If you read my Angling Journal regularly, you will know that I do incorporate a lot of weather references in my weekly articles. And I make no apologies for that, particularly as there are lots of newcomers to angling that read the site every week. Certainly at this time of the year, it is imperative to be ‘on the ball’ as far as the conditions are concerned. That way we can plan our sessions, and the species we target, much more efficiently.
Regarding water temperature, the key thing is not so much the actual reading, but rather the trend. For example, consider the following two scenarios: situation one, the temperature is eight degrees, but has dropped from a week-long consistency of eleven. In situation two, the reading is seven, but has risen from a spell where it was just four degrees. Although, the temperature is one degree less, without a doubt, situation two is the best time to get out fishing, because the trend is upward.
Hence, as I followed the water temperatures of the River Severn, I was encouraged to see a gradual rise over a period of a few days. Not much of an increase I admit, but a degree or so taking it up to seven was enough to prompt me into targeting barbel for the second time this year. As my previous session was also in pursuit of barbus barbus, it was fairly easy to get my tackle together, as the bag was already loaded with the right gear. I don’t know if you are like me, but switching from one species to another, from time to time I forget to include certain items when I change over!
Arriving on the banks of the Severn I was encouraged by the conditions. There was about a metre of extra water on, but the river itself was dropping slowly. However, very rarely do you get perfection, and the downside of the conditions was the wind. Well, perhaps I should say ‘gales’, because that’s what they were.
With forecasts of gusts up to 90 mph predicted in the country, I had come prepared to battle with the elements. Although it was bad, the South Worcestershire area certainly didn’t take the brunt of the storms, hence why I had decided to fish in the first place – there are times when the issue of safety means that it is advisable to stay at home.
I was fishing with my usual barbel bait – my home-made boilie, soaked in an appropriate flavoured dip. I do get lots of e-mails asking for the recipe for my baits, which is understandable, as they have proved to be very successful! And whilst I am fairly open, as you will deduct if you read my Angling Journal regularly, there are some cards I do play close to my chest, with my boilie recipe being one of them!
Casting out both rods, I was fishing just after noon. Although a fish can come out at any time of the day or night on the Lower Severn from autumn onwards, I had to wait until dusk to get my first bite. The left rod pulled round and I found myself playing my third barbel of the New Year. It was a good fight, but with my knowledge of the swim I knew that there were no snags present, hence the odds were always in my favour.
I always carry a set of forceps in my pocket and so was able to extract the hook at the water’s edge. This means I can rest the fish in the net whilst I set the camera up ready for a photograph. After a few teething problems with my new camera, I have now got it sorted, as you can tell from the photographs that have appeared in the last few articles. One of the advantages of modern digital cameras is that they are so quick. My first camera, although a top-of-the-range one in its day, is now sadly a relic! How fast technology moves on.
The winner of course, is the fish. It is possible to get a few pictures in literally seconds; particularly if you are used to taking shots and you know where to position yourself. Hence I was able to get a couple of photographs and release the fish back into the water in hardly any time at all. And of course, another great advantage of modern cameras is that you can view the photographs taken immediately you have clicked the button.
With no give in the wind, I settled down to continue fishing into darkness, grateful that at least it wasn’t raining. Which was just as good really, as the force of the wind would have made it impossible to put up the umbrella anyway! Listening to the radio, I was aware that in reality, we were not getting the full force of the gales that were hitting the country. Still, it was bad enough, but just about bearable.
A couple of hours into darkness I connected with the second barbel of the session, this time on the right rod, which was fished about a third of the way across the river. I didn’t weigh the fish, but it was still a nice fish, very fat! All four of the barbel caught this year have obviously been feasting themselves. It is at least encouraging to know that I am not the only one who has been putting weight on over Christmas and the New Year!
Even the chub I caught to round off the session had what you could describe as a ‘beer belly’. Still, with a few more trips planned over the next few weeks for the Lower Severn barbel I am not complaining about the weight increases. And whilst I will be in diet-mode, I am hoping that the fish have no desire whatsoever to shed their excess pounds!
(Originally published January 2005)