An angler's journal

An angler's journal

Wednesday, 26 July 2023

Is the Teme back in business?

In my last blog, I mentioned the Teme was in my thoughts. My last barbel from the river was exactly 6 years ago, a small fish of a few pounds that came at last light. I've visited most seasons since once or twice each summer to keep tabs on progress. There had been little to report with blanks or chub the usual result. 

Many will know that the Teme was once a prolific barbel river with multiple catches normal. Then the demise set in. Much has been written as to what the cause was with major flooding, otters, over extraction and pollution all blamed. To be honest, they have probably all contributed in some part. The outcome however could not be disputed. There have been far fewer barbel in the river in the last 15 years than before. 

So, my latest visit beckoned. I had been ill recently and not really up to speed with things. I knew we had seen a weekend of rain that had ruled out the test match but it had made little impact on the Avon so assumed there would be little effect on the Teme as well. On arrival, I saw the river was coloured. It was up but not by a great amount. If I had anticipated these conditions then I'd have gone with a meat approach. As it was, I had to adapt. I saw a swim that I'd never fished before. In normal conditions, I'd just keep walking. In these conditions it looked too good to ignore. A smooth, steady glide. I settled into the swim and decided to bait with one and a half boilies on a size 8 hook and a PVA bag of crushed boilie and pellets. In summer, coloured water usually means barbel will be quick to the bait if they are present. They also don't mind moving so I was hoping the scent trail would pull any nearby fish in and onto my hookbait. I cast and sat back to take in the tranquil surroundings. The Teme valley is beautiful and if you have never visited before then I'd recommend it. It's part of the reason I've continued to visit even though the fishing has been less than successful in recent years. It's a river that has very little interference from humans. Trees have fallen into the river and been left there, the banks are wild as the river runs over shallow gravels and into deeper pools.  

A first Teme Tiger since 2016
Back to the fishing and I was about ten minutes in when to my surprise the rod wrapped round and I was into a fish. Was it a barbel or a stubborn chub? The longer the battle went on then the more optimistic I became. A sudden run confirmed a barbel was definitely the culprit. It was safely netted and looked around 6lb. What a cracking start. After all those years, it had taken ten minutes to succeed where I had failed before. 

I decided to have another cast to see if this was just a lone fish and I'd got lucky or whether the conditions had seen a few congregate in the swim. I attached another PVA bag and cast to the same spot.

A second barbel in as many casts

Again, the bait had not been out too long when I was connected to another spirited Teme Tiger. This fish put up a determined resistance, one that its predecessors had made the river famous for, but it was a little smaller than the first. I had been fishing for less than half an hour, made two casts and now had two barbel for my efforts. I was in total surprise. 

Catching two fish so quickly made me decide to give the swim a rest so the fish could regain some confidence and maybe even see something larger move in. I went for a walk to check out some possible swims and then returned and deposited some hemp and pellet into the swim with a bait dropper. I then took my essentials to try another spot. The next swim gave me some twitches but it wasn't really deep enough to give me huge confidence. By the time I returned to my original spot, an hour had past since the second barbel. Out went the same bait and a small PVA bag and you've guessed it, another bite and

The biggest of the three barbel
another barbel. It was larger too, probably 7lb or so. Another cast saw another rod bending bite but this time a chub was the result. The chub signaled a halt to the frenzy and for the first time, the fishing was quiet. I decided that I'd deposit some more bait into the swim and try another spot. The new spot was very different but my options were limited by steep banks that were now wet following an earlier shower and also overgrown. I settled for 40 mins or so but there was nothing to report and it saw me return to the original swim at around 8.30pm. The river had dropped quite quickly, about 6 inches judging by the lines on the trees. This had certainly switched the chub on and a few had been crashing on the surface. It seemed to have the opposite effect on the barbel who had now appeared to have gone into hiding. As the sun finally dipped below the horizon, I was hoping for one more bite. It did arrive, another slam on the rod tip but the level of resistance told me it wasn't the big barbel I had hoped for. Another chub was added and with it I decided to call it a day. 

It had been a really rewarding session, my best on the river for many a year. The barbel were not huge by barbel standards but they didn't need to be. They provided me with as much satisfaction as the 12 pounder I caught last week off the Avon. They also gave me huge encouragement that the Teme is recovering. It may never return to the 1990s numbers but I believe that you can now visit with optimism and it will hopefully keep getting better. 


  1. Great to hear of the Teme recovering, social media posts relating to the upturn in Barbel numbers seem to be increasing with a few doubles also making an appearance, I have a BAA book and will hopefully make a visit or two this autumn if the time allows.

    Good luck when you do head back out!

    1. Yes, definitely worth a visit. I'm sure it's still very peggy but the roving approach looks like it can throw up some fish these days.