It’s a washout! (barbel article, entry 210)

I don’t know if you are like me, but sometimes there is a swim that you feel you just have to try. It’s not that it exactly eats away at you, but every now and then you find yourself thinking about it, and there just seems to be ‘something’ about it that you can’t quite put your finger on, hence you keep getting drawn towards it. There was one such place on the River Severn, which this week I decided to tackle (no pun intended).

 On the face of it there is nothing particularly unusual about the swim – it’s on a wide bend, willows along the near bank and it’s deep and slow. Could be anywhere on the River Severn, but to me I just had to do a session on there, even if only to eliminate my curiosity. Arriving midweek, I had the whole river to myself as far as the eye could see. It was a beautiful summer’s evening and I thought to myself that the seasonal weather has won over at last. Little did I realise what was to come later in the week.

 Casting out my hair rigged boilie, I put the rod in the rest and settled back. Leading up to dark there was plenty of bird action – a couple of sparrowhawks hunting along the river bank, goosander high in flight overhead, a single calling oystercatcher in flight and right on dark a common sandpiper landed at the water’s edge opposite. Although I never detract from the actual reason why I am out at the water’s edge, I still fully appreciate the wider nature package that goes with it. And birds are definitely at the top of the list of what I enjoy seeing.


Feeling at total peace with the world, that sense of contentment was soon broken when I saw a white van pull up along the far bank and a number of people get out with fishing gear. Although the entire river was free, I just knew that they were going to set up opposite – there must be some sort of law that explains that. My fears were confirmed, and so for the next few hours I was entertained by what today is referred to as anti-social behaviour. But I focused on my own world and didn’t let it disturb me. In fact nothing disturbed me, as I drew a blank. Well at least I had given the swim a go.

 At the end of the week as I planned my second trip, we saw another deluge of rain hit the area. So packing my barbel gear once more I set off for the River Severn. But for the second time this season, I was forced to retreat back home without even wetting a line. In this instance I was heading for a swim that I knew would just about be fishable – both in terms of access and actual angling. But as I was almost there I found that the road was blocked. A brook – and a small one at that – had burst its banks and the result was a raging torrent that meant I was unable to pass.

 I had no option other than to turn round and head for home. Yes, it was frustrating, but as I watched the news on TV, it became clear that an abandoned angling trip was nothing compared to the misery of the people who had lost homes, cars and other possessions because of the excessive rain that had fallen. It’s hard to comprehend the amount of water that is everywhere. One of my favourite angling venues – Tewkesbury – is like an island, and it may well be a few days before it opens up to the outside world once more. And with more rainfall predicted I am considering switching species and venue for a while!

(Originally published July 2007)


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