With barbel being my current target fish I again decided to visit the River Teme in pursuit of the species. And once more, for the first session of the week, I returned to the new area that I fished previously. Although it is a very natural stretch i.e. steep banks and totally overgrown vegetation, at least I have three swims that I can now access.
As before, I baited up each of the swims before getting the rod set up to actually begin fishing itself. I had prepared a mix of seeds, pellets and chunks of flavoured meat using brown crumb as a carrier so that I could accurately place the bait in the precise areas I wanted it to be. The field I fished in is totally out of the way, in two visits I have yet to see another human soul. And to be honest, I prefer it that way; I love those ‘wild and off the beaten track’ sort of places that you have all to yourself.
Tackle wise I used a simple running leger rig with a ¾ ounce bomb being more than sufficient to hold bottom. Although we haven’t had much rain lately, the Teme itself did have a nice colour to it. When it does rain, the river is just like the colour of hot chocolate with a tinge of orange, due to the nature of the earth that it flows through. It’s the same with the numerous pools in the Teme catchment as they also turn in colour when we have heavy rain.
Fishing a small piece of peperami I was quite confident that I would get amongst the fish, and with the day itself being quite overcast I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to wait until dark. That’s the problem at this time of the year – the days are so long. Still, we have now passed the longest day and it’s all downhill from here on. I like the end of the summer when it’s still warm yet it gets dark quite early. That’s the problem for us as anglers – we’re always wishing the days away for something else to come round!
Casting out into the Teme, I did indeed have to wait until dark before getting the one and only bite of the session. I have already ascertained that the stretch is snag free apart from overhanging willows, and so as long as I can keep fish away from those, there is nowhere else for them to go. Fishing with 10lb line as I do, the odds are always going to be in my favour.
The fish itself wasn’t a large one, I would say about 4-5lb, as I didn’t weigh it. But it was the difference between a blank and a result, so it was certainly very welcome. I fished until midnight, which with the long journey back to the car plus the drive meant that I hit the pillow with the clock pushing 2.00 am. The next day was hard – I was struggling to keep my eyes open at work. Oh the joys of being a passionate angler!
For the second session of the week I returned to the same general area but a different stretch. I thought the first one was a little overgrown but this one was the mother of all jungles. The combination of very steep banks and vegetation that looks like it has never seen human intervention, looked like I had a real battle on my hands just to make it to the river’s edge. But I hadn’t gone all that way to admire the scenery. And so after being stung by nettles countless times, almost slipping into the river twice and being engulfed by Himalayan Balsam, which is imposing itself more and more upon the river – I finally had three swims that I could fish from.
Rotating between them, I connected with my first daylight barbel of the season. However, it was only on for a few seconds (hook pull) so it is impossible to guess the weight of the fish. In the initial take, a fish can be anywhere between five and fifteen pounds. It’s only when you start to play the fish that you begin to get an idea of what you are doing battle with.
As the evening wore on and with darkness well set in, I was beginning to wonder if I would get another bite of the cherry. I needn’t have worried though, as the bottom swim of the three provided me with a good fish. It fought well (don’t all Teme barbel!) but it was only when I saw the fish prior to netting that I had thoughts of my first double of the season.
Lifting it from the water I was convinced it was a 10lb fish, maybe a ‘scraper’ but nevertheless a double. So much so that I weighed the fish three times when it fell short of the magical mark! It shows how people who never weigh fish properly get carried away. I’m very level headed and have weighed hundreds of fish, yet even I thought I had connected with a double.
The journey back to the car was long and hard going. I was grateful indeed that I was travelling light. Driving home I was tailed by a police car for a couple of miles before they finally did a u-turn and left me alone. Still, I had nothing to worry about as my car is taxed, insured and has a current MOT certificate. And I don’t even drink alcohol so I have no concerns about the breathalyser either! The only thing I have on my mind when I drive back home is where I am going fishing next!
(Originally published July 2006)