Out-fishing one of nature’s best (roach article, entry 136)

Just the one session again this week and hoping to take advantage of the mild weather, I once more targeted the middle Severn in pursuit of roach. I decided to fish a new swim, one which I had noticed on previous visits to the stretch in question, but had not actually fished. It was a typical middle Severn peg – steep banks and a tight spot to fish on at the bottom. And with some recent rain it was quite muddy too.

The rain hadn’t affected the river in a negative way though, in fact quite the opposite as it had put just a tinge of colour into it. The levels hadn’t risen, so I wasn’t dealing with a raging torrent. Actually, I was able to hold bottom with a half-ounce bomb, so that gives an indication of the flow of the river.

Fishing with maggot, I moulded a small amount of brown crumb and dead maggots around the bomb to lay down a bed of feed. With the temperatures (both air and water) up I was expecting plenty of action. And so it was. Although I wouldn’t describe the day as ‘fast and furious’ nevertheless there was a regular trickle of bites.

Plenty of roach (just the one decent fish though) and dace, together with a single bleak a few gudgeon and a couple of minnows meant that variety was the order of the day. I also had a couple or so pike swirling in the swim (could have been the one fish of course) attracted by the food source provided by the smaller species. It’s difficult to say how big the pike was (were) but it (they) certainly created a decent wash every time it (they) smashed into the shoals of fish.

During the session I had the usual robin begging for maggots, plus my friends the mallards kept pestering me for food. In addition I had a kingfisher perched on a branch just a couple or so metres away. The bird made constant dives into the river, each time returning to the tree. A lot of people (non-anglers) get excited when they see a kingfisher, usually because of the bright plumage.

But as anglers we certainly get to see more than our fair share. Usually though they give just a quick glimpse as they shoot past us on the river, but to have one perched right next to you for a prolonged period is certainly a welcome change. And to watch it in action is a real bonus. Usually they catch more than I do, but on this occasion I am happy to say I out-fished one of nature’s best.

It was a very mild day, definitely what you would call spring-like. The lambs have been in the fields for some time now, and I saw my first nesting birds (rooks) last December – bizarre or what! However, there is still a cold feel as the sun sets, and as I had to get back anyway and couldn’t stay into dark, I wasn’t complaining. Of course though that’s often when the bigger fish will feed, but when you have to leave you have to leave.

We’re now in the run-in to the end of the river season. This season has been the first one where I haven’t really done that much river angling, certainly barbel fishing has taken very much a back seat compared to recent years. It’s funny really, as I have always considered myself first and foremost a river angler and the end of the season has always been something I have absolutely dreaded. But I seem to have lost that edge. But I’m not complaining at all, as long as I can go fishing that’s the important thing. See you next week.

(Originally published February 2006)

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