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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


The Delightful River Wye

I've been fortunate to fish this beautiful river since the 1950's, first with my grandfather who fished it two days a week during the salmon season, usually from a boat with a gillie. I would be taken off to fish for roach and chub, sometimes perch and pike. Barbels were not known in those days. The roach fishing was excellent and my first target fish. I left Berkshire with my mate Mark Hyde at dawn the countryside was white with frost as we drove along the M4 towards Swindon we were confronted by a vehicle swerving from the hard shoulder to the second lane. As we passed the said car we could see an old lady who could just about peep over the steering wheel. She was certainly an accident waiting to happen. Mark just having retired from the police force probably wished he was still in the force. It was disgraceful driving. Thankfully it was early in the morning.

An hour and a half later we were driving into Ross then onto the river, after parking up I got out the thermometer I got a water temperature reading of 46 degrees F. It was time for breakfast, as chief cook and bottle washer I soon rustled up two plates of eggs bacon and tomatoes with bread and butter with a mug of tea. I reckon far better than in any cafť's. Also the bacon was the real stuff, none of that supermarket rubbish that you could read a paper through. Mark chose the best bacon his local butcher had on display; it was about half an inch thick.

Just as we finished breakfast Mike Evans the bailiff turned up as he wanted to fish with me for the morning, Soon Mike had a mug of tea and a bacon and egg sandwich. Having sorted out the tackle Mark Mike and I headed off down river, I suggested two swims for Mark to fish while Mike and I went further down river. After chucking in two cricket size balls of mashed bread we sat and chatted for about half an hour. I then said to Mike "Time you baited with a chunk of crust and cast out" Within minutes the rod tip pulled over and Mike was into his first chub. Sadly it got off. Next cast another fish was on; within minutes this fish got into some trailing bramble branches and got off.
Third cast another fish hooked all with fifteen minutes. This time I netted a chub about 3lbs. More bread mash was fed into the swim and more bites were forthcoming some missed some hooked and lost and others landed. About one o'clock Mike had to leave. I fed in several balls of mashed bread and a dozen bait size bits of balanced paste, and then head off to see how Mark was doing. He had caught some chub. I said "Feed in some mash then we can have a brew" Sitting in the river bank in the spring like weather we both discussed this lovely river.

It had just gone three o'clock when we arrived back in our swims, first cast a savage take which turned out to be a barbel about 8lbs. I then had some of the most exciting fishing on the Wye in the next seven chucks I had seven good chub six of these fish averaging just over 4lbs. On the seventh cast I waited about three or four minutes then the rod tip pulled over I set the fish into another chub. After quite a long fight I was able to see I had a better chub. As I netted the fish, then lifted the net I could feel the extra weight saying to myself "Itís probably a five pounder" Quickly taking out the barbless hook I zeroed the scales and slide the fish into a large plastic bag. The scales gave me a reading of 5-9-0. Placing the fish back in the net I rested it in the water then called Mark so he could take a pic. Job done we released the fish. I reckon that was the icing on the cake. Yes, I've had six pounders from the Wye but a 5lb fish is still a very good fish. A few minutes later my mate Col Sgt Tam Miller arrived as he was fishing with us next day, Tam is new to river fishing but I felt I could put him onto a barbel perhaps three or four.

With darkness falling over the Wye Valley we headed off to Copperfield House our B&B, after a shower and change of cloths we went off for dinner. All three of us were impressed with the food, two meals cost just over £10-00. We didnít have any complaints. Back at the B&B I went off to bed while Tam and Mark walked along the lane to the riverside tavern, as I donít drink I reckon it would have been a waste of time. I was probably fast asleep within thirty minutes of getting into the double size bed with its black sheets. I thought a bit of a waste at my age. Still thatís life.
Next morning we all had an excellent breakfast, in fact I have never had a better breakfast than one gets at Copperfield House and Fran even bakes her own wholemeal bread. Then it was off to Wye Angling a delightful shop with friendly staff, I can certainly recommend the shop if your in the area. Tam and Mark purchased various items of tackle including all of the LG shot they had in stock. I suggested they get some swim feeders and two pints of gentles each which I reckon would be the way to go if you want a few barbel.

A Brace of Barbel for Tam
Back on the river I put the two youngsters into a double swim where they could help one another; also Tam didnít have a landing net. I fished a nearby swim. Though my job was to try and help these youngsters catch some barbell, if they didnít want to feed then it would be chub. The water temperature had gone from 46 degrees to 47 degrees F overnight.
Within an hour Mark had a surprise grayling well over the pound mark, Soon it was lunch so I went off to prepare bacon and eggs with a mug of tea which was delivered to their swims. I went off and grabbed an hour catching three chub all on cheese. About two oíclock I went off and made tea which again was served at the water edge with a supply of biscuits. Within five minutes Tam had his first river fish a 6lb barbell, apart from salmon and trout, he had never coarse fished the rivers, it was great see him with a grin a mile wide holding his prize for a picture.

An hour later I heard someone shout ďMartinĒ grabbing my scales and weigh bag I shot off up river to find Mark and Tam with bent rods; it was a double hook up. Quickly netting Marks fish we extracted the hook then with the fish in the net Tams fish was netted. So we didnít mix up the fish as they looked like peas in a pod, we set up the camera and weighing gear then lifted our marks fish for a quick weighing and pic the fish weighed 7-4-0 a PB for Mark. Having returned his fish we set about weighing and photographing Tamís fish. It weighed 7-8-0. I had two happy anglers on my hands it was time for another brew. I had another hour in my swim catching four more chub I then called it a day in the fading light. The four days had taken a lot out of me. I donít know how many miles I had walked on both the Kennet and Wye, I arrived home late on Monday night and today Tuesday I was at the doctors for blood tests etc, an appointment was made for me to see specialist on April 2nd. I must say without fear or favour we have the best health service in the world. Tomorrow I will be targeting the roach on the River Ribble.

Martin James Fishing