One of the problems with being an all-rounder is that it’s easy to forget something. If you only ever fish for one species your gear remains the same week in and week out. When you’re here, there and everywhere though, so to speak, it’s much easier to leave something behind in the changeover from one thing to another.
Of course I’m building up to something, and in my case it was my landing net. Mind, that’s not strictly true, as I did have a net and a handle. Just that they weren’t compatible – the spreader block was sitting at home in my tackle room. You can’t fish for barbel without a landing net, however I managed an improvisation job and I was sorted
The lower severn, which was my destination, was low and running at minimal flow. It’s hard to imagine when the river’s like that, what it can be transformed into come the floods. Although sometimes a good twenty feet above the surface, the flood plains alongside bear testimony to the harsh reality of the raging Severn.
Worn level by centuries of overspill, they’re so flat you could play snooker on them. Easy work for farmers to plough and work on, and of course very fertile, but always a gamble as any breach of the bank can ruin a crop. For now though there’s no chance of that, but things can change very quickly on the Severn. It’s not so much what falls in Worcestershire but what the rain-magnet hills of Wales get.
There for the night, with such a decent forecast, I didn’t bother with a shelter. I just cast the rods out and settled down next to them. If you read my recent blog entry from the lower Severn, my approach, tactics and bait were identical. Before it was dark I netted my first barbel of the week – my DIY net didn’t let me down either.
The bait was 2x 12mm M2 boilies, dipped and cast out in a PVA bag of halibut pellets and M2 boilies. I didn’t think I was fishing very well and I had a bird’s nest with the line that needed to be sorted before I cast out again. I’ll take poor angling any day though if I can keep catching fish like the one above! Any barbel from the lower Severn is an achievement.
The next fish though wasn’t a barbel but a chub. Whether chub or bream, you can’t fish the lower Severn for barbel without picking up one or the other from time to time. This one took a fancy to a 2.30am Barbel Stix snack. It’s a good job I checked my baits ninety minutes previously as they had gone.
Eels may be in decline, but in the summer after dark they are still an issue on the Severn’s lower reaches. They whittle away baits so you’re left fishing a bare hook. In fact that happened to me on my previous visit a couple of weeks back. The decision to check proved to be a good move for the M2 boilie rod as well
Just after the chub came barbel number two. It put up a great fight, as barbel do of course, but eventually was on the unhooking mat and ready for a pose with yours truly. I had dozed off a little but didn’t mind being brought back abruptly into the land of the living.
If there’s one thing better than having a dream in your bed at home that you have a take, it’s suddenly realising your aren’t at home. And it’s not a dream. I packed away at 8.30am, timed to miss the motorway works traffic, and can you believe it, I had no bait on either rod! It’s hard enough to catch as it is on the lower severn, but you don’t have a chance without any bait!
Back on the lower Severn a few days later for another overnighter, I again had the stretch to myself. It was well into evening when I arrived, but there was no rush, as darkness was still a couple of hours away. Everything was the same as before, including the weather. I made myself comfortable under the stars next to the rods and waited.
Although I set the baitrunner facility on, barbel takes can still be very savage sometimes. I pushed a couple of sticks in the ground around the butt to keep it in place should I get such a bite. Otherwise the rod can be pulled out of position by a sudden violent lurch. I do watch the isotopes but it can be a long patient session on the lower so you need ‘doze-off’ back-up.
It was 11.30pm when the Barbel Stix was picked up by a fish. You can see it in the photograph above and as the caption says, it’s another decent one. Casting out and settling back again, I was pleased with myself. Not in an arrogant or boastful way, just genuinely pleased that I had banked another lower Severn barbel. They can be elusive at the best of times!
It was another one of those fine-line sessions as well, because it proved to be the one and only barbel I banked. I did witness some ‘action’ at first-light though. I heard a massive crash and commotion on the far bank under some overhanging trees, followed immediately by the haunting sound of a mallard in pain. I knew immediately what it was and this was confirmed moments later as an otter left the water. Nature can be cruel sometimes. (Published July 13 2013)