Right up my street! (barbel article, entry 166)

Now that we are well into autumn my attention is switching to the River Severn, and in particular the lower reaches. If you have followed my exploits over the last few years you will know that the river below Worcester has certainly captured my imagination. And with a spare evening I headed for a new stretch of the Severn, one that should be fairly exclusive. However, on arrival (and I don’t want to sound snobbish) I discovered that the bank was inhabited by chav-types.

It was pretty obvious that these people were not members of the controlling association. However with my car being parked in an obvious place, I knew that if I spent the time before fishing evicting them, once I eventually got back to it then without doubt it would be damaged. I know it’s the easy way out, but I just chose a quiet spot and tried to ignore the people who were in effect freeloaders.

Even when two of them came and literally set up on my shoulder I still resisted the temptation to get involved. But it wasn’t just their presence (and behaviour) on the bank that annoyed me, it was also the way that they were fishing. They were targeting pike without the proper gear and when one caught a barbel and spent the next ten minutes walking up and down the bank to show his mates – it was hard to keep quiet.

So it’s true to say that I didn’t really enjoy the experience and packing away just before midnight I had just one chub to show for my efforts. I don’t know about you but I have to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy my angling and so in effect I wrote the session off. But my next one would be different, as I was heading for a remote stretch that doesn’t get the same sort of problems.

I was there to do a two-night session, and so before I even considered fishing, I set up a bait dropper rod and deposited a trail of seeds about 1/3 of the way across the river. As a devotee of the Lower Severn, when you can look north and see the Malvern Hills on the horizon, that’s a good feeling! And with the river being about fifty metres wide many consider it quite a daunting task. But once you fish it a few times you certainly get used to it and actually appreciate the benefits of being on a big river.

Fishing two rods, I cast both out and sat back. I had boilies on both, the only difference being the flavours. Whilst some may frown at using two rods for barbel, all I will say is that you’ve never fished the Lower Severn! The words ‘Lower Severn’ and ‘hard’ are synonymous! In addition the vastness of the river means that you can fish two rods without any worries concerning lines getting tangled.

It was very encouraging when just an hour or so into dark, I had a screaming run on one of the rods. Netting a barbel, it wasn’t particularly big but it was nice to get off the mark. Whilst the Severn below Worcester can produce good fish it can also be a heartbreaker as well. And with blanks being the norm, to get the first fish under your belt is always welcome.

Within another hour I added fish number two, this time on the other rod. It fought really well and during the fight I wouldn’t have been surprised if I found myself staring down at a double. However, although it was over a pound bigger than the first fish, it was still short of the magic figure. The rest of the night was very quiet and it was not until the morning when I caught a 3lb 1oz chub that my rods saw action again. And that was the last fish I caught as the next day and night were totally fish-less.

Although the first night was dry, after that it rained solid. I suppose it didn’t help that I stayed in a short sleeved shirt throughout the session (yes I can hear you thinking I must be mad!) but I was pretty damp. However, as everything in my shelter was hardly dry anyway, it didn’t really make that much difference. And with the bank being a quagmire, it was enough to deter many anglers I’m sure.

Yet I was actually enjoying the experience! In fact, sitting there in the mud and the rain I thought to myself that this is right up my street. And funnily enough, when I arrived home and my wife asked me about the conditions, that was exactly the phrase she used! I do prefer the wild and rugged fishing of the rivers as opposed to manicured lawn pegs and shower blocks. And as for DVD players, televisions and cordon bleu cooking, well they never even enter my mind!

(Originally published September 2006)

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