An angler's journal

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Summer Barbel - A plan comes together

It was the last day of July and I had yet to bank a barbel. It's been a really bitty start to the season for me so far and I was keen to make up for lost time. I decided that the middle Severn was as good a location as any so off I went to a familiar stretch that I used to visit regularly. The hour drive means I now only make a couple of trips a season but there's few places better in the UK to find a barbel or two.

With the recent weather leaving most rivers running low and clear, my first decision was to pick a swim. Would they be in the more oxygenated, streamier stretches or seeking sanctuary in the deeper, darker glides? I opted for the latter and picked a swim that has thrown up fish in the past and offered about 8ft of water. I used a baitdropper to deposit a couple of pints of hemp with some pellets just shy of half way and then feeder fished over the top with a pellet hookbait. Two hours later and I had nothing to report. The time was almost 7pm and I had to make a decision. Do I stick or twist? I went for a walk upstream and found what I believed would offer me an improved chance of a barbel. The water here was moving faster as a result of some rapids about 100m upstream. However, it still offered some depth although there were some risky looking rocks on the nearside. My mind was made up so I returned, gathered my belongings and made my way to the new spot ready to see what the last couple of hours had in store.
The sunlight fades on the middle Severn
Because I was sure barbel would be resident somewhere in the vicinity, I decided to build the swim up with the feeder ensuring I recast every 5 minutes or so. I also set up my second rod, baited with one of my new boilies and cast this upstream with a PVA bag. About half hour later and the upstream rod nodded before dropping back. I reeled in frantically to catch up with the fish which kited downstream rapidly.
First barbel of the season
With the rocks nearby I had to ensure I maintained steady pressure on the fish. After a spirited battle, a barbel of a few pounds was netted to get my barbel tally up and running. Soon after, the same rod saw another fish moving downstream sending the tip bouncing. This fish was larger and made some exhilarating runs in the shallow water near the bankside. This barbel was a typical middle Severn fish of around 6lb. Meanwhile, I had been continuing to recast the feeder setup but the pellet bait had not resulted in anything other than the odd tap. With both fish coming to boilie, I decided to switch baits. It paid off as the rod banged round and another Severn barbel was on it's way to the net. I did hook another fish on the upstream rod but unfortunately the hook pulled. This was the last of the action as light turned to dusk and then to dark.
A better stamp of fish
I had set out intending to catch barbel so to manage three (almost four) was a real result. It was made even more satisfying by making the decision to move. It can be all too easy to stick in the same spot, especially when you have invested a lot of bait, but I am certain that on this occasion the move paid off. It's great when a plan comes together.

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