Allan’s Day Salmon Fishing at Bigsweir, River Wye, Llandogo

Allan’s Day Salmon Fishing at Bigsweir, River Wye, Llandogo

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I have been a visitor to the mighty Wye on and off for the last 20 years. More recently I have enjoyed the amazing barbel fishing on offer but with salmon runs improving I intend to spend more time ‘chasing silver’ this year. So yesterday, 11th April 2013, I made the trip to Bigsweir on the Wye with a friend in hope of landing a big spring salmon!

The Wye salmon season kicks off in early March. Last year March bought low water (who remembers the drought?) and warm weather – perfect for keeping the spring run in the lower river. This resulted in bumper catches for fisheries such as Bigsweir and Wyesham early on. Bigsweir ended March 2012 with 37 springers – a result hard to match in living memory. 2013 started with heavy rainfall and much lower temperatures – the upshot of this being the fish are spread out through the river and have only started to run in numbers now that we have some slightly warmer weather. The theory being that they wait for river temperature to rise above that of the sea.

With this in mind, I delayed the start of my season until yesterday when I was kindly invited to fish Bigsweir by a friend. We have big spring tides at the moment and the tide goes right up to the top of the Bigsweir salmon beats in these conditions – perceived wisdom is that the tide pushes fish in front of it as the flow reverses so the window for catching is around 2 hours before the tide peaks. Too early in the morning for my friend and I on this occasion! So we were in position for around 10.00am to intercept any fresh fish occupying lies as the water subsided.

Bigsweir Tackle
14ft Speyworks Rod & Sage Fly Reel

Tactics were pretty standard – 14’-15’ double-handed fly rods (I opted for a 14’ Speyworks, Sage reel with a selection of Guideline shooting heads to match depth and current), shooting-heads and tube flies, mainly from the new range of Fulling Mill flies.

The water was looking very good – clear with just a hint of blue/green tinge perfect colour albeit a little on the high side. We started on the fisheries upper-section, the Wyeseal beat. One of my favourites, as it offers superb fly water. First run down I saw a slight splash down beyond a large croy and as my fly swung in, the line tightened – great! Sadly it turned out to be and energetic and well mended kelt – I called to my friend only to see his rod hooped over. I quickly unhooked and returned my kelt and raced up the bank. This was no kelt! After an initial surge the fish found its way into a snag and after much heaving and tugging, giving slack line etc the line finally parted. Far from ideal!

That’s where the excitement ended but after a great lunch in the hut, (an old Station building that gets a mention in the book ‘Fishing Huts’ by Jo Orchard-Lisle) we were back on the river below the bridge, sadly with nothing doing. I however did get the really cool landscape photo with the double rainbow! All in all a great day out and I can’t wait to get back.

Bigsweir Rainbow
Rainbow over the Wye Valley

For more information about salmon fishing on the Wye together with live webcams and fishing opportunities please visit:

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  1. Nice that you saw fit to write so enthusiastically about an all but fishless day, Allan! It’s not just about ‘catching’ is it!

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