Another carp from the lower Severn (barbel article, entry 219

With a busy week ahead, I managed just the one session. It was an overnighter though, so as far as the lower Severn is concerned, that’s just about the minimum that I would be happy with in terms of angling opportunity. Whilst angling skill is a very important factor, the further down the Severn you get, time available plays an ever increasing role as far as success is concerned.

 You can be fishing a perfect river and not get a touch. Of course the reverse is also true – you can come up trumps on a poor looking river. However, experience has shown me that it’s more likely to be the former than the latter that you end up with. If you want to do well on the lower reaches of the Severn, what you really need is plenty of time, not to mention patience and realistic expectations.

 Setting up in the mid-afternoon September sun, I couldn’t remember the last time we had some rain, decent rain that is, as opposed to a few spots here and there. And the river reflected that fact, as it was nothing more than a glorified canal. You would probably hold bottom with a swan shot, with the word ‘sluggish’ surely invented to describe the lower Severn in that condition, as it almost begrudgingly flowed towards its union with the sea in the Bristol Channel.

 Fishing two rods, I was all set up and ready for the evening onwards with plenty of time to spare. The first highlight though wasn’t to do with screaming reels or bent rods, but rather a bird. And to be more precise, a hobby that flew across the river right in front of my shelter. It turned beyond the far bank and gave the classic ‘large swift’ pose that is often used to describe the bird. Combined with the male redstart that I saw later on, not to mention the calling tawny owl and little owl that I had in the area behind me as darkness drew in, it was an eventful trip as far as birding was concerned.


But I was there to fish, and any birds that may turn up are a bonus. Although the onset of evening made me confident, it was not until the early hours that I actually had a fish on. I didn’t get to see it, but it was another carp, and one that I lost as it headed straight into a snag. Would I get another bite at the cherry, I wondered to myself as I set up again and cast out once more. The answer to that was a resounding ‘yes’ as I struck into a fish at 3.45 am. In the summer it would have been light at this time, but into September it is still classed as ‘night’.

 I managed to land this fish, and it was yet another carp, but just a small one as the photograph shows. It’s impossible to say how many are now in the river, but there must be a large number of them that have moved home, courtesy of the summer floods. I think the barbel purists will not be too pleased, although the good news is that they may bully the bream out of the swim. And apart from the absolute diehard, I am sure that most barbel anglers wouldn’t mind doing the odd battle with a monster carp or two. It will certainly help to break up the long periods of waiting on the lower Severn.


This fish proved to be the only one of the session, so I certainly appreciated it. Although I was out to catch a barbel, you won’t hear me complain when a carp pops up instead, and particularly so when it’s either that or a blank. We’re still not at the time of the year where you can expect to catch barbel during the day, so once daylight had properly arrived, I packed away and returned home.

 It had been a mild night, so much so that even in shorts I was comfortable; and once the sun rose, I was back to short sleeves as well. Some people feel the cold more than others, and I’m fortunate in that I can cope with cooler weather better than many others. Which is just as good considering I night fish right through the year.

(Originally published September 2007)


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