Des Taylor’s Diary of a Countryman
Severn barbel sport comes to a halt when this tide of filth is flowing down
THE Severn is now low and clear and, for most anglers, catching fish is getting harder by the minute.
I am still doing well by fishing a little differently from the rest, and my customers and I are taking lots of chub and barbel. The good news is, the river is full of fry, which is great for future sport.
Here’s how my week went…
Went chub fishing on a little river but struggled because the water was so low. I fished my own cheese paste and took four small ones to about 2lb.
I had to travel for about an hour to get there, and when I did arrive it was a nightmare. The banks were so overgrown I don’t think anyone else had been on there this year, never mind this season!
Is it me, or are there more and more nettles on riverbanks these days? Some are as tall as I am, and they sting like hell! I’m just glad I didn’t go in my shorts – that would have been really painful!
Two brothers from Kent, James and Paul Thomsett, had never caught a barbel so they booked a guiding day with me to see if I could put that right.
My ‘bait-and-wait’ tactics paid off again and they had six barbel and three chub. On a very clear river with the sun high in the sky that was a right result. As you can see from the photo, they enjoyed filming on a day I think they will remember for a long time.
Until about 10 years ago I don’t think I could have guided anglers to fish the way I do now, because I still wanted to catch everything myself. These days I have reached the point when I think I can spare time to introduce others to the delights of river fishing.
I hope this will be my enduring legacy – that at a time when lots of anglers are moaning about poor river fishing I am showing them that running water is still the place to be.
I spent a few hours on my own, fishing into dark, and after a very slow start I caned them! I had nine barbel and a chub, which came right at the death when the barbel had stopped feeding, allowing the smaller fish to get to my homemade boilie.
Among river fish, only bream can compete with the barbel when they are in a feeding mood.
Dace, roach and chub all have to wait their turn till the barbel have had their fill or you have scared them off! I got back home at about 1am and poured myself a double Jameson Irish whiskey, a birthday present from a dear friend, and sat there with a rather big grin on my face.
Another evening’s fishing, this time on a different river but again after barbel. I caught a few fish, and good ones at that. My ‘bait-and-wait’ tactics are paying off everywhere I fish.
Most anglers make their first cast well before the fish have gained in confidence. Sometimes it’s better to leave the rods out of the water and in the rests, rather than in the swim. So many anglers think that it’s the tackle they are using that will catch them fish, but what makes a good angler is not tackle but the way he feeds!
The problem is, you can’t teach anglers how to feed because it changes each session, often by the hour. It’s something that comes with experience, and I’m afraid you can’t buy that in a tin!
Another guiding day, but after four hours without a single line bite I cancelled the trip and made arrangements for another time.
If the anglers fish badly that’s one thing, but the dreaded foam
was on the water, the river was dead and the two lads didn’t stand a chance, so it was only fair to give them another crack at it.
This is the foam that has been wrecking fishing on the Severn for three years now, and nothing is being done about it.
I know some of it is coming from water treatment plants along the river and I also know that some of it is coming from the back-street car washes that flush detergent and acid for washing wheels and bodywork straight down the drains and into the river.
Thousands of anglers support these cheap car washes and don’t realise the damage they are doing to our fishing.
I walked up the river and spoke to five anglers, but I knew what they would say before I even asked: “Not a touch, Des.”
This is the time of year our river species should be feeding up, yet there are many days like this on the Severn when they do not eat for 12 hours or more.
Where are the Angling Trust and EA? I’ll tell you what they say: “Des, can you phone when you see it and make out a report of days and dates when it happened?”
Sorry folks, you lot get paid good money to know when pollution is regularly entering our river, and it’s your job to get off your backsides and stop it!
Three years this has been going on, and not a thing is being done about the foam that ruins our sport – what a joke!
Got my gear ready for a few days away with my mate Ray Cutler.
We take our own gear, but I look after the bait and Ray looks after the grub – hope he remembers the Cornish cracker cheese from Marks and Spencer, my all-time favourite!
Just one of the many barbel I have caught this season on my ‘bait-and-wait’ tactics’, with a boilie on the hair.
James and Paul Thomsett enjoyed filming their session with me.