Another Richard and Jane full Welsh breakfast saw us fully sated and ready for action, well a snooze really. We didn’t have time for further rest and so it was to the banks of the Wye to see if we could tempt a few final grayling between now and our last few hours on the bank the following day.
There was a bitterly cold wind blowing upstream and within 10 or 15 minutes of being in the water the cold seemed to seep in to our very bones. I had to get out every so often and do a highland jig on the banks in an effort to generate some heat into the partially frozen flesh. Despite the numerous loose layers of clothing that one needs at this time of the year, a strong wind seems to make a mockery out the theory of warm and windproof!
Dan fished a swim that we know produces well. There is a crease that runs from almost the near bank diagonally across the river to about mid way, where a feeder stream enters the river from the opposite bank. Its reasonably deep and seems to hold large numbers of fish during the late winter months. Its an easy spot to fish, just drop the float in and ease it along the crease. After a short period of feeding, the fish can be pulled in quite close, almost taking the bait from under your feet. Fish can be caught at pretty much any distance along the long line of the crease and of varying sizes. This area has produced the odd 2lb fish but generally most of the fish are a pound plus and plenty in the 1lb 8oz – 1lb 12oz range.
It didn’t take long for Dan to get into a nice grayling and he continued to catch up until lunchtime. He fed with a small bait dropper and this kept the grayling quite close to his bank. I fished 30 yards above him and trotted down quite close to the bank, where there was a visible drop off in the gravel bottom. I kept a small amount of feed going in every cast and soon I too started to catch. I had several nice grayling and then sadly lost a very big fish which I could not move. I waded downstream and kept the fish under pressure. Still it refused to budge and the rod was almost creaking at the strain and the line sung in the wind. Eventually the fish boiled on the surface and I caught a glimpse of a big dorsal, then the fish plunged down and the hook popped out! I may have said “damn” or something at this point. If it was a grayling (and I was certain it was) it was a very big fish.
A cup of coffee always helps to relieve the pain and it at least gave me the opportunity to warm up. By now I’d had grayling to 1lb 14oz and was much happier than I was over the first three days of our trip. Dan and I swapped places and I think Dan had caught about 10-12 fish. I jumped in and caught on and off for the remainder of the afternoon. Just feeding pretty much every cast kept the swim alive, however the area was fishing much slower than in previous visits. Despite this I caught some nice grayling and a few trout. I think I ended the day with 22 or 23 to just under 2lbs. Dan finished a little behind me on maybe 16 or 17, so for us two it had been a turnaround of fortunes at long last. Kevin and Geoff had fished the opposite bank both down by the town bridge and then further upstream and almost opposite Dan and I. They also had a brief visit to another section of the Irfon but with very little to show for their efforts. I think they ended up with a couple of grayling each.
It was our last night at the cottage so we decided to head out for a meal and a pint. We would have to be up fairly early to pack the car prior to going fishing for a few hours and then heading home mid afternoon. So after saying farewell to our wonderful hosts, we headed back to the town stretch of the Wye. We felt it fair to rotate the main productive areas and then try a few odd swims further upstream. The exploration of one swim proved most rewarding and enlightening.
Kev and Nathan on the Wye
All four of us caught a few fish but the fishing was very slow. It was just an odd fish here and there and the cold was almost crippling. Dan fished a lovely swim some way upstream and managed to catch several nice grayling when it was his turn to have a go in the ‘banker’ swim. I had pretty much had enough and so wandered up to see Kevin who was now fishing Dan’s first swim. It was a perfect looking spot. The river straightened after a bend and then the shallow water dropped into a deep run, where a crease created a lovely smooth glide. After a couple of test runs with the float, Kevin made a few adjustments and the float was gently wafting downstream when it disappeared. Kevin stuck into a very nice fish. It fought well and evaded capture for a while before I finally slipped the net under a fine grayling. It had big thick set shoulders and a lovely bright dorsal fin. It looked about 2 1/4lbs and my estimate wasn’t far off, it weighed 2lb 3oz. There was a small v shaped scar just below its dorsal fin where a cormorant or some other predator had grabbed it at some point and a single scar on the other side. Kevin was over the moon and we photographed the fish and put her back.
Kev’s 2lb 3oz Grayling
After sorting his camera out and re-baiting the hook, Kevin dropped the float in to the same spot again. His reel tangled whilst his float sat almost motionless in the swim. The float then seemed to drag under and I informed Kevin that his float had been pulled under. He lifted the rod tip to dislodge the float from what appeared to be the riverbed, when he found another good grayling attached to the hook! Incredibly, despite the lack of a strike, the fish stayed on. It fought for a while but soon gave up and I could see it was another ’2′. As the fish slipped into the waiting landing net I saw a familiar scar! Er it was the same fish again. The scar matched and so did the weight. Well who would have believed it, the same fish in two casts. That was nothing believe me.
Nathan’s 2lb 3oz Grayling
We returned the fish slightly upstream and again Kevin sorted his float and bait out and after a few minutes in went the baited rig again. Once again the float appeared to snag bottom and just slowly sank out of sight. Kevin flicked the rod tip and a heavy weight was felt on the end. For a while he thought he had caught the bottom when up popped another good grayling. How bizarre but surely this couldn’t be the same fish? Well it was. Three casts and the same fish three times. Kevin decided to have a cup of tea and we couldn’t quite believe what had just happened. Perhaps this is more common than we realise. Luckily this fish was easily identifiable so we knew it was a recapture, with other grayling it would be far more difficult to tell.
I had a go in the swim whilst Kevin watched. The float gently drifted downstream when it appeared to snag bottom. I stuck and felt what seemed like a dead weight on the other end. Of course we both knew what it was and we weren’t wrong. It was the same grayling yet again. Four casts and four times it appeared. This seemed remarkable. The fish was returned again and as with the previous 3 occasions rested for a short while before gliding off silently into the bright waters of the Wye. Well it was certainly a talking point.
By now Geoff was bored so he too wandered up. We told him what had happened and he could hardly believe it. Both Kevin and I certainly didn’t want to fish the swim again, just in case. It seemed unfair on the fish so we left. Never in a million years did we think that fish would be caught again, that was impossible. Geoff fished the swim for a while and Kevin watched. After sometime nothing had happened and it seemed that perhaps that had been the only fish in the swim. Geoff continued and after may 15-20 minutes the float appeared to snag bottom. Geoff of course lifted the rod and felt a dead weight. “Bugger, caught on the bottom” exclaims Geoff. “Oh no” says Kevin, “That’s the grayling” and indeed it was. Again the fish rested, as all big grayling do, and then slowly swam back into the waters and no doubt back to its favourite spot. Still we wouldn’t find out because that was enough for us. We decided to call it a day and head home.
Dan finished top rod with 7 or 8 grayling to upper 1s and our friend was like the proverbial bus, you weight for ages and several turn up at once, well five times in this case. Anyway I hope our friend moves on and has a peaceful retirement. So our Welsh odyssey finished on a rather unusual note and we all look forward to our return here next winter.
Geoff in Action