Des Taylor’s Diary of a Countryman
I’m not superstitious, but soon after getting mine I bag a near-5lb chub
SUDDENLY the mornings have changed. There’s a slight chill in the air and leaves are falling on to the river. Autumn is almost with us.
But this is a great time to go fishing. Waterside plants are dying off, which makes it easier to get down to swims, and fish are feeding well in preparation for the winter ahead.
It’s a shame so many anglers pack their gear up now until spring because without doubt between now and Christmas there is some great fishing to be had – and I’m certainly going to get my share!
Tried some new swims for my customers and after a few hours I got into some lovely-conditioned barbel that looked as if they had never been caught before. They fought like tigers too.
No monsters, but where I fished is slow-flowing and deep, with silty areas that should be rich with food, so I expect the odd double.
The river looked perfect for a guide day with James Hargreaves and Andy Dalgarno on the Severn north of Bewdley.
So it proved. Barbel nearly dragged the rods off the rest and fought hard in the well oxygenated water. But the river is constantly changing and always throws up surprises.
The surprise today came in the shape of a 2lb 1oz roach that Andy caught on a 14mm boilie, 12lb line and size 10 hook! I have seen and caught bigger roach, but never in my life have I seen a better looking specimen. It was scale and fin perfect, and a credit to the river.
It’s time that anglers in the area start thinking of roach again this winter because that is not the first 2lb roach I have heard of being caught on boilies or pellets.
For years now, roach and other species have been eating them but have hardly ever been caught on the rather crude tackle the barbel lads use.
With a bit of ‘fine tuning’ in the winter months I think the Severn will spring a few roach surprises. The main reason I moved to Bewdley 33 years ago now was for the roach fishing, and I had a lot of fish over 2lb, but for the last 10 years I have hardly cast a rod for them. That needs to change!
It was a pleasure to take two ‘barbel virgins’ on the river – James and his fiancée Abi. They were not virgins for long, as both caught barbel, the best at 9lb 2oz to James, although Abi did stop the rod going in from the take!
Barbel are easy to catch and fight like hell. Even a small one of 6lb is a big fish to most anglers, so everyone is a winner, and most anglers that try it get hooked and go out on the river to do it by themselves.
It was great to hear Abi say: “My god, I can’t turn the reel handle!” as a barbel sped off downriver.
My mate Ray Cutler and I spent time up the river talking to a nice guy on our stretch. Pete Hendon had won a competition on Facebook to fish the water.
He had not fished the river for 10 years, but he caught 10 barbel to 9lb-plus. He said he’d forgotten how good river fishing was and would be doing more of it in the future. It’s just a matter of getting anglers on the river and reminding them what they are missing!
Ray Cutler and I headed upriver for a pleasure fishing session with small boilies. It was all going swimmingly until an hour in, when two otters appeared. They seemed to be fighting, one behaving very aggressively to the other, and after they had cleared off the whole area was dead. We managed four barbel and a couple of chub between us from some of the best swims on the whole river.
It was strange that I was having no bites at all until Dean Whitehead turned up. You may recall that Dean is the father of young Charlie, who I took fishing a few weeks ago. Well, Charlie had sent his dad with a present for me in the form of a barbel badge. I put it on my hat and straight away I was into a chub just short of 5lb.
The badge also brought back memories of Barbel Bill, an elderly gent from Peterborough who’d brought the same type of badge with him and could only put it on his hat when he’d caught a barbel.
In the end I think he caught eight and went home a happy man.
Certainly those barbel badges are magic for getting you a fish, no matter what species happens to pick up your bait!
I caught this near-5lb chub soon after pinning my barbel badge to my hat. Thanks Charlie! Misty-morning barbel from a new area. Autumn is on its way.
Andy Dalgarno’s 2lb 1oz roach… on a 14mm boilie!