It was great to be back on the Teme (barbel article, entry 263)

One of the promises I made to myself at the start of the year was that I would become more flexible in my angling. Administration is one of my giftings and so naturally that will affect my fishing, with the result that I take a very methodical and thinking approach to do the best that I can, which of course is a good thing. But the flip side is that I also have a tendency to be too regimented and this has manifested itself in a lack of flexibility. I have been guilty of flogging the proverbial Black Country dead ‘oss when in fact I ought to have switched species or venue instead of sticking to something just because I told myself I should.

So last week’s excursion into the world of the crucian carp was something I wouldn’t have done before. Well not unless it meant I would also spend the next two months for them as well! But now I have been set free from the curse of rigidity, I fancied a return to the Teme, and so that’s where I went. The days are now noticeably shorter, but not at the stage yet where you have to be in place on the banks of the river by late afternoon to ensure that you set up in daylight. So even with leaving home at 6.30pm I was still giving myself plenty of time.

 

The river looked perfect

One of the reasons for wanting to get back on the Teme was that we had some decent rainfall during the week I was after crucian carp. The result was that the rivers received some much needed water and would be freshened up. My first glimpse of the Teme confirmed this. The river had a little colour to it and a slight rise but wasn’t racing away like an express train. In fact it looked perfect!

Yet I still had the whole stretch to myself. Of course I do have the advantage over most anglers in that I can fish midweek, but nevertheless I do find so many times that I have the pick of swims. For sure there are certain stretches on most rivers that are busy – some excessively so – but if you want peace and quiet, it’s not hard to find.

And whilst the busy venues are so for a good reason, don’t be fooled into thinking that if you fish elsewhere then the fish are inferior. There is some great fun to be had exploring. And with many miles of our rivers not seeing an angler from one season to the next, you never know what you will come across.

 

It was great to be back on the Teme

 

The importance of safety

I was able to head for the swim of choice, which is always nice of course. But I’m not discouraged if it is taken as sometimes the enforced revision of plans can open up a whole new world. Like most anglers I tend to work out in advance where I will be fishing and of course it is human nature to head for the swim where you have caught before. The danger in this though is that you can visit a whole section for years and yet never fish more than one swim. I’ve been there and done that and know how limiting it can be. These days I am much more likely to, at the very least, walk the stretch and make notes before deciding where to fish. And even if I do sit in a swim regular it won’t be exclusive. And I will be at least aware of what is going on elsewhere.

This particular stretch of the Teme is typical of many on the river. The banks are both steep and overgrown and so particularly when fishing through the night, as I was intending to do, safety is a big issue. In fact it is ‘The’ issue really. From the feedback that I get from writing each week, I am aware that many beginners read my Angling Journal and I am conscious of the need for responsibility in terms of highlighting safety. It’s easy to get carried away and simply focus on the fish rather than the balance of the big picture. So although I may constantly bang the drum of responsible and safe angling, I make no apologies for that.

 

Fishing on a budget

Although I do fish two rods on some river venues, on the Teme it is invariably one, particularly when the swims are tight. And the rod I took with me was a Wychwood barbel 1.5lb test curve. It is a budget rod – I paid £29.99 on ebay a couple or so years back – but it has been a faithful servant and has not let me down. I have had barbel to over 12lb with it and at no time have I ever felt that it was under any strain at all. The key to any item of tackle is, ‘Would you buy another?’, and in the case of this rod I would have no hesitations whatsoever in doing so.

 

Tip of the week

You don’t have to break the bank or take out a second mortgage to get hold of decent fishing tackle. There are some good items out there at reasonable prices.

My reel was a Daiwa Regal X 4050 and was another budget buy. I bought four of them a number of years ago and they have certainly been through their paces having been responsible for most of my big fish catches. Out of the original four, three are still going strong, with the fourth only finally giving up the ghost last year. You can still get hold of them and a quick internet search revealed that they aren’t much more than the £30 or so that I paid for mine. I’m not a cheapskate – far from it – but like many other anglers I do have to live within my means. And whilst I certainly wouldn’t go for the cheapest item simply because of price, there are some good items to be picked up without breaking the bank.

 

Just about to weigh the fish when..

Casting out, it wasn’t long before the rod was alive and I was striking into a fish. I knew straight away that it was a chub, and although it was short of 2lb it certainly put up a great fight. Although more anglers fish the Teme for barbel than chub, they are definitely a species worth targeting, particularly during the cold spells in winter. Within a quarter of an hour I thought that I was into my first barbel but again it was a chub, this time much bigger. Eventually though, well into dusk, I did catch the first barbel of the session, a fish that gave totally of itself. You can understand why some anglers think they have lost the fish of a lifetime as they really do fight above their weight.

I ended the session with four chub and three barbel and apart from the opening chub the other fish were all decent ones. Funnily enough there was a recent comment in my guestbook about publishing the weight of fish and my answer was that unless I think the barbel is going to be a double I don’t weigh it. Well the second barbel I caught deserved weighing and I thought about the guestbook correspondence. I took a couple of photographs and then just as I was about to weigh the fish, it had a sudden burst of energy, flipped out of my hands and was in the water before I even realised what was going on!

 

 

I never got to weigh it!

A mandarin duck with juveniles

Just as darkness was drawing in there was an almighty commotion from just upstream followed by a female mandarin duck and four juveniles making their way down river pretty sharply. As I knew that there wasn’t another angler on the stretch I wondered what it was that caused them to make such a hasty retreat from where they were probably settling down for the night. Straining to look beyond the bend I saw a mink swimming across the river to the far bank. They are common on the Teme and are such efficient hunters that I am surprised that any water birds exist at all in the areas where they are found. The birds settled downstream and the next I saw of them was the next morning when they once more passed me, but this time at a more leisurely pace. They were quite wary though and hugged the far bank as they moved against the flow of the river.

(Originally published July 2008)

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