Still in shorts but for how long? (barbel article, entry 169)

They say that lightning never strikes twice. Well I don’t know about that, but for the second barbel session in a row I was faced with a hurricane! Yes, I know we only get the tail end of them here in the UK, as they work their way across the Atlantic. But nevertheless, by our standards, it’s still pretty gusty. It will take more than a bit of wind though to stop me fishing, and so I set off as usual down the M5 to begin a two-night session below Worcester on the Severn.

Once everything had been deposited at the water’s edge, the first thing I did was to bait up. When the river has some flow I always use a bait-dropper, as this ensures that the seeds get to the bottom quickly and I know exactly where they are. However, as anyone who uses this method regularly will know, it can be time consuming putting out half a bucket of bait or more. Therefore, when the flow is minimal – as it is at present – I opt for mixing the seeds with brown crumb and lobbing in balls as big as I can accurately throw.

Once the shelter was up and everything ready to cast out, I took a walk along the bank to a couple of anglers already fishing when I arrived. Normally I wouldn’t do this, preferring very much to fish alone and away from the crowds. (I would describe myself as non-sociable though rather than anti-sociable – there is a difference. Although some of the people I have encountered through angling I would very happily do anything I could to avoid, but I digress!).

However this particular section of the Lower Severn is a syndicate water that I have joined this season and so it’s good manners to drop by and say hello to anyone else on the stretch, particularly if you haven’t met them before. They had already been there a couple of nights and had caught a few barbel with one of them being a low double. Although you can catch good fish right through the warmer months (I had a big ‘13’ myself a couple or so seasons ago at the height of summer) it is the autumn onwards that really brings the bigger Lower Severn barbel on the feed.

And whilst I haven’t caught a double yet myself this season from the river below Worcester, I’m not concerned as I had originally looked at October anyway to start fishing it properly. I began in September simply because I couldn’t wait! That’s the thing with angling, many times you know that it’s not quite the time to maximise your catch potential, but you do it anyway. There is always the element of the unknown that spurs us on.

And talking of the unknown, it is that sense of mystery that to me makes the Lower Severn so attractive. There are bigger fish to be caught on many other rivers in the country, but there is just something about the Lower Severn that draws me back time and time again. And being in a syndicate that offers a mile of river to just a handful of anglers is certainly appealing.

The first night of the session was quiet. I did have one run but nothing on the strike. My shelter held up well though in the wind, and there weren’t any moments that caused me to think that I would be doing a Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I had set up behind bank side trees though and they helped to deflect the full force of the hurricane (this one was called Helene). By the time the morning broke it was calm and I wondered what the next night would bring fish-wise.

Fortunately, although I did have another phantom run, I also connected with and landed a barbel. Not that I’m afraid of blanks (in fact on many of the venues I fish they are part of the furniture) but it is always nice to get a fish – if only that the home page of my Angling Journal might have a nice photograph to grace it! The barbel came in the early hours of the morning and I was still in shorts and shirtsleeves. Not sure how long I will continue with that mode of dress though, as it will inevitably start to get cooler now.

(Originally published October 2006)

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