I find that I always fish better when I am totally focused. Whether it’s the issue of the male gender and multi-tasking, or my own character, or perhaps even a bit of both I don’t know for sure, but either way I find that switching from species to species each week very difficult to get a momentum going. That is in no small way due to the fact that I am a specimen angler, always targeting the larger fish that might inhabit the venue I am fishing. One thing about that sort of angling is that you have to view it as a marathon not a sprint.
Yes, you may get ‘lucky’ and catch a big fish within five minutes of casting out, but the general pattern is that if you want to be successful in catching something above average, you have to have oodles of patience, determination and time. And if the thought of lots of blanks puts you off, then maybe you should stick to pole fishing on the canal. (And that’s not being critical of that style of fishing by the way, simply highlighting a point. The great thing about angling is that you can make it what you want it to be). One thing is for sure, every photograph of an angler posing with a big fish carries lots of hard work and time behind it.
Arriving at the lower Severn, although there had been a minimal amount of rain over the previous day or so, the river itself was unaffected. It was still low and sluggish, ideal for presenting a deadbait on a light leger for zander. I headed for the peg that I had occupied on my previous visit, one incidentally that due to the protruding willows upstream, will be a good one when the river is rising. From the layout of the swim I can see that it’s one whereby even though there is six feet of raging water on the river, I will still be able to hold bottom with a half ounce lead.
But for now I am happy having not to worry about rising rivers. With another bright and sunny day, I left the shelter till last and cast the rods out first. My priority was to catch some livebaits for when darkness fell. However, a 5oz perch and a number of eels meant that once more, as darkness fell I was struggling with just dead rudd, which I brought with me from my bait freezer at home. The deadbaits during the day remained untouched, and even for the first hour of dark the eels were noticeable by their absence.
But then they moved in, and whilst the activity wasn’t as intense as in previous sessions, it was enough to disrupt the fishing as what I really wanted to do was to cast out and sit back, only to be disturbed when I had a fish. Having to recast every few minutes wasn’t what I had in mind, particularly as my stock of frozen fish was slowly being eroded. Eventually I gave up and fished just the perch livebait. The rest of the night was very quiet, other than the calls of the little owls that were close by and the solitary barn owl that also screeched from time to time.
I was greeted in the morning by fog that had descended during the early hours. Around midnight, the skies were clear and certain items of tackle had a light coating of frost on them. But all that changed as a damp mist took over. It was so wet that the long grass I was pitched up in looked as if someone had put a hose pipe over it. My shelter was wet, my sleeping bag was damp and lying there on the bedchair I realised why people suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
But around mid-morning, the sun broke through and the mist and damp were defeated by its powerful rays. The eels gone, I switched back to deadbaits. I had enquiries at one stage which never developed, but just after noon, something more definite took the bait. It was difficult to tell from the fight whether I was doing battle with a pike or a zander, it was only as the fish broke surface that I saw it was the former. It looked in great condition, which is hardly surprising as the stretch gets zero pressure. The majority of fishing done on there –and even that is minimal – is for barbel.
Placing the fish on the unhooking mat, it was only hooked by the top treble hook, and even then just inside the mouth, so it was a very simple procedure indeed to free it. It was a nice fish, as the photographs indicate. It also proved to be the one and only predator of the session, which just goes to show how thin the line can be between success and failure as far as specimen angling is concerned. Just one fish can make the difference between driving home contented, with the damp just a distant memory, or travelling back with all your focus on being wet to the bone. I’ve done enough of the latter, so for once I was more than happy to be doing the former.
***This week’s video clip is titled 003. The Lower Severn
(Originally published October 2007)