An angler's journal

An angler's journal

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Rising rivers bring hope

It has been a while since I last posted but the half-term break meant I had the opportunity to get out and do some fishing. Even better that it coincided with the first proper influx of rainwater to our waterways. With the rivers carrying some extra water after months of stagnation I decided to try and catch my first barbel since the end of August.

The venue for my first session was the middle Severn, a few miles downstream of Brignorth. The venue is one I know reasonably well and I have a few go to swims when the river is high. I found
A high & coloured river Severn
the river up about 5 foot on normal. It is well documented that extra water entering the river as a result of a mild weather front, can encourage barbel to feed in earnest. In these conditions it is usually a case of finding the fish and presenting them with a bait. It sounds simple and it is if you follow the basic rules of watercraft. I believe it's often easier to find fish in these conditions than in normal ones. You see, a high, raging river actually eliminates many areas. Places where the flow is too fast, the bottom uneven and causing boils, and areas lacking suitable depth can all be ignored. Instead, slacker areas behind trees where the current is much more near to normal with a nice steady and even flow offer the best opportunities. I set up in my first of three swims and cast a rig consisting of a 2oz lead and a piece of flavoured Spam mounted on a size 2 hook. I also moulded some homemade paste around the weight as an added attractor. About half hour passed when the rod pulled round twice and a barbel took off downstream. The fish was quickly brought under control and safely netted. It was a typical middle Severn barbel of just over 6lb.
A 6 pounder put in an appearance
With the fish returned I then decided to up sticks and try my other two spots. Both swims looked good but I was unable to tempt another bite so I returned back to the original fish producing swim. I fished on but it became apparent the swim was changing. The river had started to rise and my swim had now become a boily cauldron. This had the effect of either switching the barbel off or causing them to move, perhaps both. The day had almost come to an end so I opted for the lazy option of sitting it out in the forlorn hope that another fish might put in an appearance. With hindsight, I should have sought pastures new.

The following day saw me attempt a short session on a very high Warwickshire Avon. This was a nondescript session that resulted in a blank. The Avon had been quite high with it just falling short of bursting its banks. However, on this afternoon the river fell at an alarming rate, over a foot in just 90 minutes or so. Any sudden change to the river causes the fish to lose their appetite so given the conditions so I had to take the 'blank' on the chin.
A high Avon resulted in a quiet afternoon

The first 4 pounder
I returned on Friday to the same venue. The river was now just over a foot above normal, although still carrying a lot of colour. The temperature was 10.2°C, a very slight drop on the previous session so barbel were a definite contender, if they could be located. However, I also knew chub would come in to play. Although chub are not fans of highly coloured water on a rising river or at the peak of a flood, they do feed well as the river fines down towards its normal level. Again, a mobile approach was the order of the day and I didn't get a bite until my third swim. With Spam as bait the tip pulled round and a spirited battle resulted in a nice looking 4lb chub. I continued on my  journey along the deserted stretch when three swims later I found evidence of fish. I was too hasty on one strike as a chub played with the bait. I
This swim looked the part but failed to produce
obviously spooked the fish as interest faded so I moved on to my final peg. Instinct told me I would get a bite here so it was just a matter of patience. Ten minutes later and a positive pull led to another pristine chub of 4lb. This peg was a quagmire after the recent rain and high levels so I decided to walk back to where I caught earlier for the last hour of daylight. For 35 minutes the tip remained unmoved as my meat bait was ignored. It was then that I decided to change baits. Cheesepaste was the choice and the effect was quite spectacular. No sooner had the bait settled when it was aggressively picked up by another chub. The fish was much smaller, approaching a couple of pounds but it served as a reminder that a change of bait can work wonders.
Another nice chub on the bank
It was obvious that fish had been there all along but had not fancied the meat bait and were less suspicious of the underused cheesepaste option. So my session had Although it wasn't the most productive session fish wise, I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon down by the river since I have to admit there has not been much joy for the river angler this season. Chub have long been a favourite of mine so it was nice to find a few decent fish especially when I had the whole stretch to myself.

To end, it's been a year since I started this blog and in that time I have managed over 32,000 views so thank you for looking; it makes it worthwhile that someone, somewhere is taking notice. 


  1. Nice chub there Lee, I hear Salford is fishing quite well.


  2. Nice one mate. More holidays than Joan Collins though.