An angler's journal

Sunday, 31 May 2015

The declining Teme and a Linear blank

So another break from work comes to an end. I finished off the week with a walk along a BAA stretch of the Teme and a trip to Linear Fisheries for tench.

The Teme is a majestic river that ebbs and flows from Wales, through Worcestershire to the meet the mighty Severn. It WAS once renowned for its hard fighting barbel dubbed the 'Teme Tigers'. Sadly
If only it contained barbel
however, the last few years has seen a sharp decline in barbel catches. The banks are deserted and those that still persevere only have hard luck stories to tell. My last Teme barbel came during the summer of the 2011/12 season. During the following season, I didn't even see a barbel let alone catch one and my walk was my first visit since then. It was a bright day ideal for fish spotting and I hoped to see signs of a recovering river. First stop was to visit a downstream swim that used to be home to a shoal of resident barbel. When the river was clear, it was a super spot to observe the fish and the overhanging trees on the near bank provided a safe haven for both barbel and chub. You can imagine my surprise and disappointment that those very trees had been hacked down so that only a few branches remained. Of course, there were no longer any signs of fish. It was pretty devastating really. Why did these trees need cutting away? The river is not navigable, not that they would have interfered anyway. On a river that has suffered from water abstraction and otters, taking away the security of these trees only compounds matters. On a brighter note, the Teme still looked its
magnificent self. Shallow runs glistened in the sunshine before dropping away into dark mysterious glides. Jagged bed rock reached into the river and along with debris from previous floods there appeared to be plenty of places the once resident barbel and chub could be hidden away.
Otter prints
Unfortunately, the reality is that I only managed to see three solitary chub, the biggest a few pounds. Even when the barbel started to decline, the chub were present in numbers and seeing group of several fish was not unusual. My conclusion of the visit is that the Teme is a long way away from the river of just 5 years ago let alone the halcyon days of the 90s. The otter tracks I photographed no doubt give some credence to the fact that their reintroduction has had a detrimental effect on the fish populations. I will try and make a visit or two during the summer for sentimental reasons more than in the hope of a barbel. It is a little depressing but there are few better places to while away a few hours on a summer evening than the Teme valley. You never know - there may still be a barbel or two lurking in the hidden depths!

Friday saw me attempting to land a tench or two. The Midlands has very few tench options so a trip to Linear Fisheries in Oxfordshire seemed as good a place as any. Famed for its large carp, the waters also contain specimen tench among other species. Upon arrival, the banks were adorned with bivvies accompanied by an array of expensive equipment. Hidden away in their shelters, there were very few
An uneventful Manor Farm lake
people to be seen. This is not my scene and I must admit to feeling a little out of place as I searched for a peg whilst being able to carry all my belongings without the need for a barrow. I settled on a peg on a lake called Smiths. This contains tench to over 10lb and with a strong SW wind blowing towards me it seemed as good a place as any. By now, anglers were arriving armed with buckets. It then became apparent that the bucket is an important item at Linear as it enables one to secure a peg. By placing a bucket in a likely looking spot, you can prevent anyone else stealing it. The bucket however does need to sport a camouflaged design for this to work effectively. Anyway, to cut a long story short the fishing was hopeless. My swim was choked with weed. I cast around for ages to find a clear spot but couldn't. I fished in vain for a couple of hours before losing confidence and moving to Manor Farm lake. Here the bottom was much cleaner but only one swim remained. I gave it a go for the remainder of the session but it was located on the back of the wind and to be honest there wasn't a fish in sight. So a big fat blank ensued. So much for a big tench! By 4pm, I'd had enough so I packed up and took pride in being able to do so with only one trip to the car required. Roll on the 16th.

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