A bend in my rod and a smile on my face (pike article, entry 118)

After kicking off my pike campaign last week, it was a case of more of the same. And with the rivers in good condition as far as pike are concerned, it was to the lower Severn that I headed to see if I could do battle with a fish or two. One of my favourite types of angling is floodwater barbel fishing, and there’s nothing more I like than when the Severn is carrying three metres or so of extra water and is right up to the rim.

But it’s been a long time since it was like that, and all my recent trips have involved fishing a low river, which is ideal for pike rather than when the water is racing through. Of course though, when you talk about the lower Severn being low, you still have ten feet or more of water in your swim! But the more sluggish nature means that you can present a deadbait using a float as an indicator, which is a great way of fishing for the species.

The lower Severn, when it has a tree-lined section, invariably finds itself bordered with willows. And of course at this time of the year, they are now turning yellow and starting to fall. We’re well into autumn and winter is just around the corner. There are still some summer birds around though, albeit ones migrating. As I arrived at the river I saw a group of swallows, followed later by some house martins – all feeding on the wing, but moving in a definite southerly direction.

One of the problems with fishing for different species is that you need to make sure that you don’t leave items of tackle at home. If you are a single species angler, that’s not something you have to worry about, as your tackle can be left as it is from one session to the next. But if you change, as I do, from say roach to pike, you need to be on the ball so that you don’t leave essential items behind.

Although not many of us are able to multiply our tackle so that we have complete items for each species, I do try to compromise a little. Although things such as rucksack, scales, rod rests etc will have to be moved, I do keep an exclusive tackle box for whatever I am fishing for at that time. As you can see from the accompanying photograph, my pike box contains a wide range of bits and pieces, including everything that I need to make rigs.

Although I carry a number of made up rigs, it’s always good to have back up, just in case you have so much action that you need to need to make a few more! Well, I can always live in hope can’t I! But I do change my rigs regularly, particularly if the wire trace starts to develop a kink or two, which it does after a while. I like to picture the trace lying on the bed rather than coiled above it.

My intention on this session was to rove the stretch, dropping into as many swims as I could during the course of the day. With no other cars on the car park, I knew I had the place to myself and so could stick to my plan. Moving along the river though, I did encounter a couple of anglers who were locals, hence no cars on the car park. Whilst appearances can be deceptive, I had a pretty good idea looking at them that they weren’t club members (and probably no EA licence either!).

When I challenged them, my suspicions were confirmed. Hopefully they won’t come back now. But I don’t see why I should pay good money (a number of my angling subscriptions are over £100) to join a club whilst others think they can fish for free. I have no qualms about challenging people, my only reservations concern my car and what might be done to that. However on this occasion they did respond well and my approach was friendly enough. However, I did say they could stay for the rest of the afternoon (in their defence there are no signs on the water, although I pointed out that all fishing rights belong to someone) but shouldn’t return. I felt that in the circumstances, that was a reasonable compromise.

I thoroughly enjoyed the session and ended with two runs and two fish. Both were taken on roach, whilst the sprat rod remained motionless. Not that you can necessarily read anything into that of course – on another identical day it could well be the total opposite. And to me, that unpredictability is the great thing about angling.

The fish were in great condition and fought well. I definitely ended up with a bend in my rod and a smile on my face. However, my next session wasn’t a repeat order! Still on the River Severn, I headed in the opposite direction, up towards Shrewsbury. The river looked great and I was very confident of at least one fish. But it wasn’t to be. I fished some cracking swims, that had ‘pike’ all over them, but I didn’t have so much as even an enquiry.

Plus the heavens opened at regular intervals, always when I seemed to be moving from one swim to another! After a while I was so wet that I didn’t bother even putting the umbrella up, I just carried on fishing in the rain! It was nice to get back to the car though and drive with the heater on full. But it was even nicer to arrive home and take a hot shower. Still, even driving home soaking wet, all I could think about was planning my next session. As anglers maybe we really are mad. Well I must be anyway!

(Originally published October 2005)

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