A late barbel saves the day (barbel article and video, entry 319)


A late barbel saves the day


Although I had no prior intention of fishing the lower Severn for barbel this season, with the river up and coloured, I couldn’t resist the urge that came over me! Hence I found myself packing the car and heading off on the south-bound M5 mid-afternoon. Joining the motorway at junction 2 I had hardly got into gear when I hit a traffic tailback. Fortunately it wasn’t at a total halt but was more stop and start, but it did continue right until after junction 5 which is not normally much of a journey, but in conditions like that it becomes a real slog.

But in time, everything cleared and I found myself exiting the rat-race and making my way along quiet Gloucestershire and Worcestershire country roads as I eventually made it to the river. The stretch that I fish allows swim-side parking but with the ground already wet, and the promise of more rain to come, I decided to park on the hard track and walk to the river. I had already thought this through and so was travelling light.

The open space of the lower Severn

The river looked good, but then again all rivers look good to me whether low and clear or in the fields! I dropped into a peg that I have fished before, and one that has produced fish, so I felt my confidence level was justified. Fishing two rods, everything was identical, other than the left rod which was out a little in the flow carried a 6oz lead, whilst the other rod which was fished closer in, had a 3oz lead. My line was 10lb Sufix Synergy to 10lb Drennan carp dacron hook length and Drennan boilie hook (size 4) fishing a hair-rigged boilie.

I baited up with pigeon conditioner seeds, and for those who have no idea of what a baitdropper is, I start this week’s video with a brief demonstration with what I describe as a clanging piece of metal. Once the rods were cast out I just had enough time to get the shelter up as the predicted rain began to fall. And fall it did. Apart from a very brief spell the next morning it rained non-stop and I was absolutely soaked, as my well-used Fox Evolution shelter is well past its sell-by date really and needs replacing.

Barbel alley on the middle Severn

I spotted a few tansy plants along the river bank and managed to get some photographs of them, along with a colony of scentless mayweeds in the field behind me. But then the rain moved into another level of intensity and apart from capturing a brown hare briefly on the camcorder, the rest of the session was spent under canvas. It didn’t stop me from seeing a group of c.9 common sandpipers low in flight over the river as darkness edged in though. As a keen naturalist I am always switched on to the world around me.

As for the fishing though it was a case of a blank. But reeling in during the morning I shouldn’t have been surprised as I didn’t even have any bait on! I recast and had a couple or so more hours, but nothing could be tempted. I knew that I should have left the lower Severn barbel alone, but having said that, all it takes is one fish. And so, instead of returning next time to target zander which was my plan, I could well be embarking on a serious barbel campaign!

It comes good right at the end!

To complete the batch of barbel sessions, I headed for the middle Severn, where I was able to do a handful of evenings at the water’s edge on a river now back to normal summer level. Although it’s known as ‘barbel alley’ they certainly weren’t queuing up to be caught by me, that’s for sure. And from what other angers were saying, that seemed to be the case all round as well. But you can either quit and wait for the fish to come on the feed or you can rise to the challenge.


And what a challenge it was. I really struggled and apart from a very small barbel, as I set up for my final session of the week I was contemplating a river shot for the main article photograph, as opposed to my preferred fish one. But as the clock ticked down, with less than two hours to go, the rod suddenly came to life and I struck into a barbel. It was a relief to land it, as when times are tough it’s better to have no action at all than to get your hopes up and then lose the fish at the net. It was a decent enough fish as well, and so after all the hours and hours of fishing, it finally came good in the end.


(click icon above for this week’s video)


(Originally published August 2009)

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