Two rods plus two nights equals one bream (carp article and video, entry 259)

One of the waters that I fish is a syndicate on the lower Severn. I know that to many anglers the very mention of the word syndicate gets their blood boiling but I’m not one of them. Anyway you have to look at all the factors involved as to how the venue came to be ‘exclusive’ before you can even begin to form an opinion. And whilst some may be birthed in murkiness, the one I am in on the river is as clear flowing as a chalk stream on a bright summer’s day.

And it was on such an afternoon that I arrived at the water’s edge to commence a two-night session on one of Britain’s best-loved waterways as far as anglers are concerned. Whether it be the trout and grayling of the headwaters, the shoal barbel of the middle stretches or the specimen-sized but elusive fish of the lower, there are certainly many that pledge their affections to Sabrina as she works her way from the mountains of Wales through to her conclusion as she mingles with the Bristol Channel.

Putting my carp head on

In several years of barbel fishing the Severn below Worcester I had caught just one carp before moving to the syndicated stretch two years ago. Yet last season, the tables were totally turned and the numbers of carp caught actually surpassed the barbel. This was due in no small way to the large numbers of fish that made their way from lake to river courtesy of the incredible floods witnessed in the counties of Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.

There was already a small but steady colony of fish in the area anyway so fishing for them was still a viable proposition, but the sudden influx of refugees definitely changed the piscatorial landscape. Hence I have decided that this season it will be carp that occupy my non-predator time on the lower Severn rather than barbel.

I never thought I’d see the day when I would be heading southbound M5 and not have barbel gear with me, but instead have a car loaded with carp stuff. But that’s exactly the situation I found myself in as I set off from home.


The sun sets over the lower Severn

No jungle to clear

If you read my journal entry last week, you will be aware that I had some serious vegetation clearance work to do before I could get anywhere near the river. But not so this session as all I needed to do was some grass flattening which apart from aggravating my hay fever was an effortless task. The peg that I wanted was free (just one other member on the water) and so I set up as the sun’s rays beamed down from a bright blue, cloudless sky.

The river itself was very low and resembled nothing more than a large canal. Unless you followed a surface object that was being slowly taken downstream, with the naked eye you would have found it hard to know which direction it was actually flowing in. But the total unpredictability of the Severn is that next week it may well be in the fields. You just never know and if you want to fish it regularly and consistency, flexibility is the name of the game.

I was obviously in a good spot, but not necessarily for fishing, as out of the quietness of the countryside, two male ramblers appeared over the nearby stile and proceeded to set up a picnic right next to my bivvy! I thought it was funny, after all they had so much riverbank to settle in and yet they dropped themselves right next to me. They were friendly enough and certainly weren’t out to cause any problems so I wasn’t concerned. But I do seem to attract them though, as my wife reminded me of the time I was in Amsterdam and accosted by two gay hairdressers in leather hot pants. Now that’s another story for another day!


Tip of the week

Make the most of the wider nature package on offer. Get yourself a pair of binoculars and a good bird book and enjoy the beauty

of creation.

Skylarks and hares

As a keen birder, the first thing I noticed as I arrived at the Severn was the presence of several singing skylarks over the surrounding meadows. The previous two seasons have drew blanks as far as that species is concerned, so to see them around in reasonable numbers is very encouraging. If you aren’t into birds they are the ones that have a beautiful incessant outpouring that is very distinctive as they flutter over fields. Next time you are out and you hear a song in the sky that is obviously from a fixed point then scan until you see the bird itself.

But the wildlife highlight was in the field directly behind me. With plenty of crop fields as far as the eye can see the habitat is good for hares and they certainly have had a good season as they regularly ventured out in numbers onto the shorter grass of the meadow to graze. The first evening was the best of all though as I spotted seven in total including young ones. Hares are my favourite British mammal and I’ve never seen so many in one place before.

The fishing brings me back to earth!

If the wildlife was exciting, the fishing brought me back to reality! Although I was very confident of a fish once darkness came, the problem is at this time of the year, you aren’t talking much time. It was 11.00 pm before you could say it was properly dark and at 3.10 am the first bird opened up the dawn chorus – a blackcap that had roosted in bankside willows.

In fact the only fish of the session was caught mid-morning in bright sunshine and it wasn’t a carp that took my tutti frutti boilie but a bream. It was a decent fish, certainly bigger than the usual shoal bream that you invariably encounter when on the lower Severn. And as my wife will always remind me in situations like this – at least I didn’t blank! On the video that accompanies this week’s article I will ‘talk’ more about tackle, bait etc, so if that’s of interest then make sure you watch that. And if you like your soul music then it’s worth the effort just to hear another great tune!

Comparing notes


Just the one bream to show for my efforts

One of the positives about the syndicate is that everyone is open about catches, pegs fished etc. As it happened, a couple of the other members also had the same idea of fishing for the carp. Arriving on my second night, one did an overnighter the other two nights like me. But both blanked as well. Not that we find comfort in others’ misfortunes – far from it – but when you aren’t alone in your struggles then you know that it isn’t just you. This particular stretch must be one of the hardest I have ever fished. But the plus side of that is that when you do catch it certainly makes you appreciate your fish.


Click on the icon for this week’s video clip


The week ahead

It’s back to barbel fishing next week for me. Although I am being more flexible in my species approach than ever before, it’s still hard to completely ignore barbel. There is a small river that I want to have a session on plus I intend to get back to the middle reaches of the Severn. Unless we get significant rain the river will remain low and so the stretch I have in mind will be ideal as it is fairly deep.

(Originally posted June 2008)

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