing a few miles upstream of Ross on Wye. This is a particularly beautiful part of the Herefordshire Wye Valley when the rivers are at summer levels can be shallow and weedy in places, however there are deeper holes in between these sections that hold the fish.

At the upper limit of the beat where I had a nose last time the river is usually shallow with gravel at the bank allowing easy wading however not possible with the river having some recent rain as I'd be up to my armpits.

There is a near bank gully immediately downstream of this which Nic pointed out to me last time and another approximately half way along the stretch providing the perfect opportunity for trotting off the rod tip if the conditions allowed. 

Towards the lower limit of the beat the current slows to a near standstill into Rock Pool where even when the river is in flood it is perfectly fishable, where pike, perch and chub in the winter months will often be found.

I could have fished another stretch I suppose but it really is a stunning part of the world like the land the time forgot where you are within your own world without the influence of others and in the current climate, anything to put the daily stresses behind for a while is most welcome. 

There is also a chance here of one of the Wye doubles which is another reason why I fancied getting back to the familiar. 

So with trotting out I decided to do more fishing this time rather than the usual Quagswagging approach. So the boot was filled with tackle rather than gas stoves and various food items and a flask of tea and a pepped up Stagg Dynamite Chilli enhanced army ration provided the belly warmer. (Not bad these thermos food flasks are they)
Now I did think about a flask of port and brandy, but probably not a good idea as the mandatory two days in the office started this week, oh the joys of the A5 in sunny Nunny and the unbelievable road works that are happening in Coventry at the minute. 

Anyway so a pungent groundbait and pellet mix would be stuffed in to the feeder and a Dynamite Hot Fish & GLM Boilie with matching paste wrap would be mounted to the hair. 

I had meat for back-up and also a Pike set-up to mix it up a bit if need be. Barbel and Chub would be the mainstay but as much I plan sessions mine of late, well errrrrrrrrr haven't gone too well let's put it that way. 

Anyway with an early start the 60 mile hour and 12 minute journey went like a breeze despite the rain which seemed to have been falling for over 24 hours, and during the session it alternated between showers and some of the clearest skies and brightest and cockle warming sun I've seen in November.

In-fact during one of the various quiet spells at one point when I was sat in my t-shirt and nearly nodded off, but then there was probably a good reason for that, then again it was my birthday after all. I've tried various Brewdog beers and this about the only one I'd spend my hard eared money on. Not cheap, but not a bad drop. 

Anyway after getting off the mark with a small chub at the starter pegs Nic had rang me and said he had his first Barbel and it was a good'un too. Nic like me is a roving angler at heart which considering the gear he lugs about is not taken lightly.
But he is an experienced hand on the Wye and dropping on to the fish was key.

Unless you fish this river in low summer condition you wouldn't know the gully existed unless you leaded about the whole river which is no mean feat considering the scale of it. But to those in the know this popular peg often is a holding spot for this fish and it only took a couple of minutes before a battle ensued in the flow when a barbel snaffled up Nic's paste wrapped hot fish boilie. 

Tough gear is required in these sort of conditions and after a serious workout Nic safely landed the barbel and I went over for a gander.

It certainly was a stocky fish around 8lb or so. Rested and returned Nic kindly gave up the swim as he wanted me to try and catch a Wye barbel of my own. In-fact he told me to finish off in this swim as it often can produce at dusk when the conditions are challenging like they were for this session. 

That swim didn't produce for me during the morning but I would return to it later on before curfew time. After the 'rope' swim didn't produce either I decided to head back to the car have my lunch and take stock and have a pike rod out in the huge slack that exists at the start of the stretch.

I soon got bored of watching that so it was time to get on the rove again to try and drop on some barbel. Nic by this time had managed another one so his meticulous approach was working. Despite using the same method I was only picking up the chub though where I managed 6 or 7 in the end whereas Nic ended up on 4 barbel and no chub. To be honest I had the boilie tighter to the hook than I usually do so maybe that was the difference.  

None of the chub were that big either with the biggest maybe a 3.5lber. Nic was on to the barbel again where this time he managed one at the top of stretch so we both headed up and settled in to some boiling swims where the high levels of the river were undeniable.

Nic's fish came from these swims though where usually I'd be looking for more slacker water but it just goes to show doesn't it. Those swims and two more were biteless so Nic and I decided to settle in to our final swims. Me in the gully swim with Nic just down from me in the 'rope' swim. After a chub within a few minutes I got the bait out again and 10 minutes later a decent bite and a fish was on.

It didn't feel big but it wasn't fighting like a chub so I was pleasantly surprised when a small splasher barbel surfaced and at least ticked off my first Wye barbel. Nic managed one of similar size in his swim but I wanted a bigger fish and I didn't have long left. It's nice to see fish off that stamp though as we hardly see those on the Warwickshire Avon. 

Anyway after having a chub pulled the boilie off the hair soon after I decided I couldn't be bothered to faff around re-baiting again with the light levels so low, so I cut a chunk of luncheon meat off and put it straight on the hook and got it out for a last gasp attempt for a barbel.

And the fishing Gods must have been looking down on me because within seconds an unmistakable barbel bite and a hard fighting barbel was on the end. A great fight in the flow but eventually in net.  I rested it in the margins packed my gear up and Nic came over as we were leaving to highlight the 6 or 7lber with the light on his camera set-up. 

A very enjoyable day in great company and thanks for the present Nic, will add it to my growing reel collection. A tough one, but even in on a rising river where literally whole trees were floating down the river bites can still be had. 


  1. Happy birthday old boy. 50 eh ? Love the Wye and good to have a few fish too.

    1. Yeah really enjoyed it, need to go there more often !!


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