Piscatorial Quagswagging

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

Wednesday 15 March 2023

River Wye - Middle Ballingham

Best laid plans and all that, because prior to this last session of the season Nic from Avon Angling and I were up for a bit of trotting off the croy where hopefully the chub were up for a feed. 

Now a croy is a natural or man-made protrusion or jetty projecting on a river and used to manage river fisheries, providing an obstacle to slow down current, a shelter for fish, a funnel to net them, and a platform to cast from. 

The problem was that the croy with the recent snow melt and rain was going to be 3 metres underwater, yes 3 metres. The levels just kept on going up and up and up, so there was only one thing to fish for and that was a barbel.

I purchased recently a Korum Big River Rod which is 12ft and 2.75TC which hopefully would be man enough in these testing conditions. The problem was my feeders were inadequate so a quick stop off at Angling Direct in Coventry after work for some 5 ounces feeders and leads, and some Dynamite Shrimp and Krill groundbait I was good to go. 

Nic messaged me when I was on-route to say the river was fishable which was a relief and when I arrived 15 minutes later better get fishing hadn't we. It had broken it's banks in places but thankfully the 60 mile drive wasn't a waste of time. 

A walk down the cardiac testing hill, not so bad down if a little slippy and precarious but getting back to the car is a fitness tester, as for those less mobile it would be a challenge. The Wye and Usk Foundation should be more transparent about the access, it's not brilliant lets put it that way especially when you have to lug all the gear down there.  

Nic knows this stretch very well so those swims you think you could just drop a bait in close you'd actually be fishing on a bramble hedge. Finger in the air to actually guess where the river bed actually starts. 

The wind was baltic, proper cold and through out the day the wind was some of the worst I'd experienced when fishing. Not so much the intensity but the wind chill, which despite wearing four layers of clothing, I could have easily put on a fifth. 

After a walk up and down the stretch to case some of the swims a dunk of the thermometer showed that it was 8.1 degrees, certainly fine for barbel to feed but with the river still rising for much of the day with loads of debris coming down (including whole trees) I knew it would a tough and testing session.

Still worlds away from Gary Lineker's twitter echo chamber and life in general whatever the outcome these whole days fishing, which I find hard to do remember, would be most welcome.

We both went out separate ways and there is only one option for this type of fishing and that is travel light and rove from swim to swim try and find any fish that were feeding.

The stretch is a half a mile long and we both covered that and more, having to negotiate a style and a bridge and a gate in pursuit of our quarry. (I covered 15k steps) 

I lost 2 lots of gear in the process but with Nic's guidance managed to find a couple of nice swims which gave a satisfying dunk of the lead to at least you knew the bait was presented ok.

A longer cast with the 5 ounce feeder in to the mosh pit had the feeder pulled out of position easily even when using a bow in the line to try and ease the tension on the line. It was fishable though and it was just a matter of waiting for that rod to jump in to life. 

A good few hours in without a nibble though this wasn't looking good. The debris coming down was relentless and frequent casting was required to prevent the build-up.

We were both using the same baits with paste wrapped glugged Dynamite Baits Hot-Fish Boilies. Chub on the Wye do seem to love meat and I alternated between the two as hook baits even adding a few maggots on my size 10 hook to at least try and get a bite. 

Not even any chub pulls though so as the session was panning out this could well be a one bait affair. Around lunchtime Nic came for a natter and he was currently biteless like I was. He was in the swim we both said looked the best and 10 minutes after he returned, he had some great news. 

He managed to get a bite and a 6 or 7 pound Barbel decided he wanted to get in one one of Nic's YouTube videos to show off its recent scrape with an otter. 😀

And that was that really, I fished until I had enough which was still around 10 hours of fishing and had literally nothing to show for it apart from a weathered face and a couple of lost feeders. 

Some cold rain was due half an hour after I left and boy did it tank it down when I was driving back. Nic stuck it out to his credit but no more fish for him. 

So not the end to the session I wanted but good company and another Wye stretch ticked off the list. So  2 rods, twenty hours of a bait being presented and only one fish to show for it, as expected slim pickings. 

The river was on the drop and as I type this over one meter down 24 hours later, I bet those barbel are switched on already bet get on it, then again we cannot can we, unless my last name was James and my first name is Bob. 

Back to the canals it is then, I'll be back on the Wye, soon enough, what a place !!!!


  1. Just one degree warmer and that might have been a completely different story - but top work even fishing in those conditions. I’m looking forward to a summer trip to the Wye myself - and reading about those canal zander…

    1. 24 hours can make a big difference too, dropped a metre since yesterday that would help. Canal Zander for sure !! but other species on the canal too as I've been told where some decent canal tench are !!

  2. Great read, bonus barbel on a tough day by the looks of it. Been a while since I fished the Wye, maybe soon, I will be back on it.

    1. Cheers Adam, I've only fished it 6 or 7 times maybe, a cracking river with stunning scenery on much of it, even I need to fish it more as it's not even that far away.


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