THE WYE, or Gwy, forms part of the border between England and Wales. Indeed, most of its lower reaches flow through England – though it is “born” in Wales, on Plynlimon mountain. It is also the fifth-longest river in the UK, flowing into the Severn Estuary. The Wye also has a number of significant tributaries that are great fisheries in their own right, such as the Irfon, Ithon, Monnow, Lugg and Arrow.
The Wye is a rare thing in salmon fishing in that it retains a good run of large spring salmon. Fish of 20lb are regularly caught in the early months of the season, fish of 30lb occasionally show up in the catch returns, and in recent times rumours of 40lb fish have been heard. The Wye is a serious early-season prospect and well worth fishing from season’s opening in March through April to the end of May. At this time, provided there has been a decent amount of winter rain, river levels remain high enough to encourage a steady stream of salmon into the river. As we reach the summer months and levels decline so, too, do the chances of catching. In late summer and autumn the fishing picks up again, provided there has been sufficient rain to move fish from pool to pool. While spring fishing is usually best on the middle to lower reaches, autumn salmon can be caught throughout the system.
Curiously, the Wye doesn’t have a run of sea-trout to speak of, but the brown trout fishing more than makes up for this with good numbers to specimen size. The best of the fishing is generally found above the town of Hay-on-wye. Prime time is usually from April through to the end of June when the river’s hatches are at their peak.
The town of Hay-on-wye is a rough marker for the downstream limit to where grayling can be caught. Above it, the tributaries Irfon, Ithon, Lugg and Monnow provide many miles of productive water. Fishing is with fly only during the trout season, but once this comes to an end in October the trotting of maggots under a stick float is permitted on some beats until March. There’s always a chance of a 2lb or 3lb fish.
The Wye is a beautiful, accessible salmon river.