Where there’s a will, there’s a way
Looking at the week ahead, due to a number of fixed appointments in my diary, I didn’t think that I was going to make a zander session this week. However, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and so I managed in the end to not only do one but two trips. The good thing about predator fishing in general is that you don’t need to pre-bait a swim; you can literally arrive at the water’s edge, set up your gear and cast out. It certainly helps when time is tight, as opposed to the way many anglers pursue barbel for example, which involves baiting the swim and then waiting an hour or more before casting out.
The stretch I fish on the lower Severn was empty as I arrived, which has been the case every time I have visited so far this season. Even though it is a fairly small syndicate water, to put so many hours in and not see another angling soul is for me a good thing. The main reason being of course that whatever swim I have chosen to fish beforehand is free. Not that a car parked along any peg is a problem though, that’s the beauty of this section – fish will show up anywhere. I have a number of swims that I am happy to fish in should I need to put plan b or c into operation, but I always prefer it when the elected one is available. I do a lot of mental preparation prior to even setting off from home and find I always fish better when everything goes to plan.
The first zander on session one
On this occasion I was fishing between a common alder and a purple willow in a swim that won’t be as easy to fish for zander when the river rises from its present low state. Therefore I am making the most of it as it is being kind to me at the moment. I set the rods up at the top of the bank, pointing down to the river, and have a series of footholds in the drop-off ensuring I can get to the water’s edge safely. It’s amazing how even in the middle of the night when you have dozed off, you instinctively strike into fish and make your way to the netting spot. Forget spending money on brain training exercises, I reckon night fishing keeps you sharp!
The first two fish came before darkness descended though, first of all a zander and then a pike as dusk took its stranglehold on the remaining minutes of light. Now that the clocks have gone back, and the days are getting shorter anyway, come 5.00pm it’s pretty much head torch time. But for those of us that like our night fishing, this is is nothing but good news. The third and final fish of the session, a zander, came in the early hours with all of them falling to gudgeon sections. In my opinion, small baits do not necessarily equal small fish. And to a great extent even large baits don’t eliminate smaller ones either, as I’ve had plenty of greedy perch on baits that are only slightly larger than they are!
The Severn in November
The second and final session of the week saw me again have the stretch to myself. This time I wasn’t on an overnighter though, just an evening visit. And what a difference a few days had made, as persistent heavy rain had pushed the river up by a good three feet. I knew this would be the case though and so had already decided where I would fish. The swim in question has produced lots of zander for me in the past and is a good high water mark as the clump of willow trees upstream helps to divert the main flow away, which in turn means less debris and leaves around the line, lead, and more crucially the bait. I was pleasantly surprised though to find that in spite of all the recent rain it was still possible to drive to the water’s edge.
The conditions made the river look very barren and windswept. Not only the rain, wind and overcast sky but with the leaves mostly gone from the trees; it reminded me why I invested in a Trakker Armo a couple of years back! Sitting under an umbrella on this session, my main concern was whether it would stay rooted or get turned inside out and blown away in the strong gusts that came from nowhere. I don’t know whether it’s just me but I do seem to get through umbrellas like they are going out of fashion. And then, reading Dave Lumb’s blog the other week I realised that it isn’t just me. There are at least two of us that think brollies ain’t what they used to be!
Looking very wintry now!
As far as rigs were concerned on these two sessions, they were identical apart from the 1.5 ounce lead being upgraded to a 3 ounce one for this session. The leads were free running on 15lb Sufix Synergy main line with a bead on the swivel. Using small gudgeon sections, I fished with a single size 6 treble. It produced the goods first time out but second time I left the river with a blank to my name. It was entertaining though, as there were numerous fireworks displays in the wider area which I got to see for free. Watching a black horizon suddenly come to life as a firework bursts into colour is an impressive sight.
Another factor that added to the wintry feel of the session was the large flock of c.150 fieldfares that were in the area. With trees being at a minimum they weren’t very happy that I had settled into a spot that they had obviously chosen as a roosting site. But after a few noisy protests they flew somewhere else to settle for the night. Into dark I heard a barn owl call briefly, but in spite of using the moon and cloudless sky to my advantage, I couldn’t see it. I did have a pleasant surprise though as I drove up the grass track back to the road. The first snipe I have seen in the area flew away, giving a good view in the headlights of the car. Then it was back home for me, off to bed and dreaming about Wolves beating Arsenal the next day in the Premiership. Well you can dream can’t you, and who knows!
(Originally published November 2009)