A brace of barbel from the Severn (barbel article, entry 214)

I’ve been quite busy work-wise lately, but one thing I always do is ensure that I allocate time to go fishing. Like many people, I could find enough worthwhile activity to fill my working week twice over, but I am always focused on the fact that ‘I work to live, not live to work’. I am very fortunate though in that I really enjoy what I do, which is more of a calling than a job really. I am a minister of a church and also the director of a charity that works in Africa, so both are very fulfilling and rewarding.

 The downside though is that I pretty much give my time freely. Not that I am complaining, as it is my own choice and I’m old enough to know what I am doing. Many years ago, my wife and I made the decision that we wanted to do something with our lives that would really make a difference in the world in which we live. And so that was the path that we began to walk, and I can honestly say that neither of us has a single regret. The benefit as far as my angling is concerned is that I do have a lot more flexibility than the average man.

 So setting off for the River Severn on a midweek afternoon, it was hardly surprising that I had the whole stretch to myself. With no other car on the car park, I had a couple of miles of water to choose from. Some people complain about how busy certain venues are, and that is definitely the case in some places, but if it’s peace and quiet that you want, then there are plenty of options to choose from. The only disturbance I encountered on this session was when a group of about twenty goosanders drifted downstream; and once they realised that I was there, a commotion ensued as they all took off in flight.


The river, although we had experienced some rain over the previous day, was at a normal summer level. The swim I chose was one I had fished before, and where I had actually caught something, which is important when you’re going through a fairly lean period. Not that I am motivated simply by catching fish, but the bottom line is that we do go fishing to catch. And I couldn’t have got off to a better start, as within five minutes, the rod tip pulled round and I was playing a barbel.

 One accusation that you could never level at the barbel is that it doesn’t fight. They will always give of their best and that’s why they need to be rested properly before returning back to the river. You hear criticism of anglers because they return barbel too soon, and you hear others moaning because they weren’t returned quickly enough! My advice is to play on the safe side, and if you need to rest the fish in the folds of the keepnet in the margins, as long as the fish is in water and is upright and comfortable in that respect, then go ahead and let it recover, always keeping an eye on it of course.


The problem with angling – and barbeling has more than its fair share – is that it is full of people who have ulterior motives. Mind you, we are talking about fallen human nature, so it’s not barbel fishing that is the real problem, but issues such as jealousy, resentment, bitterness and so on. And it’s not exclusive to our pastime either. Some time back I lost my pet ferret and so visited a number of ferret forums to post a message. You wouldn’t believe the nastiness that existed on them between people. I don’t know about you, but that sort of stuff turns me off completely.

 I had one more barbel from the Severn, a fish slightly smaller than the previous one, but just as energetic in the fight. By now it was almost dark, something that is happening earlier now that we head towards September. I tend to think of the seasons as quarters of the year, and so with summer beginning in June, that means autumn is almost upon us. Before we know it we will be wrapped up in our winter woollies watching a quiver tip in the dark at 4.00 pm waiting for a chub to put in an appearance. I think that most definitely the older we get, the more life seems to fly by. This is all the more reason for focusing on positives, as opposed to stuff that only drags us down if we take it on board in our lives.

(Originally published August 2007)


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