Thank goodness for modern technology (barbel article, entry 82)

With an opportunity to do an overnighter, I gathered my barbel gear together and set off at lunchtime for a session on the Lower Severn. I had a couple of meetings in the morning, and I don’t know if you do the same, but at the back of my mind I kept thinking to myself that it won’t be long until I’m fishing!

Although I would quite happily describe myself as an ‘angling nut’, I do shy away from the word ‘obsession’. The latter has an element of the unhealthy attached to it, and there is nothing negative that fishing brings into my life. Even my non-angling wife thinks it’s a good thing as it gets me out of the way!

Parking my car near the river, I spied a massive flock of lapwings making their way towards me. At a very conservative estimate, there were well over two hundred birds in the group. They were so densely packed together it reminded me of the Alfred Hitchcock film, ‘The Birds’. Passing directly overhead, it was only when they had moved on that I realised I had been quite fortunate, what with looking directly up in the air!

But on a serious note, I do enjoy bird watching whilst angling, particularly as my style of fishing often enables me to take in other things as well. I think the whole nature package adds to the enjoyment aspect of being out there at the water’s edge. Over the years I’ve certainly seen a variety of animals and birds that I wouldn’t otherwise have done.

Arriving at the edge of the river, I was happy to dump everything on the ground. I had chosen a peg that was a good walk from the car, so by the time I got there I had worked up quite a sweat. Within the hour I had prepared everything for the session, cast out both rods, and had settled back in the chair waiting for the kettle to boil. If there is one luxury I appreciate, particular on winter overnighters, it’s the facility to make a fresh cup of tea.

As the sun set on the horizon, it created a very bright band of orange that stretched as far as the eye could see, from left to right. For those of us that do a lot of night fishing, I’m sure we all have some great memories (and photographs) of wonderful sunrises and sunsets. And whilst this one wasn’t particularly stunning, it was just the fact that it extended as it did that made me reach for the camera.

Once darkness proper set in, it wasn’t long before I had my first fish of the session – a small chub about 1.5lb. I took a photograph just in case I didn’t catch anything else, so at least I had something to illustrate this article with. Within a few minutes though, I hooked into one of my target species and played it right to the edge, before the hook pulled. The consolation was that it wasn’t a particularly big fish.

Likewise with the next one I hooked, which as I played it I estimated it to be a barbel between five and six pounds in weight. Well, the poundage guess was correct, but as the fish came through the water to the waiting net, I was very surprised to find that instead of a barbel, I was about to scoop up a chub! What a difference a species makes. Whilst a 6lb barbel is a small fish, the equivalent size chub is a leviathan!

However, when lifting up the scales, it didn’t quite make the magical mark. But no way would I describe myself as disappointed. Actually I was more than happy to catch such a nice fish. Ideally it would have been caught while actually fishing for chub, but you can’t have everything. But even on barbel gear it still put up an excellent fight, and it was only at the net that I had realised what it was. I have now had several 5lb+ chub from the Lower Severn over the last few seasons, all caught whilst barbel fishing. On the other hand, when I have deliberately set out to catch them from the river, I have not caught a ‘5’. Such is life!

It was certainly action all the way, as within an hour, I had hooked and landed a barbel. I was looking forward to a night of action, but as it turned out, this was to be the final fish of the session. However, when I reeled in both rods the next morning I discovered that neither had any bait on them! So somewhere between the hours of 8.15 p.m. and 9.30 a.m., I had been fishing with bare hooks. Well it’s hardly surprising that I didn’t catch anything is it really!

It was also a cold night, and I’d have been better off sitting by the fire at home. But hindsight is a wonderful thing, pity it doesn’t kick in until after the event! And how I could lose two boilies from the rigs still remains a mystery. It’s hardly as if there are crayfish on the Lower Severn, and even at the height of summer, the thousands of eels do little more than nibble away at the outside of the bait, as I boil them well.

Upon arriving home I transferred the photographs from my camera to the computer, ready to add to the article I was about to write (the one you are reading right now!). And then I realised I had made a dreadful mistake. After I had taken the shot of the sunset I hadn’t changed the mode on the camera, and all the subsequent fish photographs had not come out at all.

Fortunately I have some editing software on my computer, which although I usually prefer my images to be natural, on this occasion I was more than happy to adjust the brightness. After all, it’s not as if I’m fiddling with the fish to make it bigger, but simply enhancing the image to make it clearer. So completing the article and getting it ready to publish, I found myself being very grateful for modern technology, otherwise there would not have been any accompanying images at all.

(Originally published February 2005)

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