FIVE DAYS OF FRANTIC RIVER BARBEL ACTION
Despite low, clear water I catch well from the Severn and the Trent – on boilies!
THE Severn is getting lower by the day and with hot, dry weather predicted, catching fish is getting more and more difficult.
But with my local knowledge and because I’m willing to fish any time of the day I’m still catching my share.
Here’s how my week went...
Headed up to a new stretch of river to look at some swims for perch fishing in the winter. I’ve heard that the water also holds some 20lb-plus pike.
As I paddled the canoe I saw big perch all over the place attacking fry, and a few barbel rolling too. I fancy a few days from the canoe with lures in the winter when the river is low and clear – I think it could be very special in the middle reaches, with untapped fishing for several miles.
Took Neil Watkins from Wales and Macca Bradley on a guided day on the Severn at Bewdley. I had never met Neil, but Macca and I go back a few years from fishing and drinking in Ludlow.
We had a great day together with lots of banter about them being country bumpkins and me being a townie. In between the laughs the rods went over 16 times to the tune of 11 barbel, one chub and four fish lost in a snag we had to cast near to in order to get a take.
In the present clear conditions, some days the fish are not leaving the shelter of the snags, which make for very intense fishing and no room for looking anywhere but at the rod-tips!
Neil got his first take as he was looking at his feet. “You’ve got a take!” I shouted. “Which rod?” came the reply. “The one with the massive bend in it!” Macca nearly fell in the water with laughter and that’s how it was all day. Great fun!
My mate Ray Cutler picked me up at 9am for a trip to the Trent for a 24-hour session after barbel.
We were going to a new stretch that had produced some good fish in the past. The river was low and very clear and we expected daytime fishing to be very difficult. So it proved – we never even had a liner on our four rods until darkness fell. We were using boilies, and in the dark we could hear the odd barbel rolling in our swims.
We ended up with four, the best falling to my rod at 12.30 am at a very nice 10lb 10oz. The other fish were all around 7lb-8lb – a nice average. A barbel is a barbel. Let’s get away from this ‘what is your biggest?’ syndrome.
Some people think that if you have caught an 18lb barbel you are better than a guy whose biggest is 14lb. Where you fish has a big bearing on the size of barbel you can catch. You simply cannot catch an 18-pounder if there are none there and not everyone is like me, willing to travel anywhere to satisfy a huge ego!
When it got dark Ray cooked steak sandwiches and we swilled them down with a beer and a lovely glass of port, my cheeks red and warm.
After four fish in two hours it went quiet so we packed up and left at 10am after a fried breakfast
supplied by Raymondo. The Trent makes a nice change from the middle Severn. I must admit the thought of holding a 15lb-plus barbel excites us both a great deal!
What a day! I took out Dave and Daz from Yorkshire, who had never fished the Severn before. They caught barbel to 10lb and chub to 5lb 2oz, and we saw a goshawk flying overhead. It doesn’t get any better than that!
The fishing was slow to start with, when there was lots of foam on the water, but when it stopped the swim exploded into life, with the barbel taking the boilies as the rig hit the bottom. We ended up on the Bewdley stretch with Ray, and we showed the Yorkshire pair where to fish the next day.
Ray’s turn for a double, this time on the Warwickshire Avon with a 10lb 12oz barbel. We both fished until about 5pm, when I had to leave for a meeting, but Ray stayed on. When I left I said to Ray there would be a chance of a decent fish that night and about 30 minutes later he caught a fin-perfect double on straight lead and boilie.
On a lot of rivers, especially in low and clear conditions, fish are scared to death of the feeder!
You get a whole new perspective from a canoe.
A 10lb barbel and a goshawk for Daz. What a day!
The 10lb 10oz Trent barbel I caught after dark.