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At all times of the year we need to really think about our fishing in terms of venue, tactics and species. But once we hit the colder months then particularly so, as we don’t have the luxury of high temperatures which can cover over a multitude of angling sins. Get it wrong in June and the fact that fish are feeding more anyway, you can still catch something. But get your calculations wrong in December and big time blanks are on the cards.
That’s why I do a lot of thought preparation prior to the actual loading of the car. I know what slots I have in my diary to go fishing, so that’s fixed. But I give it much consideration as I think about species and venue. I’m targeting specimen fish so I want to get it as right as I can. And that’s why, this week my original intention was to pike fish the River Severn, but with extra water on I didn’t feel comfortable. I’m not saying that you wont catch pike in any conditions other than low and clear, just that I felt there was a better alternative.
And that option was barbel. The Seven was up a couple of feet (but falling), the extra water was from warmer rain from the SW and there was a lovely colour in the river. And those factors were why I decided to switch my target species. And it really paid off as well. I felt like Wolves manager Mick McCarthy must have done when 2-0 down to Swansea, he made some major tactical changes. And we came back to draw 2-2, and as a Wolves season ticket holder I was there that day. Whether it be fishing, football or anything, when you make a decision based on your observations, and it works, then you do feel a sense of achievement.
On the middle reaches of the Severn, the Hampton Loade area isn’t that far away. And in this day and age of expensive fuel, if you fish as much as I do then you need local waters. Arriving at the car park, as it was midweek, there were just 2 other vehicles there. The stretch fished is run by Kinver Freeliners. It is day ticket and you pay on the bank. While members can fish beyond dusk, if you have a day ticket it is only fishing up to dark. Check out the Kinver site for up-to-date rules before you venture out – the link is on the home page of my Angling Journal site.
I wasn’t that fussed where I fished, so with lots of free space, I dropped into a peg I that fancied giving a go. It was a beautiful day – as you can see from the accompanying video – and I was soon slipping the top part of my all-in-one suit off and tying it round my waist. My line was 10lb Sufix Synergy and the hook lengths also mono but Drennan Double Strength. Prior to actually casting out with the hook length and bait attached, I flicked just the lead out to see if it would hold in the current. I did and so 2oz it was, fixed between 2x 8mm beads and a power gum knot, so a safe set up.
Hooks were Drennan boilie hooks and sizes were 6 on the Barbel Stix and 8 on the 12mm M2 boilies. The baits of course are SBS and my confidence in the company’s products is such that I didn’t need a back-up or a plan B. And in the PVA bag went a few free offerings along with a mix of standard and betain pellets. I was fishing about a third of the way out and that was attainable with a gentle underarm lob. I was fishing by noon and I settled back with a flask of tea enjoying the beautiful day.
I didn’t have long to wait until I caught my first fish. It was only a small barbel but it’s always great to get off the mark. And that fish was followed by another. And another. And another. In fact I lost count of the total caught. Not that there were lots of them in the sense of getting swamped by numbers, but rather my mind count was seriously distracted by 3 quality fish that diverted my attention and focus. One of the fish wasn’t quite a double but the other 2 were. What we call ‘scrapers’ as they only just made it, but make it they did.
You can see the photographs above minus the second double. With all the others coming during daylight this was the only one after dark. As you can see from the accompanying video, there was a serious downpour, and with this going on for some time, the banks were very muddy indeed. It was quite comical really, but with just the photo to come, I took the resting fish from the net in the margins and made my way to the spot where I had set the camera. Then a series of slips kicked in, ending with the fish going back sooner than expected. No harm done though, just no photograph.
I fished a couple of hours into dark but with the river starting to rise and debris wrapping itself around the line making presentation very difficult, I packed away and set off for home. What a great session it was though with one double falling to the Barbel Stix, which was squiddy flavour, and the other to M2. It’s impossible to say what the future holds of course, but if I could fish with only one boilie for life, then at this present time it would be M2. That’s how much I rate it. In fact I started a question poll on my facebook page recently asking anglers if they could only use one boilie what would it be. Lots of different answers as you can imagine. Mine was M2, say no more.
My second session of the week was a couple of days later and the river looked good. I wasn’t in the same swim but a few yards downstream, so pretty much the same area. My tactics and approach were the same, the only difference is that I catapulted a few pellets out to where I fished laying a trail along the river bed between 1/4 and 1/3 of the way across. I also put a few freebie offerings as well. I’ve never been a heavy baiter, preferring to go light and increase during the session if needed. Remember, you can’t take it out, but you can put more in.
A few other anglers on the stretch appeared to be fish-less. And bored, as they were more preoccupied in using their catapult for shooting at birds than putting bait in. It was hard going and I guess that’s when our dedication comes through. I had just the one take – at dusk – on the M2 rod and this resulted in a tremendous fight that saw me net just a small fish. It really did go some and was certainly punching above its weight, that’s for sure. I know it’s easy to get distracted when the fishing is slow, but if we keep focused and thinking ahead then we are at least in with a chance. Other than that, we are in effect giving up.
I carried on fishing into dark by a couple of hours before packing away and heading for home. I did have some work to do and that saw me at my desk until well after 1.00am. I appreciate the freedom that I have, which of course allows me quality fishing time. But the flip side is that I will often be working when others have long since clocked off. And as most of my work is charity-based, I’m not even paid for it in the context of a salary or big pay cheque. But I’m not complaining though as I enjoy what I do and the fishing time I get is more than compensation.
The area where I was is excellent for tawny owls. I haven’t actually seen any yet, but multiple birds are usually heard calling from the woods around. One owl that I have seen occasionally though is a barn owl. It flies right in front of me, along the far bank on its night hunting trip. After the last couple of winters we’ve had I’m just amazed that any owls survived, as their source of food was holed up for days on end under a covering of snow. But survive they did. The world of nature can be cruel a times but it can also be inspirational.