An angler's journal

An angler's journal

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

River Teme Barbel: They still exist

Much has been written about the demise of the River Teme during the past decade. Gone are the stories of multiple catches of the river's hard fighting barbel dubbed the 'Teme Tigers'. I must admit, I had given up on it and hadn't cast a line for a few years. So when a friend suggested he would give
Shallow rapids
the Teme a go for a few evening hours, it gave me the motivation to try again. However inconsistent the fishing, no one can doubt the picturesque nature of the Teme. Fast rapids run into deeper mysterious pools and glides. The banks are lined with overhanging trees and submerged branches. It's an angler's dream and although fish populations have undoubtedly dwindled you cannot help but dream about what might be lurking in the many fishy looking swims.

Paul was fishing upstream and to meet him I had to pass a swim that was one of my old favourites. It was the site of my last Teme barbel, which I reckon was getting on for 4-5 years ago. On that day, I had lowered a pellet hook bait with a small PVA bag the other side of a near bank snag. Nothing had happened for ages when out of the blue my rod was almost ripped from my grasp. A small barbel was the reward. Since then, a handful of visits resulted in chub or blanks.
A deeper glide

The temptation of the swim was too great to just simply walk past. Even if it was fishless, I had to cast a line for old time's sake. I lowered myself into position and threw a couple of handfuls of hemp and corn to drift towards the obvious feature. A few minutes later, several fish were feeding in earnest. The flash of flanks and the clouds of silt filled me with confidence. I could make out several chub and I am sure a barbel or two were amongst the feeding fish. Placing a hookbait into the swim would involve a cast and I knew that the fish would be easily spooked. In an ideal world I would have liked to have lowered a bait in quietly but I could not do this without giving away my presence. The rig was cast in as carefully as was possible but with that act the fish vanished. I persevered in the hope they might return but that opportunity had been blown.

I met up with my companion for the evening as we fished from one of the exposed gravel beach areas. However, the dark, deeper glide failed to produce a bite for either of us. With around 90 minutes until dark remaining, we decided to return to the swim where I had seen the fish. There was another swim just below where I stationed myself so we could still exchange the odd passing comment. I could see no evidence of fish but remained hopeful that they were tucked under the nearside snags and would venture out as some stage. Paul had a bit of chub interest that failed to materialise. I had tried trundling a piece of Spam down the main flow and then tried letting it settle in a deep hole upstream of my position. Each had failed to bear fruit. With time running out, I reverted to the tactic that has seen my last Teme barbel succumb. This time I used a Krill boilie. I didn't want to recast again and needed a bait that would stay put. A small PVA bag of pellets was added and the rig flicked into prime position. It was then a waiting game. I hoped that the lack of disturbance would finally see some fish move from their sanctuary. We had decided that we would call it a day at 10pm.
Not the best photo, but a Teme barbel all the same. 
With about 10 minutes remaining, the rod arched round. I was holding the rod so reacted quickly to prevent the fish finding the many underwater roots. A few runs had the drag pleasantly singing its tune but steady pressure meant the fish was quickly beaten. A barbel of around 4lb lay in the net. Not massive but a true survivor when many around it have perished. It was something of a moral victory for me. Faith restored if you like that the Teme may not be as barren as some would have you believe. Yes, it's still tough and a far cry from the 1990s but they are still there and maybe it won't be 4 years before I visit again.


  1. Beautiful read Lee, truly inspiring. Keep up the blogging.

  2. Crap pic!! We can't even see its you???

    1. Yes, it's a poor photo but I'll blame you for that ;)

  3. Thanks BM, nice to know you enjoyed it.

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  5. I'm doing some research on the Teme and there are at least 28 different barbel at Powick alone. Would be really interesting to hear from you about some of your previous catches if you wouldn't mind sharing, email: - Cheers, Catie