The river was around 4ft above summer level and the colour was good. Temperatures had been low during the week but at least we didn’t have a frost Friday night. As the river had been fishing very well over the last few weeks, we were confident of good and consistent catches throughout the match length.
Our team draw was made and apart from Stu Pulsar on peg 95 under the bridge we all seemed to be on decent pegs in our respective sections.
I was drawn on peg 11 in A section and was very pleased! It’s a peg with great barbel form although I’ve never drawn it before. So I left the draw with permission from the team to target barbel (I would have done it anyway!) and was looking forward to a day’s feeder fishing.
When I got to the peg I just set up two feeder rods. On the Wye I always think it pays to be fairly single minded and don’t like to set to many methods up. As it’s a team match I probably should have set a stick / pole as well but thought I could always feed a line close in and set one up if my barbel tactics started to fail.
Rod: The rods I use for most of my Wye / Big river work is the 12/14 Superteam distance feeder at it full 14ft length. I like using a 14ft rod as it enables more line to be kept out of the water therefore reduces the weight of the feeder required to hold bottom. It also gives you more reach when casting and helps prevent catching the bank side vegetation!
Reel: I was using the new Mitchell Big Mouth 5000 reels that are very powerfull and perfect for heavy feeder fishing.
Reel Line: I have spooled up with 8lb Berkley Big mono. Again this is tough / strong mono that is required when casting heavy feeders on rivers such as the Wye.
Hooklength: Started on 6lb
Feeders: Kamasan black cap feeders in all three sizes with weights of 2-3oz.
Hooks: Size 12 and 14 Drennan Super Specialist (Eyed) or Carbon feeder (Spade end)
When feeder fishing on a river I always like to cast a bomb out a few times before the match starts. This gives you a good idea of the swims depth plus any features or snags. On this occasion the middle of the river seemed to be about 12ft deep with little variation in depth across or down the swim. Normally when targeting barbel on a river I like to fish in the area of maximum flow (except in flood conditions) and this was about 2/3 out on peg 11. The bed of the river felt hard but there was some kind of snag or rough ground in the middle and directly in front of me, and with this in mind plus the flow I decided to fish just past the middle. I like to fish near any features like this and feel sure the fish like to be around them and also think snags or rough ground will help keep my feed in that area.
On the all in at 10.30 I started with a medium sized 60 gram (2oz) and loaded it with bronze / red maggots. In a team match on the Wye I like to start with maggots as your first job is to catch a fish! I baited up with 3 or 4 maggots on a size 14 super specialist hook and 6lb hook length. I didn’t want to hook a big fish early and lose it on finer gear, it might be my only chance!
I cast regularly in the same place every 4-5 mins with a view of building the swim up but not over feeding. As I mentioned I just want to start with catching a fish of any description and don’t want to over feed by filling it in with a big feeder.
Unfortunately it was tough going and after 1 1/2 hours I hadn’t had a bite! I was looking at my rod bag and thinking about setting a stick float up when the tip bounced back and I was into a decent fish. Unfortunately something was amiss! It was obviously a big barbel but was fighting strangely as I couldn’t gain any line on it and it was fighting was very erratically. The hook pulled out and I concluded it was foul hooked….Damn (or words to that effect!).
Anyway at least this gave me some hope and there should be more about. Sure enough about 10 mins latter I hooked and landed my first barbel of the day on 4 red maggots. It was around 4lb so pressure was off and I started to think about catching more and good section points! At this point I decided to add a few 3mm pellets through the feeder as well maggots. I like to do this as I think the smell attracts the barbel and also means I can have more confidence in trying a pellet hookbait.
I then quickly had another good bite on maggot that turned out to be a big Brown trout over 4lb. A beautiful fish that I would have been thrilled with when fly fishing but not what I wanted in a match….they don’t count!
So I continued with the maggot hookbait for about another half hour without a bite and decided to try a 12mm pellet as hook bait (Hair rigged). On my second cast I hooked another barbel of about 3lb, great here we go! However it was to be my only fish on the pellet all match. On certain days the pellet can out fish maggots / casters but when the water temp gets colder they seem to lose their effectiveness, always worth a try though.
I added 2 more 4lb barbel and a 1lb Chub before the end of the match and took them all on 4 maggots. It’s interesting to note that I hooked all the fish in the same spot although I did try different places throughout the match. I like to do this as the match progresses as often you can pick of a fish away from the main feed area, but not today!
My weight was 17lb 9oz and I’d done enough to win my section. Dave Roberts was second with 15lb 4 and Jo Brennan was third with 12lb 9oz. Dave caught some big perch and we weighed one at 3lb 2oz!
I love fishing the Wye, it’s a beautiful and varied river and as this day proved it can also produce surprise specimen fish like the Brown trout I caught or Dave’s Perch. On the last round Tony Buckley caught a huge Chub that was weighed at 7lb 3oz!
I also like this winter league as its very competitive but friendly with a great atmosphere. When I returned back to the rowing club for the results it looked like we had done well as a team. Leigh Gardner had won his section (and the match) with 36lb 10oz of Roach and Dace and our worst result as predicted was Stu but he still managed 15lb 14oz and 6 points.
In fact our 53 points was good enough to win on the day, narrowly beating Woody’s on 52 points. We are now winning the league with 38 points but its close! Match Fishing and Woody’s are only 1 and 2 points behind us overall!
I’ve attached some photo’s from my phone, the quality isn’t great but at least it’s something.
If you like river fishing then get on the Wye it’s in awesome form at the moment!