Third run lucky!
‘Going fishing tomorrow and I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve. Only an angler would understand that!’ And that’s what I wrote on my Twitter page as I closed down for the night. And it’s true, I do feel that way about the prospect of going angling. You often hear fishermen say that they don’t feel the same way about it as they used to; all I can say is that personally my passion is like the Olympic flame. It doesn’t go out. One of the factors behind that, without any doubt, is that I am an all-rounder. In my case, variety is definitely the spice of life. And this time round I was looking forward very much to my first zander session of the year. While many anglers look at their angling in terms of season (June onwards) I see mine very much as a yearly thing.
If you’re a regular reader of my Angling Journal, I am sure you wonder how I manage to get so many hours in each week fishing? Well, there are a number of points that contribute to that, but one of them is time management. This is not just something that we should limit to a work-related environment; when we apply it into our personal lives, it opens up lots of opportunity and potential. I’m a well organised person, and combined with the fact that I am highly motivated, I find that the hours in the week are stretched when you think ahead and push yourself a little. Not that my life is regimented or inflexible – far from it – but a little bit of planning and motivation means I squeeze a lot more in my life than if I were all over the place and lethargic with it!
The lower Severn looking very low!
And so it was that I was able to clear a slot in my diary that included two nights, with a whole day in between. Lower Severn here I come, I thought, as I loaded the car and set off on a journey that would take me southbound on the M5 through Worcestershire. With the dry spell continuing, I knew that the river would be very low, and it was. The Severn is a river of extremes. One week it can be in the fields and the next you get more flow on the canal. And that’s what the lower reaches of the river resemble when it’s devoid of rain – an overgrown canal! Consequently I was able to hold bottom more than comfortably with a lead of just 1.5 ounces. I show the deadbait rig that I started with, on the accompanying video, and as you can see it is a simple affair.
I make my own traces, but if you are a novice predator angler and perhaps unsure, then either buy them from a recognised supplier or get an experienced fisherman to guide you. The very last thing we want is to leave trebles in a fish. Although things don’t always go to plan in angling, one thing I can say is that I’ve never had a rig give way, and for that I’m thankful. This time round I used Drennan wire, crimping the trebles which were varying sizes between 8 and 6 depending on the size of the bait. I also tend to use a little elastic around the deadbait so that the wire is pinned close to the fish. I set up in my swim, cast out, and within an hour had a run. Unfortunately I didn’t connect with it though. These things happen, particularly when you don’t leave the run for 5 minutes before you strike, as someone once told me to do!
Tansy growing along the bank
No more action for the rest of the day, or even the first night. I was able to mooch around in the bankside vegetation though looking for flowers! As you can see from the photograph above, I spotted a few tansy plants. They are a very bright yellow, but it’s only when you look closer that you fully appreciate their beauty. It’s a life principle isn’t it really; it’s often only when our casual glance becomes more inquisitive that we start to see things for what they are. That’s why I often say Bill and Ben were wrong, there’s no such thing as a weed! As well as Tansy I also came across skullcap, common mouse-ear and black horehound – all growing within a few yards of where I sat. And it was through the bankside vegetation that an otter popped its head on the first night. I’ve seen numerous otters before, but this was the closest I’ve been to one. One of the benefits of sitting still for long periods of time.
The bird life, as always on this stretch, was excellent. As I arrived and drove to the swim, I saw a female wheatear on the field that bordered the track. I’m always switched on regarding birds, even when I’m walking through a city I have an awareness that goes beyond the bit of pavement that I am about to put my next step on. And so when I caught the glimpse of a white rump, albeit very briefly, I stopped the car and saw the bird on the ploughed field. It would have been a migrating one and soon will be off to warmer climes. And whilst the days were glorious for my session, the nights were chilly. The zander weren’t playing ball either; until I had (and lost) a second fish over a day into the trip, I had no further action at all.
Right at the very end it comes good
But I was very hopeful as night two drew closer. I had been fishing livebaits as well as deads and it was with the former that I approached the prospect of darkness and all those hungry zander patrolling the river looking for a meal. But they must all be on diets, as the only time I was out of my bedchair was when I heard an owl in the area and I tried to spot it. But whether owls or zander, neither succumbed to my charms and as the daylight started to flood the scene in front of me, courtesy of a rising sun, it did look like a blank was on the cards. But with time running out, I put fresh deadbaits on the rods and cast for a final time as I began to think about breaking camp.
And with the clock counting down the minutes till I was on my way, a bleep on one of the bite alarms accompanied by a regular tap, tap, tap on the rod top meant that a zander had picked up the bait. I really didn’t want to lose this fish and until it was safely in the net I was ‘on edge’. It felt like being at a football game, winning 1-0 but it’s only when the final whistle goes that you celebrate! And just like footballers have unusual ways of celebrating success, mine involved slipping and putting my foot in the river. The only thing I will say in my defence though is that it wasn’t intentional, unlike some of the bizarre scenes we witness on the football field!
(click icon above for this week’s video)
(Originally published September 2009)