Ex­plo­sive ac­tion on the float! Sit back and en­joy a bril­liant bar­bel ad­ven­ture on the River Wye

You might catch more fish on the lead, but this is a lot more fun

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME -

“Float­fish­ing for bar­bel in such a beau­ti­ful lo­ca­tion is im­pos­si­ble to beat”

LIME­STONE pil­lars form the back­bone of Sy­monds Yat and the deep val­ley where the Wye carves its way through the bor­der coun­ties.

Here pere­grine fal­cons hunt and raise their young, while down on the for­est floor wild boar root up the earth in their search for food.

This is a spe­cial place, and ev­ery vis­it­ing an­gler is cap­ti­vated by the Wye. She is a mag­netic river that you can’t help be­ing drawn to, seem­ingly un­changed since mam­moths and sabre-toothed cats roamed the val­ley 12,000 years ago.

In win­ter there are magic mo­ments as a pike bung bobs on the sur­face be­fore plung­ing away… while spring brings the sil­ver salmon, the king of all fish, heed­ing the call of fresh wa­ter.

A lit­tle later shad and lam­preys fol­low suit, and while they are not fished for they all have their place in this wa­tery king­dom.

When sum­mer ar­rives and the king has lost his ap­petite, the prince suc­ceeds to the throne. Bar­bel will rip your rod off its rests and make your arms ache.

Af­ter th­ese early catches we move into the dreamy dog days of sum­mer, when there is a bet­ter way to en­joy this area of out­stand­ing nat­u­ral beauty and the bar­bel that live be­tween the rocks and boul­ders.

My com­pan­ion was Adam Fisher, an angling guide and fish­ery owner. Don­ning chest waders, we slipped into clear wa­ter the colour of very weak tea with no milk. The river had fi­nally lost its murk­i­ness, the re­sult of trickle ir­ri­ga­tion runoff from farm­ers’ crops close to the Wye.

Con­fi­dently we pushed on against the flow, crunch­ing gravel un­der­foot. We were head­ing for mid-river, mag­gots stowed in pouches hang­ing from our waists. This would be bar­bel fish­ing with­out a bolt rig in sight.

I rigged up a Dren­nan Se­ries 7 1½lb test curve rod with a Daiwa The­ory 3000 loaded with the no-non­sense 6lb Max­ima. My float was a 4g Crys­tal Loafer fixed top-and-bot­ton. Bulk shot­ting at three-quar­ter depth was fol­lowed by a mi­cro swivel connecting a

hook­length of the same Max­ima. Adam rec­om­mended a size 12 Guru MWGB hook with five large white mag­gots im­paled on it.

The skill would lie in guid­ing the float down the far bank where the bar­bel would not pause to ques­tion why it was there.

Pouch­fuls of of grubs were despatched down­stream. Fry were first to in­ves­ti­gate, but they were too small to halt the progress of our floats. Dace and chub came next and then, af­ter five min­utes of reg­u­lar feed­ing, it was the turn of the bar­bel.

Th­ese were smaller than the Wye fish you catch on pel­lets or boilies, per­haps bar­bel choose to spend their youth in the shal­lows.

More mag­gots were the an­swer, draw­ing up their big­ger re­la­tions from a snag 50 yards be­low us. Their or­ange fins be­trayed their pres­ence as they worked their way up to us, and once they were within trot­ting dis­tance our ses­sion could re­ally take off.

Bites from small fish tailed off, and with ev­ery trot our loafer floats made it fur­ther down the flow. Adam, know­ing that some­thing much bet­ter was on the cards, mended his line and the float trav­elled over a de­pres­sion in the grav­elly river bed.

As the hook skimmed bot­tom, a set of rub­bery white lips sucked it off track, the float dipped and Adam struck con­fi­dently.

The rod hooped over and he was bat­tling the strength of both the fish and the Wye it­self. For a time he could gain no line back as the clutch whirred to avert a part­ing of the ways.

Yes, a bolt rig would have pro­duced a quicker bite but I can as­sure you one hun­dred per cent that it would have only have been half as much fun. For five min­utes Adam was never sure of vic­tory,

and even when the land­ing net came into play, fear­some tail slaps left the out­come in doubt. Even­tu­ally, though, the bar­bel was safely in the mesh and Adam’s smile said it all.

Now it was my turn. The rod bent right down to the cork and I mar­velled at the power of what I had hooked. On fairly light, bal­anced tackle there was no way I could bring the fight to a swift con­clu­sion. My quarry would dic­tate matt­ters and test my line and knots to the limit.

Float­fish­ing for bar­bel in such a beau­ti­ful lo­ca­tion is im­pos­si­ble to beat – true, I might have caught more here with a lead, or big­ger fish on an­other river, but this had been a day to re­mem­ber.

In­ci­den­tally, on the wa­ter we fished there was a dis­pen­sa­tion from the EA, al­low­ing us to use mag­gots. Please check be­fore do­ing the same, or wait un­til the sea­son, which be­gins in midSeptem­ber, when gen­eral use of this bait is per­mit­ted.

Adam Fisher gets a shower from a lively Wye bar­bel.

Dren­nan Crys­tal Loafers, floats of choice.

Strong hooks are cru­cial for this tac­tic.

Back goes Adam’s big Wye bar­bel.

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