I feel like a fish chaser! (barbel article and video, entry 295)

I feel like a fish chaser!

With the news breaking in the last couple of weeks of a big barbel from the River Severn, I felt like a fish chaser as I loaded the car and headed for that very river. I suppose that there are two ways of looking at the issue. Firstly there are those within the angling world who are quick to throw out snide comments at anyone who fishes anywhere that holds specimen fish. Personally I don’t like the words ‘circus’ that is used to describe anglers who ‘move in’ on big fish waters and ‘rags’ when talking about the angling press. I find both distasteful and not very pleasant.

But secondly there will be those fishermen who by hook or by crook will muscle their way in through the crowds to get to the front of the big fish queue. They will manipulate and deceive and it is definitely a case of fish at all costs. So in balance, there is that aspect as well. Which is pretty much why I keep myself to myself when it comes to angling. I’m not suspicious by nature but I am guarded and switched on, and can read people well as to motive and intent.

 

 

 

Third time lucky on barbel alley

But back to the angling trip I was about to embark on. I was actually fishing the middle Severn, a good twenty miles upstream of where the previously mentioned fish came from. So there was no chance of being labelled a fish chaser really. Not even the most determined of accusers could pin that label on me. Twenty miles of the Severn is like another world, another river.

And for those of us that do fish the lower Severn regularly, even if you set up on the same stretch, the chances of connecting with the fish would be very slim indeed. In fact, connecting with any fish is an achievement on that part of the river. You need a focused dedication to target the lower Severn barbel. It produces a breed of angler that is almost a unique species.

But the middle Severn, where I was on, is also known as barbel alley. That’s due to the numbers of barbel to be caught; but my two previous sessions had only produced a brace of chub, so it wasn’t very prolific as far as I was concerned. But ‘third time lucky’ and all that, because I caught a fish this time round.

 

   

 

My first barbel of the year

Temperature down but the fish took the bait

I nearly didn’t go barbel fishing. The water temperatures the sessions the week before registered highs of 8.8C and 7.4C. So with it now being just 6.1C, that was a big fall in the space of just a few days. With that sort of freefall, you wouldn’t recommend someone to get out the barbel rods.

But I’m glad I didn’t listen to my head and followed my heart instead, because at 5.30pm the right rod (I was fishing two rods) came alive as line peeled from the baitrunner and I was into a fish. It fought really well but with 10lb line and a snag-free swim, the odds were always going to be in my favour.

As you can see from the photograph it was a nice solid fish. I much prefer to catch fish that are packed out rather than skinny, flabby ones. Not just from the fact that they weigh more but also that they look much nicer and are a joy to handle. Although it can be as a result of spawning of course, bony and skinny fish don’t look healthy at all.

 

 

 

 

 

Tip of the week

 

It may be too late of course, it all depends on when you read this.

But with the clock counting down, if you can, make the most of the final hours of the river season.

And if barbel are in your local river then setting your stall out for them is definitely worthwhile.

 

The days are getting longer

I had no more fish and ended my five hour session just before 10.00pm. Three days later I was back on the river and in the same peg as well. I had the whole stretch to myself as it happened, a combination of fishing midweek and the weather taking a slight dip back into winter. But this is where so many anglers get it wrong. It’s not the air temperature that really counts but the water – and trend at that. Although the two generally move in the same direction, they are not joined at the neck.

The water was 6.9C when I arrived, rising to 7C and then dropping back again late afternoon. The days are getting much longer and by the time I packed away pushing 7.00pm, although I needed my headtorch for the finer details, I could manage most stuff with the remaining minutes of the day. People often assume that being out after dark means everything is pitch black, but very rarely is that true.

 

 

The only fish of session two

 

No more barbel but a surprise chub

The session itself, on a rising river, produced just one chub. I didn’t know that I had it on either. I decided to recast so lifted the rod and only then realised that I had a fish. It was either hooked and decided to sulk and lie there rather than race off, or most likely, I moved the rod the split second after it had taken the boilie. Either way it was fairly hooked and so there was no issue at all on that front. It’s nice to get a bite and as it was the only fish of the session, I was happy to settle for the fact that I caught it.

 

Click on the icon for this week’s video clip

 

The week ahead

My river season has now come to an end and I will be doing what I have been for the last five years – beginning a gravel pit campaign. It’s a hard water but with two nights planned, I’m confident of kicking off with at least one good fish. Tench and bream are the target species and they grow big as well, so here’s to a good start!

(Originally published March 2009)

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