Switching to the Severn (barbel article and video, entry 294)

Switching to the Severn

Entering the final fortnight of the river season, I felt a magnetic pull not only to fish flowing water, after a few sessions on the canal, but also to target barbel for the first time in 2009. Over recent years I think it’s true to say that I have fished for that species more than any other, but I have never been totally focused on them. I definitely back away from using the word ‘obsessed’ though because that is totally unfair.

Just because some anglers choose to fish for one species, what’s the problem? None as far as I’m concerned. But that’s not true of everyone and there’s always someone in the world of angling ready to throw in a snide comment. If you want to fish exclusively for one species, using one style, on the same venue and even in the same peg, then that’s no business of mine. Go ahead. And no, I’m not ranting or on a soapbox, simply sharing my thoughts in a very calm manner. My pulse has not moved from its normal rate.



Feeling sorry for those out on the town

But my heartbeat definitely increases when set I off on a fishing trip though. I did the first session of the week on the very last day of February and I drove to the middle reaches of the River Severn. I made my way to a stretch that I have not been near for years but have felt the urge to fish it for a while. And with the temperatures – both air and water – up and rising, what better time to set up on the bank.

And when I say that fishing gets me going, that’s no exaggeration either. I reckon that if I were rigged up to a machine, the doctors would be amazed at the change that takes place the closer I get to my destination.

I can imagine them saying things like ‘We have never encountered anything like this before’ and ‘This man must really love his fishing’. Well, I can’t comment on the first, but the second gets a definite thumbs up from me. Driving to the middle Severn late on a Saturday afternoon, I felt sorry for all those people that were going to hit the town on the evening, while I was perched on the edge of the river.




Chub number one in daylight

Using the right tackle for the job

Obviously, after a few weeks pursuing perch and roach, I had to start again with the tackle needed for barbel. One of the advantages of going for one species for a number of weeks is that your tackle bag doesn’t need much adjusting. But when you have to more or less empty everything and begin anew, the danger is that you forget to pack away a vital item. Fortunately I didn’t and so had everything that I needed.

One of the noticeable changes was that I was now using 10lb line, with Sufix Synergy on the reel and Drennan Double Strength on the hook length. I fished a boilie, hair rigged from a size 4 Drennan boilie hook and chose a 2oz lead, which held bottom comfortably.

The hooklength was about 2.5 feet and I used a PVA bag of pellets and boilies around the hook bait to add bait into the swim. As well as accurate placing of bait, the PVA bag also ensures that the line does not tangle. Particularly when you have the bait in the water for long periods of time, you need to know that everything is as it should be.






Tip of the week


We’re now on the final leg of the river season.

Get out and enjoy a session before they close their doors for 3 months.

What you go for depends on the venue and the weather but above all enjoy.

That’s what angling should be about.


Angling is not the same as football

I had my radio on as I set up, and within a minute of the afternoon football games kicking off, they were reporting from the Wolves game as we were 1-0 down. And that’s how it finished 90 minutes later. In the meantime I had lost a fish myself. I struck as the line peeled off the baitrunner, and although I had the fish on for a few moments, the result was a hook pull.

Although I get frustrated with Wolves, I don’t feel the same way about my angling ‘failures’, probably because I first and foremost enjoy being there. But with football I am a results fan. None of this ‘We played great, the match was entertaining. Even if we lost 3-0’ business for me. I would sooner see the team play badly but get a 1-0 win and the 3 points. I want Wolves to be boring and win the Champions League not entertain the purists in the Conference.

My session ended pretty much lower league though as by the time I packed away, I had seen no more action. And all that in spite of perfect conditions and the river temperature running at a consistent 8.8C. But there’s always next time, I thought, which was the middle of the week..



The second chub of the session


No barbel but a brace of nice chub

I was back on the middle Severn and on the same stretch, but a different swim. This time I had taken two rods and that proved a positive move as I was able to fish them both comfortably in the wide peg that I dropped into. The river had more colour, was rising slightly, and the temperature was down to 7.4C, but I was still confident as I cast out and settled back. Although not cold by the standards of what we have been through earlier this year, nevertheless it was a little chilly and I wasn’t surprised when a hailstorm rained down on the umbrella.

But the fish were feeding and that’s what really counts. No barbel but a brace of decent chub, the first one coming while it was still light at 4.20pm and the other into dark at 7.45pm. In between I had a bite from another chub but there was nothing on the strike. By the time I packed away at 9.00pm the first signs of a frost were showing. I had a long walk back to the car and by the time I finally drove away my hands were absolutely freezing.


Click on the icon for this week’s video clip


The week ahead

The final week and I am going back to the River Severn to see if I can catch a barbel third time round. The weather forecast is slightly colder temperatures but I’m feeling lucky, as Clint Eastwood might say.

(Originally published March 2009)

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