Although I hadn’t been barbel fishing yet in 2017, with the river season fast running out I had the urge to get on the Severn and see if I could catch my first of the year. The river itself was high but falling, which is just as I like it, so the conditions box was well and truly ticked. I managed a very short opening session on the way to football in Wales.

This was the debut outing with a new telescopic rod that I’ve got. Although I’ve been doing a lot of fishing with my Poachers Pocket set-up recently, this was the first time I had fished with the rod that my youngest daughter and her boyfriend bought me for Christmas. I can’t report on how it fared though as it saw no action. Well, it was just a flying visit in the middle of the day, but at least I had a chance. You’ll never catch if your bait isn’t in the water and that’s a fact.

I did find a small common toad though, hidden under a pallet that I moved. I’ve been honoured to have seen the African Big Five in their native environment but I still love British nature. Like anything else in life, appreciate the big picture but never lose sight of what’s on your doorstep. Many spend their whole life chasing impossible dreams but forget the simple things that are right in front of them.

The next two sessions were not only longer but also took in dusk and a couple or so hours of darkness. My approach was an SBS 18mm frankfurter sausage boilie fished over loose offerings. The hook-length was Discovery braid and the hook a size 6 Grip Tip – both products again from SBS. Both evenings were very tough and that was evident from the lack of surface action at dusk.

Usually there will be roach topping, chub and barbel crashing and small fish clearing the surface in the margins as the predators grab a last snack before dark. However, there was nothing – it was like a piscatorial graveyard. I did manage a really good pull-round though on the first of the longer outings. Unfortunately nothing else happened and after waiting a few moments, the retrieve revealed somehow that the hook had twisted and so didn’t connect with the fish. I nearly always use a PVA bag to avoid tangles etc, with ‘nearly’ the key word on this occasion!

However, the blank, rather than discourage me, actually inspired me to catch something the next day – which was the final one of the river season. Back on the same stretch, but in a different peg, I was hopeful. You cannot underestimate the importance of confidence in fishing. That positive attitude was rewarded when the left rod went off on a screamer.

I played the barbel right to the side and then felt very unwelcome grating on the line as the fish had taken me into a snag. I tried everything from tugging at different angles through to leaving the line slack in the hope that the fish would swim free. Unfortunately nothing worked but the saving grace was that I got everything back intact so at least the fish was also free.

Leaving it right up to the time I had to pack away to be off the stretch, one rod came in and then the other. As I lifted into the second one I felt a fish on the other end. What must have happened is that it took the bait a split-second prior to me taking hold of the rod. I really didn’t want this one to get away and I kept it as high in the water as I could.

Fortunately I was the winner this time and it made the net, unhooking mat and camera, before going back to enjoy three months of absolute peace and quiet. Well, from anglers anyway as the stretch is frequented by otters, although I didn’t see any this week.

As well as the embedded YouTube video from the bank that you can watch above, I also did a short Facebook Live one as well. I enjoy going live and capturing the moment, so if you’re connected with me on Facebook make sure you look out for ‘Live’ notifications as Facebook is really plugging them at the moment.



We had a football-themed service at Tipton Family Church last Sunday and I did another Facebook Live video. It’s about the 1908 FA Cup final, Rev Kenneth Hunt and more. Watch the video below.



Finally, I was on a road trip with a couple of professional footballers this week and all is revealed why below. If you’re on Facebook, by the way, you can connect with me by clicking the post.