Time certainly flies and it was just like five minutes ago when, on the evening of June 15th, I got my barbel gear together for a midnight assault on a small local river. I remember having a text conversation with Stu Maddocks, as he was after the same species but on the Severn. With the river season about to kick off, the middle of March seems like a million miles away. Yet, here we are, nine months later, and another pregnancy-term of flowing-water fishing has passed under the bridge of life.
Every angler will have had their own plans for the end of season party, hoping that it will be a grand finale and that they will be going out with glory rather than a whimper. I saw the final week out with a couple of perch sessions on the River Severn. And for those who read my Angling Journal regularly, you will notice a slightly different format to the article. Rather than the photographs inserted in the piece itself, they are laid out at the top and the text beneath. A change is as good as rest and all that, plus it’s much easier for me to put together. Let me know what you think via my facebook page. I am genuinely interested in general feedback.
Anyway, my first trip to the river was another early start. Not that I’m complaining though; even though I describe myself as a non-morning person, having a day’s fishing ahead is not exactly a hardship is it. I don’t lie in bed thinking, ‘Oh no, I’ve got to get up’. It’s not work we are talking about, this is angling! I have noticed that it’s always a slow start to the fishing on the Severn, and even up to a couple of hours in I may only have one or two small perch. It isn’t exactly wall-to-wall perch and so you have to draw them in, and then get them feeding. I have done a few lower Severn perch sessions of late, so I’m not going to repeat myself regarding tactics, bait etc because it’s all as before. Check out the other articles, they are listed with species and venue details.
I ended up with several fish in the 1-2lb bracket and that’s one of them in the first photograph. I didn’t weigh it but it was a nice solid fish that would have just topped the 1lb mark. Some of them were bigger, as you can see from the third photograph which was looking into the keepnet at the end of the session. My float fishing on the Severn is with a Greys Prodigy rod I bought a short while back from Harris Sportsmail. It’s been an excellent rod, and after I’ve put it through its paces, I’m certainly pleased with it. I chose it specifically for perch, but have confidence that it will have a much wider portfolio than that. It has a lovely action and you feel very much connected to the fish during the fight.
My session was almost an all-perch catch until a ruffe popped up (second photograph). They certainly aren’t a widespread species, and the lower Severn is one of their strongholds. There aren’t many times I fish with worm or maggot on the deck and fail to pull one up from the depths. Maybe it’s their exclusivity, perhaps the fact that they look like perch, who knows. But as my tweet/facebook from the water’s edge said: A steady trickle of nice perch and I’ve caught a ruffe *I love those little fellas*. I usually end up at least connecting with a pike as well, and although they were present in the swim, I ended the session Esox lucius-less.
On a recent visit I saw a solitary female goosander, and she was still there. Normally found further up-river, she did look a little lost, but must have been happy otherwise she’d have gone. A pair of kingfishers also flew across the river and several sightings of a single bird followed. Three gull species seen were black headed, herring and lesser black-backed. I had a very brief glimpse of a bird that I thought may have been a peregrine. But unless I’m 100% then it doesn’t count.
My second and final journey to the Severn a few days later had me photographing my second flower of the year, a wild daffodil (fourth photograph). The first, as always, was a snowdrop. But the race for second is a much more open affair, and although I did spot a few of last year’s runners-up, the lesser celandine, they were only just beginning to bloom, whereas the daffodil was already showing well. Similar to the cultivated version, the wild daffodil is much more delicate, has a pale perianth and has erect leaves. Location is also a key, and when you find them away from human habitation that’s also a clue that it isn’t perhaps one of the smaller cultivated varieties.
Fishing was slow at first as usual on the Severn, but I knew that sooner or later the perch would come in and on the feed, attracted by goodies in the swim. And once they did I had a regular fish throughout the rest of the session. They were pretty much in the size bracket as per the first outing, with the fifth and final photograph at the top of the page typical of one of the perch that needed the landing net. I caught only perch this time round, although there were plenty of small roach in the swim. On a frequent basis they cleared the water as a predator ploughed into them. I didn’t see what was doing the pursuing, could have been small pike or large perch. Or zander. Or chub. It’s a hard life being a small fish, that’s for sure, when everything wants a piece of you. Literally.
I finished mid-afternoon and so didn’t get chance to see the river season out in style, although my final fish was in the 1-2lb bracket so I guess that’s not a bad way to close proceedings. It was a little sad thinking that I won’t be able to fish the rivers for coarse species again for three months. But as the title suggests, it is only a temporary thing, and before we know it, three months will have flown by. I needed to be back home for a number of reasons: deadline day for my Wolves season ticket approached so I wanted to get that done: I had work to do in my office: I was going on holiday the next day. And more of the latter in next week’s piece. See you then! (Article published March 26 2011)