Des Taylor’s Di­ary of a Coun­try­man

Stun­ning wildlife and lots of bites – there’s never a dull mo­ment on the bank

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME -

WHAT an in­ter­est­ing time of year it is to be out on the river­bank!

In the morn­ings young tawny owls are ac­tive and vo­cal while they es­tab­lish their ter­ri­to­ries and I don’t think I have ever heard so many as I have this year.

The fal­low deer up at Coal­port are rut­ting, and the im­pres­sive sound they make echoes down the val­ley. As I left the river one day this week a pheasant shoot was go­ing on and I pulled in to watch the beat­ers and their dogs ex­pertly scare the birds into the sky. On the way home I stopped in a lo­cal pub to see a friend that had also been shoot­ing pheas­ants, and I picked up a brace for the pot along with a rab­bit, des­tined for the same.

The bond be­tween game­keep­ers, shoot­ers, farm­ers and an­glers is what the coun­try­side is all about for me and I hope it stays that way.

On to the fish­ing. Well, it’s been dif­fi­cult be­cause of leaves fall­ing off the trees into the water and snag­ging the line, but if you don’t mind reel­ing in to re­move them ev­ery 10 min­utes and re­cast­ing, you’ll be in with a great chance of a de­cent bar­bel or two! I have caught bar­bel the two times I have fished re­cently at the back of my house on the Dud­ley wa­ters. One of the ses­sions was in fast water and the fish fought like tigers, mak­ing it even more en­joy­able. Here’s how my week went…


I took Kev He­witt from Mil­ton Keynes up to the Sev­ern at Coal­port on the Row­ley DAS water to catch a few bar­bel. Kev said he would love to catch a Sev­ern ‘dou­ble’ but I ex­plained that even to­day a bar­bel over 10lb from the mid­dle Sev­ern is a rare fish.

How­ever, after putting him in a very good peg and telling him the pit­falls of the swim, he cast in and eight hours later had caught bar­bel of 8lb 8oz, 8lb 13oz and a cracker of 10lb 15oz - a fish that took him way down­stream on the first run and then hung deep for the rest of the fight.

Kev was up to the task and as the photo shows he landed a truly wild river fish in great con­di­tion. Well done mate!

In the evening I went down to the river on my own and caught five bar­bel to about 8lb in two hours, as well as a cou­ple of 3lb chub. All the fish were caught on the straight lead, with a six foot hook­length and a boilie on the hair.


On the Dud­ley wa­ters again, this time just on dawn, for two bar­bel, but it was windy with lots of leaves com­ing down. It al­ways hap­pens at this time of year so you just live with it and carry on.

Most bar­bel an­glers fish in the evening and into dark, but be in no doubt, to catch a wary old fish try the morn­ing; you will be sur­prised how well they feed at that time of day. I know this will sound strange but I like it very bright with the sun com­ing over the trees. I think this al­most forces the bar­bel to feed be­fore the sun penetrates the water any deeper. On dull and over­cast days you never seem to get that in­tense short feed­ing spell in the morn­ing.


Met up with Paul Walker from Tas­ma­nia in the evening. Paul was a friend from years ago in the days of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Spec­i­men Groups, and I hadn’t seen him for over 35 years.

We’d been in touch on Face­book for two years and he told me he was vis­it­ing Eng­land this month so I sug­gested meet­ing up and hav­ing a day on the river.

We met in the pub and talked for hours about the ‘old days’ be­fore hair rigs, bait boats and

un­der­wa­ter cam­eras... days when but­ter was 10p a pound! We drank good English bit­ter and fol­lowed it up with a whiskey or two. A great evening fol­lowed by an early night as we were go­ing bar­bel fish­ing the next day!


After an early start, Paul and I were walk­ing down to the river at day­break. He kept him­self busy tak­ing pho­tos of the Shropshire coun­try­side as I tack­led up. I baited a peg for him for about an hour be­fore suggest­ing he cast in.

His big­gest bar­bel was a 2lb’er from the Trent 40 years ago, so you can imag­ine the look on his face when first cast his rod bent dou­ble as an 8lb 6oz fish headed down­stream at 100 miles an hour!

“Job done! I can go home now with a great mem­ory of English river fish­ing!” he said after land­ing the fish, but there was more to come with an­other three bar­bel landed. Paul did well con­sid­er­ing for years he has fished with light fly rods for brown­ies on the rivers of Tas­ma­nia!

While we were wait­ing for a take, we looked at trout flies that Paul had brought over as a present for me which I will put in my spe­cial cab­i­net in the front room - it seems a shame to use them.

In the evening I in­tro­duced Paul to my mate Ray Cut­ler and we talked again for hours over a few pints of bit­ter.

Paul in­spired me to make a visit in the next cou­ple of years to Tas­ma­nia. He spoke of see­ing duck­billed platy­pus in the water while fish­ing, kan­ga­roos on ev­ery cor­ner and catch­ing big brown trout in crys­tal-clear wa­ters on a dry fly. We parted that evening and promised that the next time we saw each other would be on a river some­where down un­der. This time he could show me the ropes!

Re­turn­ing one of my fish from this week. It’s a great time of year to be on the river.

Paul Walker presents me with a box of Tas­ma­nian flies.

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