With flexibility being the name of my working life, I had a good few days at the start of the week clearing some free space for Thursday and Friday. I never have a totally free day as even on holiday I check e-mails for stuff that has to be dealt with. That usually takes minutes though, and anyway, I love what I do so it’s not exactly a hardship.
I’m an ordained minister by the way, and as well as pastoring a small church I also run a Christian-based charity that works predominantly in Africa. Doing something you enjoy doesn’t half make a difference to your mental approach. No Monday morning blues for me ever, no clock-watching and no wishing my life away until retirement.
I was fishing at Hampton Loade, on session one, at lunchtime. Wet and windy at times yet still and sunny at others, it was a typical autumnal day. One moment my jacket was on, the next it was off. As you can see from the sign in the photograph above, I was on the Kinver Freeliners stretch. A good two-thirds of it is available on a day-ticket and well worth visiting.
It’s a good stretch, and although I do fish other sections of the middle Severn, it is one of my favourites. Not just for the fishing either as the natural world is pretty good. In fact, within the first hour I saw two little egrets (I’m sure they were different birds) in flight downstream, following the course of the river.
As the afternoon wore on the rod tips remained totally motionless. The bird-life kept me entertained though with a female mandarin, grey wagtail and a male great-spotted woodpecker hammering on a common alder right behind me, being the highlights. But would the fish put in an appearance?
Well I did have a chub at dusk but what about a barbel? Good things come to those who wait, and after nine hours of angling my patience was rewarded. Fishing with 2x M2 boilies on one rod and Undercover Barbel Stix on the other, it was the former that did the business.
There was a big bright moon as well and I know many anglers don’t like fishing in those conditions. The reality however is if your bait is in the water you’ve got a chance, regardless of anything else. You will never catch sitting at home waiting for perfect conditions – and that’s a fact.
More than happy with the one barbel on a slow day, my joy was doubled a few minutes later when I netted a second fish. Again on M2, it merely reinforces my own personal view that it is one of the best all-round boilies on the market. It was the first one I fished with when I started using SBS Baits some years ago, and I’ve been a fan ever since.
Returning to Hampton Loade the next day, it was pretty busy so I found myself in a new swim. Well, for barbel anyway, as I have fished it for other species before. I used the same baits as previously, cast out early afternoon, and settled back to stare at the rod tips.
I do use baitrunner reels though, so in the event I am distracted by something else, I’m not going to lose my rod to a violent take. On the subject of tackle, if you do fish for barbel ensure you have an adequate sized landing net. When I was walking the stretch looking for a swim I noticed a couple of anglers with really small nets
They were small in both circumference and depth and it was quite obvious that even a well below average sized barbel wouldn’t fit in them. Does it make me angry? No, not in the slightest. I don’t feel the need to confront anyone or make a scene. I don’t write this in a critical spirit or with a judgmental attitude, just educational, that’s all.
Having a proper net is like fishing with the right strength line, suitable rod etc. It’s not just about fish welfare, it’s also about us being successful and actually catching the fish we hook. Just recently a barbel angler on the middle Severn was telling me how many he had lost in one day. It was because he was using 6lb line.
In our conversation I stated that I use 10lb and apart from a hook-pull I very rarely lose a fish, certainly not because the line snaps in the fight anyway. But doesn’t greater breaking strain mean you get less bites? Not necessarily, but surely it’s better to have two takes and net both fish than it is to get six and only bank one?
So, how did the fishing go? Well as in the previous session it was hard going but my perseverance paid off in the end as I caught a barbel. It wasn’t a big one, and certainly smaller than the two from the first outing, but it was very welcome. I didn’t stay as late this time as my granddaughter Nyah was having a sleep-over with us, so that was on my mind rather than catching fish. I love my angling, but when it comes to competing with family – no contest. (Published October 5 2013)
Coming soon! My brand-new YouTube channel and brand-new angling series. Click HERE to watch the trailer and subscribe.