I usually do my fishing towards the end of the week, but due to having a couple of visitors from Tanzania, I was forced to squeeze in a Monday session. I use ‘squeeze’ very carefully as I had to do a lot of shuffling around, and even then I could only do the day until early evening. Deciding to go for all or nothing, I headed to the lower Severn, and because of the condition of the river, instead of zander, I dusted down the barbel gear.
The river was carrying extra water, and the temperature was up slightly at just below 8C, so it looked good. But when you are referring to the river below Worcester, you really need to add ‘on paper’ to any statement about how the river should be responding. However, even though I was there for just an initial few hours – and that was further reduced due to massive travel delays on the journey – I was still confident. The extra water opened up a lot of swims that otherwise would not be easily accessible.
set up in a ‘banker’ swim, and although it wasn’t too bad to start with, the rising river meant that I had the problem of debris as the session wore on, particularly leaves, covering the lead and more importantly, the hookbait. Even with a six ounce lead, within seconds of casting out, the rising river pulled everything close to the bank. It was certainly hard work and after losing a couple of leads I moved swim. The second one was easier to fish, although the rubbish still gathered around the hook, which meant regular casting. I ended up doing a few more moves, but drove home without any action whatsoever.
In fact the highlight of the session was a peregrine falcon that flew low across the river, mobbed briefly by a carrion crow. I had another sighting an hour later, presumably of the same bird. Although the fishing can be slow at times on the lower Severn, the stretch I visit is excellent for birding, and already this season I have an impressive list of species that includes barn owl, green sandpiper, osprey, redstart and yellow wagtail. Although I am first and foremost there for the angling, the fact that I can take in the wider nature package is a welcomed bonus.
Once I got home, angling was far from the agenda, as I drove to the airport to collect the visitors from Tanzania who then took up my time for the rest of the week. I am the director of a charity working in Africa and they were here as part of that organisation. After the time with me, they were in Wem in Shropshire, which is where I drove them on Friday. Passing over the Severn a few times, the river looked good. So good in fact that I thought about a second session for the week on Saturday morning. Calling the EA Riverline number, I was greatly encouraged by the temperature reading, which was pushing 10C.
I decided to fish a stretch on the middle Severn this time, again targeting barbel. I knew exactly where I was going to set up, and as is always the case here, I had the whole place to myself. I don’t do that much fishing on the middle Severn, but when I do, this particular stretch features more than the others put together. Again though, I was frustrated by the conditions. With four metres of rising water, I was fishing way back from the usual spot and found that I was losing leads regularly as the current washed everything back to the edge. After a busy few days I was quite tired anyway, and was hoping for a nice relaxed session where I could cast out and settle back. Combined with the driving rain and cold wind, I only stayed an hour before finally succumbing to the conditions.
This has been my first blank week for a long time, but that’s angling for you, particularly specimen fishing. But rather than be defeated by it all, I am now looking forward to next week, particularly as I have some quality time to fish rather than trying to fit in a couple of sessions during the day. Hopefully the river will be back to a reasonable level so that I can get back to chasing the zander. But whatever the conditions are like, I will be out and about somewhere, that’s for sure.
(Originally published December 2007)