The big worry was that that the hot and dry conditions of May and indeed April would continue into “Flaming June” and do some real damage to the river rather as the legendary 1976 June fish kill. In the event, as you can see from the graph a series of wettish days brought levels up from below summer levels. Unlike other regions of the UK the rainfall was not always spread over the entire catchment sufficiently to bring the full spate needed to wash out all the algae and debris and bring the temperatures right down. There were days when this nearly reached 24 degrees C. By and large this brought fishing to an end but not completely for certain lower Wye beats.

The June hydrograph from Erwood on the upper Wye

Nonetheless with restrictions starting to be eased, more fishing did take place in June. As expected, given the conditions, the bulk of catches came from the beats below Monmouth and fly fishing took precedence over the spinner. Above Hay, still subject to the 5 mile travel restriction and with low water, was hardly fished and we have only one account of a fish lost. The most upstream fish came from Whitney Court and together with a second fish from Luggsmouth brought the total for this reach to two.

A degree of caginess about catches – most unusual for the Wye – coupled with low numbers of anglers visiting might suggest that the river was short of fish. This is far from the case. The respectable run of 2 sea winter fish was augmented by the appearance of grilse during June. There was plenty visible and some bigger ones too: a couple of 20lbs fish from Bigsweir were topped by a 27lbs fish from Wyesham.

Reports from other rivers has been sparse. The Tywi had more of the rain than Wye or Usk and there was some encouraging reports of catches for a few days but not sustained. Usk continued to provide fish in the beats below Abergavenny. It too missed out on a decent spate.  

What is now needed is a proper 4ft + spate to lift fish out of estuaries. We could yet see something good about 2020 which will long be remembered for the dreadful Covid 19, lockdowns and economic gloom.

All the best,

Dr Stephen Marsh-Smith OBE

Please note that the views within this report are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of the Wye & Usk Foundation.