A flying start…then it’s all downhill fast (zander article and video, entry 272)

Sometimes people say that there are not enough days in the week to do everything, but for me it’s a case of not enough years in my life to accomplish all my angling desires. There is a character in the Bible by the name of Methuselah, who lived to be 969 years old, and many a time I have wished that would be my portion. But it won’t and so I am determined to make the most of the time that I do have on this planet. And this week, that took me to the lower Severn and in particular in pursuit of zander.

Getting my zed-head on

I have already been on the Severn below Worcester this season, as I intended to do some carp fishing. The small resident stock has been abundantly added to by numerous escapees (courtesy of the floods) over the last couple of seasons to the extent where a campaign for the species is now very viable as opposed to the hit and miss approach of the past (on the section I fish that is anyway). But the unpredictable weather meant that I only had one two-night session and that was the end of that.

But now that we are well into autumn, I’m hoping that the weather gods will be much kinder to me and allow me to do some quality predator fishing on the Severn. I guess we have to take it step-by-step and certainly this week it was green light ahead and so I put my zed-head on, loaded the car and headed southbound along the M5. And with a couple of nights free to fish I was hopeful that I would get among the fish. But then again I’m always confident.


Off to a flying start

Off to a flying start

The stretch that I fish allows you to park behind your swim and it’s one luxury that I really do appreciate. And as long as the banks are reasonably dry and firm then it’s a situation that I definitely take advantage of. I was the only other angler on the section and was fishing by 2.00pm. I chose the peg because I have had zander from there previously. Not big fish, but for my first visit there this autumn a confidence boosting fish or three was not going to do any harm at all.

And I didn’t have long to wait before the float started to tremor and shake (I started off by fishing one deadbait straight off the rod rests and bite alarm and the other with a float as an indicator). The result was a small pike and as I reminded myself, at least I wasn’t going to blank. And on any session – never mind the extremely fickle lower Severn – that’s a good start. And a few hours later it was pike number two, again on the float rod. It looked good but even though I am always optimistic, my faith is definitely sprinkled with plenty of realism, and even more so as far as the river below Upton is concerned.

It’s all downhill from there

And my realistic approach proved helpful as the rest of the session was all downhill. Can you believe that I can have two early pike on Wednesday afternoon and then be packing away Friday morning and not add to that tally? That’s fishing for you and that’s most certainly the lower Severn! So much for fishing a banker swim! At least I was dry and warm though in my Trakker Armo bivvy that I had for Christmas last year. Not that it rained, but the autumnal weather meant that there was a wet grass all around when I packed away on Friday.


Tip of the week

Be positive about your angling. A negative attitude won’t get you anywhere.

But also be realistic, otherwise disappointment will set in very quickly.

I fished with a couple of rods, one close to a clump of overhanging willows to the left of where I was fishing, that have been kind to me in the past, and the other a couple of lengths out into open water but at the base of the channel. It was the latter rod that produced the fish. I started off alternating between roach and perch deadbaits but both fish fell to the charms of the roach. Due to the minimal flow of the river I was able to fish a very light lead and lift the bail arm as well and not even get any drag from the current. To give just enough pull for the line into the bite alarm I used Nash Featherlite hangers, without any extra weighting at all. This week’s accompanying video has several shots of the rods in action, so you can see for yourself. Once it started to get dark I fished both rods off the bite alarms and ditched the float as an indicator.


A confession to make

I also spent some trying to catch livebaits, which compared to my usual dismal attempt, was a relative success. Well at least I had a few fish anyway and was able to fish one dead and one live rod the second night. During the process of trying to bag a few tiddlers I caught a ruffe. And my confession is that I really do like the species, so much so that I feel very guilty about even lip-hooking one. Coupled with my decision to turn vegetarian recently, I must be getting soft in my old age! But I’ve got a long way to go before I join the ranks of the animal activists!

However on the way back home, I passed a truck full of sheep that were obviously on their way to slaughter, and I couldn’t look them in the eye as they peered from between the slats on the truck. So maybe one day I may announce that I have now quit angling and have joined the local PETA branch. But somehow I don’t think so, it’s just a personal thing and all about balance for me.



A ruffe caught while after livebait

Some good birding

Whatever the fishing is like on the stretch of the lower Severn I fish, the birding is always very good. On day one I was entertained by five ravens soaring and calling over a wood some distance away from where I was but showing well with the binoculars. The second night I had a noisy tawny owl in the common alder tree right next to me. I strained very gently to see it but to no avail, and then it flew right in front of me giving good a good view in the dark. (If you are a night angler you will know how adjusted we become to even the darkest of nights). Other birds included a sandpiper (not able to id the species), flock of 21 long tailed tits, great crested grebe on the river and a flock of 9 great black-backed gulls in flight. I have added a few photographs to the video clip, which at the very least makes it more interesting.


Click on the icon for this week’s video clip


The week ahead

I’m heading back to the lower Severn but this time I’m going to do an overnighter for barbel. They are proving very elusive fish so far this season for the other anglers on the stretch, but the odd one has started to come out recently, so I’m hoping to net one myself. And with the lower Severn, when the rod lurches over, it could be a 5lb fish or it could be a 15lb monster. That’s what keeps bringing so many barbel anglers back time after time.

(Originally published September 2008)

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