LET TWITTER DECIDE, RIVER SEVERN BARBEL AND CHUB, WPL, LADYBIRDS, GARDEN SPIDER (Blog entry 690)

With a free Saturday afternoon, and both Stourbridge and Wolves at home and on my radar, I couldn’t decide which game to go to. So, I decided to put the dilemma on my Twitter account and abide by the decision. It was a one-day poll and with 172 votes, a pretty conclusive 4-1 ratio saw me heading for the Northern Premier League as opposed to the English Championship, for my 35th game of the season. I thoroughly enjoyed it and Stourbridge ended up with a 2-1 win. The game wasn’t played at such a frantic pace as the one I went to last week. That was a local derby though after all with lots of energy, stacks of passion and a big crowd.

Following on from my recent blog entry after the species, that drew a blank apart from chub, I was keen to get some barbel on the bank. I was motivated especially by the lost fish, right at the end of the final session. Losing a fish can send anglers one of two ways. Either it can discourage or it can motivate. In my case, as always, it spurred me on to put the record straight. You can see my rig in the accompanying video below. It’s a simple, straightforward one and above all, it works. I do vary my approach, of course, but first and foremost I’m always thinking how easy can I make it, not how complicated should it be.

In the video I talk about the importance of a safe rig. We have to do what we can to ensure the lead is not being towed around and can come free in the event of a break. Bear in mind though that there will always be a swivel attached, so in some ways there is never a totally 100% solution. What I do is fish with suitable line strength, constantly check it for weakness and so on, so that I keep risks to an absolute minimum. I also believe that, on whatever the subject, education is the primary way forward. Threatening to break someone’s legs on an angling forum because they don’t use an unhooking mat, or sending death threats because they stand when holding a fish, is probably going a little too far…

Fishing on the middle Severn for a few hours up to dark, I netted my first barbel of the season towards the end of the session. As far as barbel go it was just a small fish (photo below), but when it’s the only one you catch, size is irrelevant. I captured the fight on camcorder, took a photograph and then returned the fish. By the time my second outing came round, we had seen some pretty heavy rain and the low and clear conditions made way for a rising river the colour of hot chocolate. With just a few hours available in the day, I was tempted by the change. I still prefer dusk though dark, but any fishing is better than no fishing.

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As it was, I blanked, but that was no problem. At least I had a bait in the water and that means I at least had a chance. I fancied my chances if I could have stayed later but I had to get back for a football-related interview. It’s pretty much how my fishing is these days, I have to squeeze what I can into the time I have. Getting out is still very important though, in fact it’s a litmus test of where I am in life. I don’t mind being busy but as long as I can get bankside several times in the week, I’m happy. If ever I find that that the no-fishing days are starting to build up, that’s the warning sign.

So for me, angling is more than just a pastime-passion, it’s actually an indicator that I’ve got balance in my life. If ever I’m too busy to go fishing, then I really am too busy, and the situation needs to be addressed. As it is, I’m more than happy with how things are working out. My third outing was again a few hours, this time in the middle of the day. Again a barbel blank but talking to the bailiff, nine other anglers on the stretch were also fishless. This is why it’s good sometimes to know what others are catching – or not as the case may be – as it helps to bring your own fishing into perspective.

Back to football next and the TNS juggernaut continued to motor on. Although it was a victory, this time the margin was much narrower, as the end result was a 2-1 home win over Carmarthen Town. Still, another three points on the board as the incredible start to the season continues. With nine wins from as many starts, we are the current Welsh football equivalent of Mick The Miller. Although Sunday afternoon games are tight for me personally as far as time is concerned, nevertheless I can just about get there in time to consult the team sheet and go on air with TNS Radio.

I love British nature and from this week’s blog entry I’m introducing that as well. What I announced on my YouTube channel a couple of week’s ago is that I would be experimenting with Facebook Live and cutting out the usual full-length YT video. The videos on Facebook are good, especially as I’ve got the idea of doing some live footage from the bank. They’re also quite limiting though, both in practicality and scope. So, although I’m not going back to the original format of YouTube videos, I am using the platform to introduce clips that will be embedded into the weekly blog.

Watch the above video, it’s less than a minute and is amazing as it shows larvae through to newly-hatched ladybirds. They were originally spotted (no pun intended) on the wall by my granddaughter, Nyah. She’s inherited my nature-eye I think. She’s very keen and already she doesn’t see just a ‘bird’, but rather ‘duck’ or ‘pigeon’. Give it time and it will be male mallard and wood pigeon. While we’re on the subject of nature, I’ve also added a new page to the menu at the head of the site, detailing my daily sightings. There’s another video below as well. We have an Araneus Diadematus just outside the back door at the moment. With a beautiful sunset, it made for some great video footage. That’s a garden spider by the way.

My fourth, and final, Severn session of the week was a late afternoon and into-dark outing. I again failed to connect with any barbel but the chub (below) were obliging. Sometimes it’s like that, the going is very tough for one species but because you are catching another then you know that it’s not necessarily you, the bait or your rig. My bait, as it had been all week, was a 16mm SBS frankfurter sausage boilie. Placed over a number of freebies, it’s a simple approach, but one that works. As you can see in the second video in this week’s blog entry, being aware of what other anglers are catching helps you to bring your own fishing into perspective. After speaking to three other fishermen, who had all struggled on the barbel front, a nice chub actually became a result.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this week’s blog entry, I certainly enjoy putting it together. I’ve always enjoyed writing, even when I was a kid I spent a lot of time with a pen and notebook scribbling away. Therefore, a blog like this is something that I get a lot of satisfaction from doing. Plus, I want it to be a source of inspiration. I get lots of comments and feedback during the course of a week from people who say that they have been encouraged. As an example, I had the following from Andy Hind, on my Facebook page, this week:

‘Looks good! Can I just say that when I got back into fishing a few years ago, I found your YouTube channel and then the blog. It gave me great inspiration to pick up the rods again and I’ve not looked back.’

The comment was initially in regards to the ‘About me’ page on my website and then of course, Andy added the inspiration bit. Fortunately, because I’m not seeking controversy, I get very little in the way of negativity. Of course though, with five-figure engagements during the course of a month, inevitably there will be some conflict seekers. I can honestly say though we are talking very, very few indeed and their motivations are known only to themselves. Basically, my social media presence is a very happy and enjoyable experience. Feel free to join me on Facebook, click on the embedded FB post earlier in the blog send a friend request. (Published October 1 2016)