An angler's journal

An angler's journal

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Perseverance pays off

The lower Severn can be something of an enigma. A huge expanse of water that doesn't give up its secrets too easily. I have not had a really good go at Barbel this season for a variety of reasons but with autumn upon us I felt compelled to give the 'lower' every opportunity to reward my enthusiasm. I fished three evening sessions over the space of the week and unsurprisingly it wasn't plain sailing.

Session 1

I arrived last Sunday around 3.30pm to a stale looking river. Like rivers all over the country, the Severn was in desperate need of rain. However, fish still need to eat so as far as I was concerned I had a chance. My plan was to deposit some bait into a swim, then fish for Zander for a while before settling down for a couple of hours into dark. The first part of my plan went well. I fished a standard float set up with a dead roach mounted onto a homemade trace sporting a size 2 barbless hook. After around 20 minutes, the float started to move downstream with purpose before disappearing.  A few turns of the reel and a strike connected me with my quarry. It was only a small Zander of a few pounds but it saved a blank and meant I could target Barbel without worrying about going home empty handed. Unfortunately, the second part of my plan, well, didn't go to plan. There was little activity until around 7.45pm when the rod tip showed a series of indications but none were positive enough to warrant action. Then twenty minutes later all activity ceased. By 8.30pm I had decided to call it quits and return later in the week. 

Session 2

I returned on Friday to be presented with a completely different river. Gone had the stale slow moving Severn to be replaced with a beautifully coloured Severn with a nice flow. It looked very promising and the air temperature was unseasonlly mild. I fished two rods - the downstream rod was a simple running ledger set up baited with meat. The upstream rod was an identical rig except it was baited with a boilie and cast over a modest bed of bait. I had one reservation and I am sure it contributed to what happened, or didn't happen over the next few hours. With the influx of water it was bound to knock the river's temperature. Whilst it would still be in the range that Barbel feed, a sudden drop often knocks your chances, and so it did. Despite a great looking river, the rod tips remained montionless from 6pm until 10pm when I called it a day. I wasn't too despondent though since I was sure the Barbel would find my bait and that once temperatures stabilised they would be catchable and hopefully in the area looking for more. Therefore, I vowed to return 48 hours later. There was one highlight however. A tawny owl, seemingly oblivious to my presence, was on the hunt just above my rods. Had I not been looking I would have had no idea it was there such was the silent movement of its wings. It even returned moments later for another survey of the bankside vegetation. It was a real treat.

Session 3

The Severn still looked very fishy when I arrived at 4.30pm on Sunday. It had crossed my mind to stay at home and watch the England game but instead both rods were cast out as the match kicked off on my radio. My tactics were identical to the previous session. A temperature check showed the river was 10.5°C which was encouraging as I am sure the last few days would have given the fish a chance to acclimatise to any recent drops. Almost immediately there were tell tale signs that fish were present in my swim. In fact I felt it was almost inevitable that a bite would result at any moment. Despite some sharp snatches nothing positive occurred and as dusk arrived the swim had gone dead. I have to admit my confidence had started to wane as dark always offers the best chances but all signs of fish had disappeared. Then, just before 7.30pm and completely out of the blue, the downstream rod was away. The fish felt good. There were no rip roaring runs; instead the fish stubbornly held station. Over the next few minutes I was able to inch it up river before I was finally able to draw it over the waiting net. I was convinced my first lower Severn Barbel of the season was a double as it looked a very stocky fish but the scales showed 9lb 13oz, not that the weight is all that important. More important to me was the fact I had managed to hook and land a Barbel after dedicating three sessions to them. It was a fantastic looking fish that I'm sure will be over 10lb if our paths cross again between now and the season's end. I gave it another hour but with no more bites forthcoming, I left the Severn safe in the knowledge that I'd been right in not staying home to watch England.
The reward for perseverance: 9lb 13oz


  1. Tell you what mate, watching you blank is better than watching Ingerland these days. Congrats on sticking at it.

    Mother hen

  2. Indeed. I certainly made the right choice.