Sunday is usually a very busy day for me, after all, as an ordained Minister I only work one day a week and that’s the day. Service wise, I am usually committed to two – one in the morning and one in the evening – and so fishing is usually the last thing on my mind. Not that I don’t necessarily think about it though, just that I don’t get to do it. However, with a Sunday evening free I decided to pack the car and set off for the lower Severn. The days are getting shorter and as it was late by the time I arrived, I cast out as dusk was well and truly on the way.
The river was looking good, and there was definitely an autumnal feel to the place. The breeze was causing a steady trickle of already withering leaves to depart from the branches that they have been connected to for the last six months or so. And with large numbers of swallows heading south on migration to Africa, not to mention a few calling winter visiting redwing passing overhead, the fall is well and truly here. But as an angler, the change of seasons merely means that you switch species if you want to maximise your catching potential.
Whilst in a general sense, you can catch anything at any time, realistically you have to recognise that specimen tench fishing is going to be hard in the middle of January and if you really want to catch something when the water temperature is 3C then get out the grayling gear. Whilst I have absolute admiration for single species anglers, personally I like to switch between fish, as it keeps me fresh and focused. And so on that front, whilst still enjoying the lower Severn, I have been edging towards going for zander. Plus I want to give the roach a fair crack of the whip.
So I had sort of decided (well, at the end of the day my fishing is meant to be enjoyable, and if I want to change my mind I will) that this week would be the last barbel one on the Severn. Until the river is in flood that is as one should never look a gift horse in the mouth. Therefore with a couple of sessions, I was hoping that I could at least break my current lean spell as far as barbel are concerned. But it wasn’t to be, another blank was added to the list. When I got home, as always, as soon as I walked through the door my wife asked me if I caught anything.
‘No, I blanked’ I replied, but then adding, ‘But I did catch a bream’. ‘So you didn’t blank then?’ was her answer. And I suppose technically I didn’t, but all you dedicated barbel anglers know what I mean. After all when you are on an overnighter, you would probably prefer to blank as opposed to being woken in the early hours of the morning on the lower Severn by a 2lb bream. We’re an odd lot us anglers at times, and I think it takes one to understand one.
Anyway, with an attempt to rescue the week as far as something decent was concerned, a sudden window of opportunity arose on Wednesday evening. It was so sudden that I had to literally load the car and set off there and then in order to make it for a reasonable time. As I was taking the same gear as last time it was a fairly straightforward task though, I didn’t have to worry about different items of tackle as if I was switching species. But then, just as I approached junction four on the M5 I suddenly realised I hadn’t got any boilies out of the freezer. ‘What do I do?’ I asked myself. By now it was well into peak time for afternoon traffic, so if I did go back, by the time I would make it to the river it would have been dark. In addition, I was almost half-way there. I knew that I had some pellets in one of my bags, so I decided to carry on and fish with those instead.
Pellets on the lower Severn equals bream. Lots of them. And so it was, as the session produced plenty of activity. But just after midnight I struck into a fish that immediately I knew was a carp. After a good fight I landed a very feisty mirror. It proved to be the only decent fish of the session, although I did have a screaming run at 5.00 am that saw me striking into nothing rather than the solid resistance of a barbel. I’m beginning to sound like my wife here, but at least I caught something.
It would have been nice to go out with a barbel, before I target other species, but there’ll be plenty of chances to have another crack as I’m sure the river conditions will dictate that way. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if the river carries extra water for the next month, such is the unpredictability of predicting and planning. So although I have made my plans, it is all down to Mother Nature really. The only thing I can say with all certainty is that I will be fishing.
(Originally published October 2007)