The Wye historically has been England's greatest salmon river. However stocks have declined massively as a result of drift nets at sea, estuarine putchers, and continuous removal of stocks caught on rod and line. In the early sixties a few hundred barbel were released in the River Lugg. These found their way into the Wye and quickly established themselves from Hay on Wye down to Brockwier. Today The Wye holds a remarkable population of very long large finned lanky and hard fighting barbel.
The barbel year starts in June but recently some good barbel rivers have declined as a result of otter and mink predation, fish eaten by migrant populations and fish being washed out of or back to main river during flooding. There are also those who blame the barbel for the decline in salmon.
Richard Uridge goes in search of this hardy fish, asks whether the salmon will ever return and along the way finds some of the most idyllic spots the River Wye has to offer.