Memories are made of this (barbel article and video, entry 261)

Considering that I don’t live that far from the Teme, it’s one river that I don’t fish very often. In recent years I’ve gone several seasons without a visit but it hasn’t always been that way. When I passed my test as a young man, coming from a non-car owning and non-fishing family, my first vehicle opened up a whole new world for me. I can remember it now, an M-reg orange Morris Marina Coupe. OK, it doesn’t sound like a trend-setter but I wasn’t bothered about that. Even as a seventeen year old I had no interest in cars other than they were useful in getting me from A-Z, or to be more precise, out to new fishing venues.

The place that was top of my list, and somewhere I had been dreaming about visiting for some years, was the River Teme. As a youngster I had match fished with a local club and had been on the river before and it was those isolated trips that had stoked the fire of enthusiasm to return. Those were the days when you went on a coach and had a great day out. The one Teme memory that sticks with me though was losing a barbel at the net on the Peacock water near Tenbury Wells – a fish that would easily have won me the contest.

Welcome to the modern world

So once I got my car, I spent many an hour on the banks of the river. But somehow over the years, apart from the odd spell here and there, I never really captured the burning desire to get back. Until now that is, hence the memories started to flood back. Without doubt, the older you get the more nostalgic you become. When you’re young you don’t have great memories as such anyway due to your short time on the earth, but as the years roll by, you build up a definite ‘Greatest hits’ of good times.

But although I enjoy looking back, I live very much in the present. And I wasn’t there to simply feed my mind on the past. And as if to bring me back to reality, the moment I arrived at the small lay-by car park I was very much in the twenty-first century. With comfortable space for two cars, the person who had arrived before me parked right in the middle, meaning that no other vehicle could get in. ‘Welcome to the modern world’ I reminded myself as I had to find an alternative place to park!

 

The Teme in the summer

Decided to stay the night

The stretch that I was fishing is what you would describe as ‘natural’ and ‘wild’. And apart from the first peg or two closest to where the cars park, it isn’t fished at all. In fact I had quite a walk along the riverbank just to find somewhere where I could hack a path through the undergrowth with safe access to the river. But eventually I was able to drop my gear and begin to set up for the session ahead. The swim in front of me was a long deep glide and I baited up with seeds before then turning my back on the river and getting everything else in place.

Casting out, it was already late evening, and really enjoying the prospect of being on the Teme again, instead of my original fish-till-1am plan, I decided to stay right through till dawn. After all, the nights are so short anyway, another couple of hours and I would be fishing more prime-time as the fish feed well at first light. The dawn chorus was started at 3.46 am by a song thrush! The two fish of the session though came earlier than that though, and the anticipation of a dawn barbel didn’t materialise.

I had opened my account on the river before darkness proper had set in, with a nice chub. Many barbel anglers consider them to be a nuisance, but as I am a genuine all-rounder I don’t feel that way. Yes, I prefer to catch my target species but don’t have any issue with others that take a fancy to my bait. I did catch a barbel though. It was a 1.45 am fish, which was good not least of all because it confirmed the decision to stay was the right one. Things don’t always go to plan but when they do it’s nice. And it proved to be the only barbel of the session as well.

 

Tip of the week

If you can stay out all night then do so. The short hours of darkness at the moment mean that you can fish both dawn and dusk, which are prime time big fish feeding spells.

Back on the Teme

After thoroughly enjoying the session, there was only one place I was heading for on the second trip of the week. Providing the stretch was clear I had in mind a different peg that I wanted to fish, and as I had the whole section to myself I was able to drop into it. Again it was a deep glide and I baited up as soon as I arrived. The heavy showers hadn’t really affected the river, other than putting a bit of colour into it, but they would certainly have an impact on me if I wasn’t prepared, so up went my 50″ umbrella. This time I had come with the intention of staying the night so set up my bedchair as well so that I could at least stretch out.

Many river anglers have an automatic inbuilt reaction whenever the words ‘bite alarm’, ‘bivvy’ or ‘bedchair’ are mentioned. Now of course, you have to be sensible. You can’t fish the same way on a tight peg on the Teme that you can on a forty acre gravel pit. But nevertheless, as long as fish welfare is not compromised at all, a little thinking outside the box does no harm. What’s the difference between laying out on a bedchair and sitting in a standard chair as long as you are next to the rod and the peg is snag-free? And even if I take a sleeping bag, it’s only to wrap round me like a quilt to cut out the chill. I won’t say anymore as the traditionalists are probably fuming enough as it is. Only teasing – well sort of anyway!

Just the one barbel again

As with the first outing, the second produced just the one barbel. Hardly action all the way, but from the conversations that I have been having with fellow anglers, many barbel anglers seem to be struggling at the moment. But as I am a definite quality-over-quantity fisherman myself, I’m not bothered too much about the numbers caught anyway. I’d sooner have one good fish than a dozen smaller ones.

Apart from the fish, the highlight of the second trip was getting lost in Bewdley. I mean, it’s hardly a metropolis is it? My first session had taken me through Stourport-on-Severn but lengthy roadworks meant that second time round I crossed the river upstream at Bewdley instead. However, there were roadworks here too and just one wrong turn ensured that I was on unfamiliar ground. Unable to turn back I basically kept going uphill till eventually I left the town behind and hit open countryside.

Fortunately I do have a good sense of direction so I didn’t panic and perhaps more importantly in this day and age of exorbitant petrol prices – I didn’t add too many extra miles to the clock. I did smile to myself though. I once drove from Maryland to Maine without so much as one wrong turn and yet I got lost in an English one-street town!

What do you think of it so far?

 

 

The first Teme barbel

‘What do you think of it so far?’ followed by ‘rubbish’ instantly brings a smile to my face and I remember the old Morecambe and Wise shows – well it is a memory-based article after all. Usually that sums up my start to the river season as well, but not this time round. I might not be setting the angling world alight but it’s been a steady start and without trying to tempt fate, I haven’t blanked yet. But above all I am enjoying my angling and that is what it’s all about at the end of the day.

 

 

Click on the icon for this week’s video clip

 

The week ahead

After a solid start to the river season I am going back to pool fishing this coming week as I target crucian carp. Definitely a species that peak in the summer as far as catching potential is concerned, I want to make the most of the time in the next seven days and put a few early morning sessions in. There is a venue I know that has a small head of fish and so it will be those that I will be trying to tempt.

(Originally posted July 2008)

 

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