We recently remembered the 30th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. Although I am a soul man myself, I did grow up listening to the King’s music, as my dad was a fan. So as a tribute to the singer who has had more influence on the world through his music than anyone else, I thought I would weave some of his song titles into this week’s article. So let’s see if it’s easy for you or will it be a case of surrender, as you hoist the white flag?
But don’t give up as there are 17 titles for you to spot. I will be impressed if you get them all. I chose 17 because I always believed that was the number of UK number one’s that Elvis had during his recording days, although an Internet search threw up several conflicting figures. That’s the trouble with the Internet, any Tom, Dick or Harry can post stuff as fact when it may be far from the truth. Don’t believe everything you read – this site excepted of course!
After a lean spell on the barbel front, my first session of the autumn gave me a psychological lift. It may only be a date on a calendar, but September sounds so much more positive than August. And after last week’s blank, I was hoping that this article would contain a little less conversation and a little more action. But as a specimen angler fish-less sessions don’t bother me in the slightest, as they are just part of the furniture; and no matter how lean the spell, there will be something just around the corner. Confidence tells you that it’s just a matter of time before you get amongst the fish again.
My memories as a child of vacation time include the train journey that we took from Chester to Rhyl (we always went to the latter for our holidays), and being a totally land-locked kid, it was really exciting when I got my first glimpse of the sea. And in a similar way, whenever I am setting out on a fishing trip now, I always look forward to the first sighting of the venue, in this case as I crossed the Severn on a bridge. The place where I am fishing is a rural area and there’s something about being wild in the country that really appeals to me. As I write, I have just recently driven through Birmingham, and the thought of living in a city truly fills me with horror. Any place is paradise – just as long as it doesn’t involve concrete and urban living.
The Severn was low and sluggish, and there was a time when I’d have been thinking to myself that all I needed was the rain, but with memories of the floods still on my mind, I am more than happy with the conditions as they were. I was the only angler on the stretch and so was able to choose the swim that I wanted. Not wanting to be beat, and feeling that it still had something to offer, I headed for the peg where I have blanked for barbel twice on the trot. I suppose you could say that I am a sucker for punishment, but on the other hand it could be interpreted as the action of a man not desiring to give in to defeat.
Fishing two rods, they were pretty much identical apart from boilie on the right-hand rod and pellet on the left. Tackle-wise I was using 10lb Sufix Synergy to 10lb Drennan carp Dacron and size 4 Drennan boilie hooks, with both baits being hair rigged. Casting out, I said my evening prayer, and settled back. What a wonderful life it is, being an angler; one night on the river is worth a dozen in a shopping mall. It really is a tender feeling just being there, something that only the angler will fully appreciate, as to the rest of the population they don’t see the attraction. As darkness started to descend, a little owl landed in a tree that was just metres away from where I sat, and with it being on a bare branch, silhouetted against the sky, I had an excellent view as it called.
I had to wait a little longer for some fishy action though, but as the clock pushed on towards midnight I had a barbel on the boilie rod. As my lean spell was drawing to an end, the last thing I wanted to do was to lose the fish, so knowing that there were no snags present, it was a case of gently, gently. And with great delight I lifted the net from the water with the fish enveloped in its folds. A couple of photographs later and the fish lazily swam across the shallows and then out of sight into the deeps. I washed my hands in muddy water and retired to the bank above.
Apart from a shoal of bream moving in during the early hours, the rest of the night was quiet, and as dawn broke I was greeted by some early morning rain – the first I can recall on a fishing trip in ages. But even that faded when it came to packing away time. That’s the worst part of angling for me, but I always know that the next session is just around the corner, so it was hardly heartbreak hotel time as I drove back home on the northbound M5.
(Originally published September 2007)