It’s a fine line between a hobby and a mental illness (barbel article, entry 382)

Always up for a piscatorial challenge, I find it easier to ‘move on’ in my angling after I have had success as opposed to when I’ve been struggling. And so on that front it was back to the middle Severn for me with the focus on catching a barbel. It was a lovely day as I made my way downstream, so much so in fact that I was sweating beneath my all-in-suit. However, this is the time of the year when the difference between day and night-time air temperatures can be as contrasting as black and white. And true to form, as soon as the sun dipped over the far bank it got quite chilly. What really counts though is the water temperature, and even though it’s now falling it’s not in free-fall, and so a readout of 12.9C didn’t give any cause for concern. I set up in the same swim as my last visit when I caught a decent chub. The river itself was looking good, but then again I think every river looks inviting. Tackle-wise I fished 10lb Sufix Synergy line with a two-feet hooklength of the same breaking strain Drennan Double Strength. I took the feed of hemp/crushed boilies/corn/brown crumb out to the fish via a 20g cage feeder. The bait approach was as my last few sessions, fishing an SBS Baits Undercover boilie hair-rigged on a size 8 Drennan Boilie Hook. The boilie was wrapped in paste and dipped in glug, as featured in last week’s article.


Although the photograph (right) may look dreary to the non-angler, to the fisherman it speaks an opposite language. Autumn barbel fishing on the river has to be high on the priority list of the all-rounder. Think of all the benefits and you realise why: More hours of darkness: Dusk beginning late afternoon: Quiet banks: Boat traffic down to a minimum: Fish feeding well: Water temperatures still holding up: Rivers much fresher than in summer. And those are just the points that came to mind without even thinking about it, I’m sure you can add more. But the point I am making is now is the time to get out and chase the barbel. On a typical middle Severn stretch you will get shallows where you can almost walk across the river without getting your feet wet (at low water anyway) and you get deep sections where the pace slows right down. It’s the latter you want to head for at this time of the year. I’m not saying that you won’t catch barbel in shallow water during the autumn, but given the choice, it’s the deeper bits I generally head for.


Following last week’s barbel blank (although I did catch a few chub) it was nice to get back on track as I finally netted one. Just a baby, as you can see from the shot left, but they all count. Right until I saw the fish though at the landing net I thought I was playing a good chub. Although we can generally work out what is on the other end there are still surprises along the way.

If you look closely at the photograph you may see my ipod earphone. I recently joined the world of Spotify and for someone who loves his music like me, it has been a brilliant move. For £9.99 a month you get unlimited downloads, and I sat through much of the session listening to Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the key of life. I am a Motown/soul/funk/northern man: my music choice is quite narrow really, but just like angling it’s down to us what we enjoy and participate in. And just like my approach to fishing may not be to everyone’s taste, then my music might not be either. In fact my wife jokingly calls it ‘ear pollution’. But I love it and that’s what really counts, the same as my angling!


My second visit to the Severn saw me fishing a new swim. In fact as I eyed the area up I thought to myself that this is either ‘all or nothing’. It was the sort of place that looked like it could have a monster lurking somewhere – or it could be devoid of barbel. I was definitely prepared to take a chance on it. One thing I am not afraid of is blanks. Sometimes venturing outside the box pays off and other times it doesn’t. On this occasion it was the latter. But as Delboy says, ‘He who dares wins Rodney, He who dares wins!’ and although I may not have ‘won’ this time if you never try anywhere or anything new then you will never move on. The water temperature was down to 11.6C and I was wondering if on my next visit we may be looking at single figures for the first time in months. And after local frosts for a few days there was a good chance of that.


However the water was holding up quite well considering the conditions, albeit just about in double figures. But as far as confidence was concerned it was a booster: funny how a few tenths on a thermometer can make a massive difference. And even though the air temperature fell sharply as the sun set, the water rose by 0.1C. Not much of a rise, granted, but it’s better to take a small step forward than it is to go backwards. On this occasion though it was all irrelevant as I clocked my second barbel blank on the trot. I had a number of plucks, particularly after casting out as the small fish pulled at the paste on the boilie. But nothing developed and I didn’t get the rod lurching over as I hoped for. Once darkness drew in proper it got quite cold and I tweeted that there is a fine line between having a hobby and a mental illness! A keen angler will know what I meant!


I’m having a tough time at the moment on the fishing front with just one barbel to show for two week’s worth of articles, although there have been several chub of course. But that’s the reality of angling, and certainly the type I do, where I am setting my stall out for bigger fish – not to mention the challenge I set myself with venues, conditions and so on. Only an angler would appreciate the way I live my life, motivated by the pleasure and fulfilment attached to the capture of fish! Talk about a misspent childhood, mine has spilled over into middle age. And it still shows no sign of letting up either; in fact quite the opposite as I’m just as passionate as ever. Now what was that about a hobby and a mental illness? Anyway I’ll be back next week and although I’ll still be on the Severn, it will be pike that will be the object of my desire this time round. See you then and in the meantime, check out my new facebook page, the link is below. (Published October 30 2010)





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