It was another nice day as I set off for the lower Severn. With the river still being low and sluggish it’s not what the barbel anglers want, but I am taking full advantage of the state of the river and doing some predator fishing. With flow being at an absolute minimum I am able to present a deadbait on a very light lead, which of course is great for zander, which are more susceptible to resistance than perhaps other fish are.
We are certainly on a good run of generally dry weather, and although we have had the odd shower or spell of rain, the Severn has been pretty much the same every time I have visited over the last month or so. Looking at it, as it hardly has any flow to it, it seems hard to believe this was the same river that just a few months back had burst its banks and was causing absolute chaos and mayhem all around.
Fishing mid-week, I had the whole stretch to myself. I’m not actually sure of the exact length of the riverbank that is available where I fish, but it’s certainly more than a mile and so there is always somewhere to set up, even if other members are on there. And the great thing about the lower Severn is that it isn’t ‘peggy’ like some smaller rivers are. Yes of course there are hotspots, although I would argue that they are often – but not always – created by the angler.
Catch a good fish and the natural reaction, inspired by confidence, is to return to the same spot. Other anglers see you fishing there regularly and they assume it’s a good peg so they target that swim too. And before you know it, it becomes the place to head for. And as more bait is going in then that will attract and hold fish, so it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy eventually.
Now that the clocks have gone back, we are very soon into afternoon and the sun starts to set and we hit the hours of darkness. Personally I think it’s the angler’s dream, particularly if your chosen species are nocturnal feeders. And with zander at the top of my list at the moment, I’m not complaining. But as dusk drew in, my only concern was that the eels wouldn’t be back in force. And although they were around, they didn’t affect the fishing and so I was able to cast out and leave the bait there knowing it wasn’t being stripped to nothing by an army of bootlaces.
Unfortunately it didn’t interest any zander either. In fact I dozed off quite early and didn’t wake again until the next morning. I have got quite friendly with the local farmer and he usually drops by to see if I have caught anything. As a non-angler he laughs sometimes when I have been out all night and not had a single fish; and he laughs even more when I catch something decent, weigh it, photograph it and then lovingly return it to the water. We must seem like an odd bunch at times. But he still likes me in spite of that and turned up in the morning with a massive bag full of pears he had gathered for me from his orchard.
But would I return from the session with just a bag of fruit and an empty camera? It looked like that, but after fishing with brown trout on both rods, I switched to a roach on the left one. Within thirty minutes I found myself playing and landing a zander. Was it the change of bait that did it? Who knows, as I fished another roach but had nothing else until I packed away, which was into dark. The fish itself was a new personal best, so although it’s nothing to really shout about at the moment, I am increasing all the while.
So just the one zander, but with the bag of pears at least it was a fruitful trip. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that! I am speaking from memory but I think I have broken my personal zander record three or four times so far this season. And with the weather forecast indicating that the rivers look like being in the same condition for a while yet, I am hoping that I can keep adding to the weight of the fish that I catch.
This week’s video clip is ‘Through the keyhole at my River Severn residence’
(Originally published November 2007)