Enjoying myself on the lower Severn
One of the points I continually make about fishing is that it has to be enjoyable. And I make no apologies for reinforcing that on a regular basis, because it’s not uncommon to hear anglers confess how their fishing has become a bind and the pleasure factor has long since departed. What we need to do is stay alert and when we find that we’re beginning to go through the motions, then act accordingly. Maybe we do need a break, or perhaps a switch to other species is on the cards. Or even something totally different altogether. I am sure that, listening to some die-hard focused specimen anglers, that an afternoon on the canal with a pint of maggots after gudgeon wouldn’t do them any harm at all!
For me personally it’s the fact that I am an all-rounder that keeps my enthusiasm bubbling away. Not that I get bored fishing for one fish, in one style and on one venue, but the appreciation of the bigger picture definitely keeps my motivation level high. At the moment though, dead-baiting for zander on the lower Severn is certainly taking up a lot of my angling time. For the majority of anglers we don’t have quality zander fishing on our doorstep. And that applies to me as well, and even though the M5 makes access easy, a zander session still involves a round trip of about 100 miles. That’s why I try to spend as much time on the bank as possible, it’s not cost effective to travel that distance for a couple of hours.
Caught at first light on session one
So far this autumn my sessions have been two-nighters, but my first trip in this article saw me on the bank for just an overnighter. It also saw me fishing under a Trakker oval brolly for the first time. My Fox Evolution shelter has been such an excellent purchase but it has seen better days, so this week I decided to invest in a new temporary home, and settled on the Trakker. With so many options around it is a task in itself doing all the research and working through the pros and cons. First impressions were good but with a dry night I need to give it a few months before I can make any proper comment. I did think that the brolly mechanism could be a weak link but I hope that won’t be so. One thing is for sure, I do put my tackle through its paces.
Fishing a couple of rods I did have lots of enquiries, but if ever a fish could be classed as one that plays hard to get, then the zander must be amongst the top nominations. And with nothing caught during the night, many anglers would be thinking ‘blank’. But one thing I hold to is that as long as your bait is in the water there’s a chance of a fish. And so at 7.45 am, as I was starting to think about making my way home, I had a run that resulted in the fish pictured above. The night was still full of action though, courtesy of a very vocal barn owl in the immediate area. And packing away in the morning I noticed four swallows high in the sky. The swifts have long gone and it’s been ages since I last saw a martin of either persuasion. But to indicate how summer was stubbornly holding on, I also spotted a single small white butterfly in flight along the river bank.
Looking very autumnal now
My second and final session of the article was again an overnighter on the lower Severn after zander. Pretty much Groundhog Day, except for the weather, as the dry spell had finally come to an end. The rain hadn’t affected the river much though; apart from a change in colour and being a fraction up, the flow was pretty much as before. It meant that I was still able to present my small coarse deadbaits with a 1.5 ounce lead, thus keeping resistance to a minimum. With Nash Featherlite hangers devoid of lead weights and the bale arms open on the reels, I was fishing as light as possible. On one rod I had a gudgeon and on the other a small roach, with both baits just a couple of lengths from the bank in twenty feet of water.
I had a few knocks on the gudgeon within an hour of fishing. As a large boat went past I started to get movement on the rod top, and initially thought it was the wash from the boat. But I soon realised it was a fish. However, nothing developed. But this happened a total of three times in a short period of time, with re-casts in between. Whatever it was didn’t intend getting caught, but wanted to let me know it was there. I thought pike initially but later I did wonder if it had been a perch. The bottom line though was that I wasn’t totally sure, and as the fish didn’t oblige then I will never know! I thought I was in for a good session, but unfortunately it was all downhill from there. And when I packed away the next morning, I registered my first zander blank of the autumn.
The flood plain shrouded in mist
It had been a very quiet night; the river was dead. Nothing topped or broke the surface at all. Even at dusk the small fish were noticeable by their absence. It was all very still. And this side of the water nothing stirred either. Owls are prolific in the area and as well as tawny owls that constantly call in the wider neighbourhood, the immediate trees to the swim are visited by noisy little owls and barn owls. Yet, just like the fish, they too were nowhere to be seen or heard. In fact at 3.00am as I looked out over the mist that had descended during the night I half-expected a coach and horses to come racing along the flood plain, taking me back to the old black and white Dracula movies I watched as a kid.
The days are still quite nice but the rest of the twenty-four period is looking and feeling very autumnal. Although most of the mist had disappeared by the time I could get a photograph, the usual visibility range was seriously decreased. And with dew covering the grass and bank-side vegetation, it certainly felt like it was October. But as a keen angler I don’t let the weather affect me; all I do is adjust accordingly whether the way I dress or the species I fish for. And I’m certainly enjoying myself on the lower Severn at the moment!
(click icon above for this week’s video)
(Originally published October 2009)