BROWN TROUT You will encounter a mix of wild and stocked fish. The absence of fin damage is not a completely reliable indicator of whether the fish is a stockie or not, because wherever possible we try to stock perfect fish. However, if you are looking for fish for the pot and provided the fish meets the size limit and killing it will not exceed your bag limit we would prefer you to remove fish that are obviously stockies. The river will produce brown trout up to, very exceptionally, 6 Ibs or more. These are rarely seen or caught but they are there. The largest wild trout that you are likely to catch on fly will be around 2½ to 3 Ibs and fish at this size are more likely to be stockies so look carefully. We are actively engaged in trying to increase the rivers ability to produce wild fry. Whilst this might mean that you catch undersized fish, comfort yourself with the knowledge that you have fooled a wild trout, much harder than fooling a stockie! Handle any fish you catch with extreme care and preferably not at all. There are a variety of tools on the market such as the ketchum release, which make releasing a fish without contact very easy indeed.
RAINBOW TROUT You will encounter two species of rainbow trout, the acclimatised native spring spawners which are the progeny of fish first stocked in the Wye during the 19th century, and stocked autumn spawners of the common or garden reservoir rainbow type. There is no evidence that these latter fish breed (indeed some are the sterile triploid type).
If you are unsure about distinguishing between brown and rainbow trout look for a more silver fish with a pinkish stripe down the side you have a rainbow. The absolute unarguable difference is that if your fish has spots on its fins, including the tail, you have a rainbow, no question about it. Brown trout never have spots on the fins.
Rainbows up to about 15″ in length are almost certainly wild fish and we would prefer them to be returned so that they can procreate for future generations of our members to enjoy. Over 15″ the fish is almost certainly a stockie but if it has perfect fins and a deep vermilion stripe down its side then consider giving it the benefit of the doubt. Rainbows that are clearly stockies can be removed as part of your limit, they will probably not hold in our water over winter.
Rainbows generally give a much livelier fight and will jump more than browns. There are certain spots on the river where, for reasons known best to themselves, the wild rainbows prefer to congregate. Not surprisingly Wye Foot is one of these, as is the Pump House pool. You can have the fun of finding out the others for yourself!
GRAYLING We have a healthy stock of grayling throughout the entire fishery. Their size tends to vary cyclically, for reasons we don’t understand, some years they are mostly less than 12″ and some years we get bigger ones. A fish of more than 14″ is good, anything above 15″ is exceptional. They will take both wet and dry fly quite readily and are quite forgiving about missed strikes (provided they haven’t actually been pricked). A trout is much more reluctant to rise a second time if you miss on the strike. The grayling tends to just keep coming until they get the fly. This might be because they rarely lie much above the bottom and have small mouths so they know their aim isn’t very good.
They will take the same flies as the trout but particularly like something with a bit of colour in it, try a “Red tag”, a “Treacle Parkin”, a “Griffiths Gnat”, a “Steel Blue” or that famous Derbyshire standby the Double Badger”. Whilst you can take grayling they should be treated with the same care and respect as trout. Bear in mind they are spawning around the start of the trout season and aren’t at their best either for eating or for fight until Autumn. But also please bear in mind that though you can fish for them outside the trout season there are places where you will also find yourself catching gravid out of season trout. This can’t be helped but please act responsibly and disturb as few spawning fish as possible.