March Blog- Goodbye rivers, hello stills

Danesford 13.03.18

Well what a month March has been… and for all the wrong reasons! First there was the spiteful ‘Beast from the East’ to contend with, bringing prolonged sub-zero temperatures and significant snowfall, then after eventually petering out it left a legacy of snow melt that detrimentally affected the rivers, potentially right up to the end of the season on the 14th of March.

For me this end of season ‘last fling’ has become something of a tradition, a treasured week when the rivers have usually warmed up, and the days have lengthened sufficiently to stir the Barbel from their winter lethargy. It is a time I, like many river men, book a few days off work and have a final attempt to catch a Barbel or two before the season finishes, however this years trip was in serious jeopardy as my chosen river, the mighty Severn, looked set to breach its banks .

The consequence of all this was icy water temperatures and volatile levels, which made for very hard fishing. Many experienced lads just hung up their Barbel gear until next season but I still clung tenaciously onto the forlorn hope that the rivers would come good for me for the last knockings of the season.

As if this aggressive weather front wasn’t enough, yet another nasty weather pattern arrived soon after the rivers closed, named the ‘Mini-Beast’; it caught me by surprise arriving almost without fanfare, yet bringing another coating of quite severe snow-fall. Fortunately this was just after the rivers had closed so it didn’t feel as bad as the original ‘Beast’, but it still had a negative effect on my enthusiasm for the transition to the stillwaters.

09.03.18 River Dane

Once again I have the river Dane to thank for providing some sustenance during this Baltic blast. I have had just two blanks on this lovely little river all winter, once with bank high snow melt and the other at the peak of the big freeze (and if I’d had my wits about me I wouldn’t have blanked that day either because I lost a fish off the hook…Doh!).

I target winter chub on the simplest of set-ups using nothing but bread and cheesepaste for bait, and so far they have been very obliging. Despite the cold bright conditions and extra coloured water the river was carrying, today was no different as I managed to extract 5 fish, all 3-4lb+.

3lb12oz Dane Manor 09.03.18

From the 6 swims I tried 4 produced a fish, and I think mobility is the key in order to find where the fish are located; often they can be in the most unlikely looking of swims. The chub were feisty and generally in lovely condition, but anybody going there expecting record breakers will be disappointed, a 4lb fish is a decent specimen.

4lb Dane Manor 09.03.18
Typical Dane Chub, a worthy adversary on light tackle!

 

The stretch is not overcrowded and I usually have it to myself which suits this style of nomadic fishing, but today I bumped into an old mate and sometime Dane regular Graham. I spent a very interesting and enjoyable hour chatting, and if I’m honest, being educated, because this lad knows his onions when it comes to Barbel fishing on small rivers; we discussed everything from home-made paste to centre pins. He was determined to catch a Barbel but I had convinced myself there was no chance, so I left him near dusk and managed my fifth and final Chub from my 6th swim before heading home.

Season Finale on the Middle Severn

As mentioned in the introduction, traditionally I spend the last few days of the river season down on the mighty Severn but the conditions and forecast almost put me off this year; levels were close to breaching the banks and the temperatures hadn’t recovered enough to instill confidence. In the end I was glad I went; a nice social with a mate the first 2 days, then on my own for the remains of the season, fishing venues between Shrewsbury and Bridgnorth where I was based.

11.03.18 Club water- Middle Severn

Cressage 11.03.18

The first day I travelled from south Manchester with hope in my heart to my destination a few miles downstream of Shrewsbury. As I arrived just after dawn to meet up with my mate, I was surprised to see snowdrifts still in evidence, but not so surprised to peer through the mist and see water almost at the top of the bank; a temp of 5C didn’t bode well either but we both worked hard in likely looking swims and in the end managed a brace each, my mate had an 8 and a 7 and I managed a 5 plus a splasher to finish. Lobworms proved the most effective bait and I was glad I’d had the foresight to secure some before setting off.

 

7lb Cressage
Even a tiddler felt like a result that day!

 

Under the circumstances I was satisfied with the return but I was really hoping the level would fall and temperature rise over the coming days, which in hindsight turned out to be just wishful thinking.

kriston fish
Kris’s best fish

 

12.03.18 Club water- Middle Severn

A good night in the pub followed by a substantial kebab seemed like a good idea at the time, but left me feeling a bit jaded for the Wetherspoons brecky the next morning, I could only manage the traditional, not the large so definitely below my best. Nevertheless I polished it off and felt better, and we were soon back on the bank and raring to go.

If anything the river had risen even higher overnight, but on a positive note the water temp had also risen slightly to 6C. Neither of us were familiar with our chosen venue with water at this level, so we walked it first to asses if it was even fishable. I was pleased to find a couple of near-bank slacks that looked reasonable and I thought they might at least give us a chance of a fish; one in particular really looked the part. We both wanted it so a coin toss settled the issue in favour of my mate and I wandered off dejectedly to do my best elsewhere.

20180312_101438
There’s a river in there somewhere

 

The problem with fishing bank high rivers on unfamiliar stretches is that you don’t know what lies below; I found out after working hard for a bite in a couple of swims for several hours, and when it finally came the fish found some submerged feature to lodge itself in. I count myself fortunate that after giving it slack line it decided to swim out and I manged to land it. It was just a splasher and the reality was that I would have surely lost anything more substantial. My mate was due to leave early so I jumped into his vacated swim purely because the swim was relatively snag free. He had caught one around 7lb, which was also encouraging.

I fished feeder upstream with pellet on the hair, and straight lead downstream with double lob worm, but I wasn’t getting any action. I decided to stick it out to the finish as the swim certainly looked good, but the lack of indications hardly filled me with confidence. Consequently I was caught napping by a rattling knock on the worm rod which had me jumping off my chair, but it didn’t develop any further. After a few minutes with hand hovering over the rod handle I decided to move the bait slightly to see if the fish could be tempted to bite; I drew the lead just a couple of inches then put the rod back on the rest and immediately it yanked over and battle commenced. Battle is an apt description as the fish fought like an athletic 7lb’er but with far more substantial weight behind it, using the enormous volume of water to its advantage and charging towards downstream trees. I was very relieved to turn it and get into the slack in front of me, but disaster struck and it found a snag and was stuck fast. I gave slack line and waited until I felt a few tugs, tightened down and was relieved it drew free. Just the last couple of lunges and it was in the net!

As it rested there in the murky water I could see it was a good long fish, but it was a bit thin, so when the scales registered 10lb14oz I was more than happy; a new middle Severn PB for me when I really didn’t fancy my chances, can’t be bad!

 

IMG_0755_cropped
New Mid Severn PB

 

I still had the scales in my hand when I heard the sweet sound of the bait-runner screaming on the other rod, after all that time without a bite a double hook-up…you couldn’t make it up!! Priority was the fish on the bank so I jammed the landing net into the bank and ensured the fish was in good deep water and that it had righted itself before I pounced on the other rod and wound down to feel another substantial fish; sadly there was to be no happy outcome to this tale as after 30 intense seconds frantically turning the fish away from snags real and imagined, and with the fish just yards in front of me the hook pulled and the battle was lost. I have had exactly the same experience before on the Ribble with a double hook up, the fish left to roam while prioritizing the fish on the bank has time to loosen the hookhold and somehow sheds the hook close to the net. It’s an absolute gut wrencher, but in this case my disappointment was mitigated by the fish still resting in the landing net and I didn’t shed too many tears over my loss.

Once I had stopped shaking I continued to fish on feeling rather smug with myself, until once again the lob-worm proved to much to resist for another nicely conditioned Barbel of exactly 9lb, this one was as fat as butter; it put up a decent account of itself but nothing like the previous specimen. Soon it was in the net and a nice looking fish it was.

9lb0oz Cound 12.03.18
9lb on the nose

 

That concluded the action for the day but I was still a very happy lad driving back to my digs, making plans to re-acquaint myself with the hospitality of the ale houses of Bridgnorth.

13.03.18 Danery

I have never done particularly well on here but I know a couple of decent flood swims and I had the pick of them when I arrived to an empty carpark. I chose the nearest swim, not because I am a lazy git but it looked so good with a completely still margin that dropped rapidly to 12ft depth just a couple of yards out from the bank. The crease was about 5m out so I placed both baits on this line and hoped for the best. Upstream was a feeder with some oily groundbait and pellet, downstream was a lump of flavoured meat to start, which I soon changed to lobworm.

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It was slow going, neither rod picked up debris so I sat watching motionless tips. Even the lobworms failed to impress, so I wound in and had a wander along the length. I realised just how high the river was as I recalled fishing here last summer at normal levels. The whole nature of the swims change as the levels fluctuate; some become better, some worse, but isn’t it refreshing to have to rise to the challenge and read the conditions in order to catch your quarry?

I still thought my current swim had the right features so I stuck at it and finally the worm rod arced over and a splasher was in the bag. Two more similar sized fish followed during the evening and I decided to call it quits just before dark, but not before I had an inspiring chat with a departing local lad who had been a few hundred yards downstream; he told me about his technique of float fishing meat in the summer and the effectiveness over the standard pellet feeder approach…very much food for thought for the summer.

danesford splasher
Small but welcome

 

14.03.18 Club water, Mid Severn

The last fanfare of the season, always a sad day but one that has to be grasped and every last second of opportunity wrung out of it. I was heading for home and I am fortunate to have many waters to choose from in that general direction, however I just couldn’t resist having another go on the length I had my double from.

I had it to myself and grabbed the same peg and set up exactly the same as last time, but there was a subtle change to the flow. I checked the marker I had used last time and it was around 6″ lower and as the day wore on it began to drop quickly. It still looked great so I was confident of some action and I didn’t have long to wait as the downstream lobworm proved irresistible to a feisty 7lb’er.

7lb Cound 14.03.18
Athletic 7lb’er, tackle tester in a snaggy flood swim

 

That proved to be the pinnacle of the day; five more Barbel landed but all 4-6lb in weight. The water temp was still 6C but the river fining off was the catalyst for a fairly lively afternoon of improving sport.

I had mixed feelings about how the trip went, the conditions are usually much better at the tail end of the season so I had to be happy to have nabbed a few. Obviously the double was the highlight on the fishing front, but there is always more to it than just fish. I explored a few new areas and found some new swims with the river at the top of the banks; the social side was good and I re-acquainted myself with Bridgnorth, my favourite Severn-side town. What a pity that this was the end of the season, the conditions were improving steadily and next week would have been grand I’m certain.

The close season is a hot topic currently as the EA are conducting a survey of the impact of all year river fishing. Watch this space! Personally, I’m sure the dates we currently have are way off the mark and don’t align with the spawning windows of our river species, but I think the break benefits not just the fish, but the riverine environment as a whole  Maybe the dates just need to be adjusted, I will wait and see the scientific evidence produced by the EA before making my mind up, but the cynic in me can’t help thinking this is commercially driven.

That was it for another year on the rivers, time to take stock, have a short break from fishing, do a few jobs round the house, clean up the gear and prepare for the transition from Barbel and Chub to my bungling attempts at Carp and Tench fishing.

25.03.18 Cheshire mere

My resolve lasted 10 days then I cracked and I began my close season Tench campaign way too early…will I never learn? I bought some maggots and headed for my chosen venue, without too much optimism I have to admit. I recalled last season, brimming with enthusiasm for my first attempt at this Cheshire mere, and how I fished it a few times during March for a grand total of nothing. Thankfully everything clicked into place during April as the water warmed; it became a different story and I had a fantastic close season pursuing the Tincas.

I arrived to a plethora of bivvies all seemingly in the process of being dismantled, so I had a walk round the lake and chatted to the departing Carp lads only to hear a dispiriting tale of a busy wekend with just a single carp gracing the bank. Not very encouraging, but I was told a couple of tench had been caught so went and set up on a swim that did me proud last season. Unfortunately it was shaded and facing into a strong breeze, and without the week sun it was really nippy. I took a water temperature of 6C which was another dissapointment but not entirely unexpected.

I fished two 1.5lb test barbel rods, 8lb mainline with in-line feeders and short 6lb flouro hooklengths. One rod was baited with red maggots, the other lobworm tipped with a maggot, both about 35m out onto a small platteau a couple of feet shallower than the surrounding area. I was confident my baits were in the right location from last seasons experience, but I was still in 12ft of water and on reflection might have been better going for a generally shallower area that could have warmed up in the sun a little.

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My go-to tench rig for the summer. The rubber bead turns it into a running rig, remove it and it becomes semi-fixed. There is a buoyant rubber maggot on the hair to neutralise the weight, and I put 2 or 3 real red maggots on the hook. I usually fish a flying back-lead above the float stop.

 

As you may have guessed from my negative introduction I blanked, but I consider it a fact finding mission. I will definitely try one of the shallower areas until the water warms up. I was happy with my set-up in general and had a good look at a few of the pegs that I skipped past last year, so it was a worthwhile exercise.

So that was my lot for March, I shouldn’t harp on about the weather but it was absolutely foul and I really felt like I was on a hiding to nothing a lot of the time. Nevertheless as they say, you don’t catch sat in front of the telly…

Things can only get better, the current flurry of icy rain is purported to be the last this year and I am hoping for a steady improvement in temperatures and consequently an upturn in sport. April is usually a decent month…God knows we deserve it!!!

Tight lines

Dave

 

 

 

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August blog

Madgel bank 04.08.17

When I started this blog I vowed to make my reports as honest as possible, but the last couple of months have made pretty dismal reading, such has been the dearth of my target species, the mighty Barbel. However I am going to stick to my guns even if it pains me to recount fruitless frustrating hours sat watching motionless rod tops, I just hope it is not to boring for anybody who cares to read it, warts and all.

To be honest, after a relatively disappointing July with few Barbel to speak of, I entered August with confidence quite low. After some introspection I resolved not to change what I was doing too drastically; my methods and bait have proven to be effective for many years. However, things weren’t going well so something had to be done. I am always looking for new edges so I made one or two tweaks to my rigs, plus a small change in work ethic, namely to get mobile and try to cover more swims. This was to address the obvious lack of dispersal of the Barbel; many of my fellow anglers were reporting good catches from one swim while nothing was being caught on the rest of the section, usually an early season phenomena post spawning where fish stay around the spawning grounds but this year it is still very much in evidence and we are not far from Autumn!

During mid-August I had the opportunity to have a few days holiday on the middle Severn, one of my favourite rivers and normally very productive for Barbel. If I couldn’t catch there in August with mild conditions and some rainfall forecast, things really would be desperate. This would be sandwiched in between trips to the Ribble and upper Trent so plenty of opportunity to end the relative Barbel famine (if only!).

04.08.17 Mid Ribble

A bright and breezy day, not the best Barbel weather but lovely to be wandering with a fishing rod in the beautiful Ribble valley. Only a few anglers were out on this popular club stretch, quite surprising considering the river was fining down after a fair amount of rain fell during the week and was still carrying a hint of lovely peaty colour. Clarity, or lack of it is, in my opinion, the number one factor in dictating the success or failure of Ribble barbel fishing, closely followed by water temperature.

I was lucky enough to get on a fancied swim but decided to take a softly softly approach as far as feed goes. I fished a medium feeder rig two thirds across to the edge of the main flow line. Any further across is asking for trouble as the river bed is littered with big stones, a tackle graveyard.

As mentioned in the intro I had made some adjustments to my rig to try to improve bait presentation by tying a very fine braid hair and supergluing a couple of the smallest hinders pellets to it, a tiny bait presented as carefully as I could manage while still having the strength in the rig to handle a hard fighting double (I wish!). My commitment to be more mobile vanished and I ended up staying put the whole day apart from a quick recce in the afternoon.

I have great faith in pellets on the Ribble, but I am careful of the quantities I give as freebies, preferring to give the fish more hemp than pellet and increasing the amount of flavoured groundbait, in an attempt to provide a scent trail but not too much free feed. This becomes more crucial as the water temperatures drop in winter, where a couple of pellets will fill a fish for days as their metabolism slows. However, the plan sort of backfired when my tiny bait attracted a tiny Barbel, though I was quite pleased to see a new year class coming through, always a good sign of a healthy Barbel population. It’s of great concern to see rivers producing exclusively large specimen Barbel without a mix of smaller ones showing up, such as seems to be the case currently with the river Dove. I fear there is a problem building for the future of this wonderful river if recruitment of new year groups is failing, but that’s a serious topic for another day.

baby barbel Madgel bank 04.08.17
Perfection in miniature and a great sign of a stable Barbel population

 

The day passed with little to report other than constant action from eels. Now this is interesting, my second rod fishing worm down the deep channel just down my near side was in constant action with them ranging from a few ounces to a couple of pounds. I’m not a fan, but again it shows a healthy balance of species, and of course eels are Otters favourite food, so maybe less of my target species will fall prey to them. It’s strange considering eels have been practically absent from the Ribble for the last few years, very much in line with the national statistics where the population has crashed dramatically.

Later, just as dark descended my feeder rod went off and after a brief but lively tussle I landed a Barbel of around 4lb. Never has a splasher been more welcome, understandable after my recent lack of success. I stuck it out till 11pm then called it quits. Other anglers passing reported it being a hard day all round, so I wasn’t too despondent on the 40 mile drive home.

4lb Madgel bank 04.08.17
Only a splasher but so welcome!

 

07.08.17 Mid Severn club water

Day 1 of a four day Severn break based in one of my favourite fishing towns, Bridgnorth. After a breakfast departure it was lunch time before I reached my destination, a club water downstream of Shrewsbury which has been kind to me in the past.

I had no problem getting a favourite swim where I always do well with my secret recipe flavoured luncheon meat fished half way across in the main flow. However I had made the batch up and frozen it to absorb the flavour a couple of days earlier using an old tin I found in my bait store. I guess it must have been many years old because it had basically turned to jelly. I only found out as it thawed and became impossible to keep on the rig, despite using the ‘ladies legs’ hair rig method that is usually fantastic for keeping meat on the hair for long casts. I think it was so soft that the impact with the water after a 40m cast was destroying the cubes; in desperation I tried wrapping it in pva net and using straw under the wire to spread the force, all to no avail. All very frustrating as the first 2 chunks were still partly frozen and stayed on well, and resulted in 2 cracking 3 foot twitches from a 6lb and a 7lb12oz Barbel. After that I had no idea if my bait was still on after casting but had no more fish. Lesson learnt, use fresh meat!

I stayed till dusk and only just made the last hour in my favourite Bridgnorth pub, the Bell and Talbot and barely managed to squeeze a few down before last orders. The Black Country beer is just so good, I even contemplated missing out on food to have a last pint, but in the end a sprint to the kebab shop saved the day.

7lb Cressage 07.08.178lb Cressage 07.08.17

08.08.17 Severn Stoke- Lower Severn

This felt like a pilgrimage for me to fish this famous length of Birmingham anglers controlled water. I have never made it to the lower until last season’s excellent weekend on Pixham with the Barbel Society, mainly due to the distraction of the middle reaches of the river being so good I never really had the urge to pass Bewdley.

Severn Stoke sunset 08.08.17

There is something about the lower Severn, slow, deep and home to larger Barbel in general than the middle, and much larger boats than I had ever encountered in my river fishing experience. Severn Stoke is a very beautiful stretch of water and obviously popular with the boat trippers.

I had some local advice from Lawrence Breakspeare and James Benfield, both extremely successful Barbel anglers on the lower river, but they warned me it might be difficult as the river had been out of sorts, and so it proved. Features don’t jump out at you down on the lower, very few visible indicators can be seen on the surface but I knew I was in the right area so I stuck it out till dark. Sadly, only bream obliged, big ones granted but not my target species, so I went home to my B&B with my tail between my legs, vowing to return in the Autumn.

09.08.17 Knowle Sands- Mid Seven

This Birmingham anglers stretch is one of my favourites. Located just a stone’s throw from Bridgnorth and down a massive hill to the river; obviously that means an equally massive climb back up at the end of the day. The positive thing is it puts a few off so I can usually get one of my chosen swims here. Unfortunately it is also prone to being fished by some real low-life’s judging from the amount of litter I usually have to collect before I fish; why people come to the beauty of the Severn and feel they have the right to leave their detritus behind is beyond my understanding, but I collected it up anyway, ready to be carted back up ‘cardiac hill’ at dusk.

Knowle Sunset 09.08.17

The rain of the previous days had started to show today and I estimated a rise of 18″ of water from normal level, plus a lovely brown tinge that promised a Barbel or two. As usual on the Severn, it also made the banks treacherous underfoot; I always carry a length of nylon rope and use a deep set bankstick at the top of the bank before I descend to the river side, it has helped me so many times in the past I usually do it on even mildly sloped banks these days.

I fished the standard pellet feeder rod in the main flow line and with my second I dropped a boilie rig down the nearside into a deep slack that I have found this to produce the larger fish in the past. This sleeper rod was set low to the water and after throwing a handful of broken boilies around the slack I cast it in, engaged the bait-runner and left it to its own devices, still mindful that I had to be on the rod quickly in the event of a run.

I started to get a few on the pellet rod, just small fish around 3-5lb but spirited fighters and great fun. Then in the afternoon the sleeper rod screamed off and I had a decent barbel of 7lb, followed shortly after by one of 8lb. By now I was getting fish on both rods quite regularly but the sleeper was producing way better stamp, averaging 7lb. I even managed to hook a couple of quality roach but it was a bit unfair on the gear I was using, however it shows the potential for a nice float fishing session.

knowle 38lb Knowle Sands crop09.08.175lb Knowle 09.08.176lb Knowle 09.08.17

Before I knew it dusk had passed and I had to be off per B.A. club rules. I’d had 13 fish, biggest 8lb, not huge but a very enjoyable and action packed day…the big hill didn’t seem so bad!

10.08.17 Mid Severn club waters

Atcham Lymm Landscape

I decided to head part way home to a new club water near Atcham. It was more of an exploratory visit and in the end I walked 2 full sections, just chatting to the 2 anglers present and generally having a good look around. It was a very attractive bit of river and eventually I came across an enclosed swim overhung with willows with a distinct flow line on the edge of the trees, that just looked so ‘fishy’ I had to give it a try. I could only fish one rod, and because some of the colour had dropped out overnight I decided to go for a straight lead and loose feed approach. I was surprised the only fish to take an interest was a nice perch because it looked like a Barbel’s dream location.

Perch atcham Lymm 09.08.17

In accordance with my new policy I decided to get moving and try a different length a few miles downstream on another club ticket. As usual at this venue I found an empty car park meaning I had the river to myself. I set up in a compact swim below a willow bush with a deep hollow on the nearside and the main flow running by only 5m out. I love this stretch, it’s so picturesque, peaceful and full of wildlife. For some reason the water looked more coloured than the last venue and I had a good feeling as I set up a medium feeder with pellet, and swung it out underarm to the edge of the flow.

Only 10 minutes later I had an absolute screamer that resulted in a very nicely conditioned 8lb’er, followed half an hour later, after a bait change to boilie, by an equally ferocious take from one about 7lb. Both were landed with some difficulty due to a downstream bush that the fish seem to head for, and I had to act quickly to stop them. After the commotion I put a few broken boilies in and went for a walk to let the swim settle. This seemed to do the trick and a couple of 5-6lb fish obliged at dusk.

As dark fell I was hoping for one last big fish but it was not to be, however I was pleased with the trip in general and felt as if a corner had been turned.

8lb Buildwas 10.08.17

18.08.17 Upper Trent

A long trek to the upper Trent to meet my mate Kris from Stoke. We were fishing a popular stretch and as he lives a lot closer he was already well ensconced in his favourite ‘flyer’ by the time I had negotiated the agony of 85 miles on the M56, M6, A50 etc. As we were staying the night I fished the next peg upstream despite having a poor result from there last time while Kris battered them from just 30 yards away. I was confident that this time would be different….Wrong!

Just to confound my optimism my swim failed to produce a barbel despite it looking an absolute peach with the extra water in the Trent creating a fantastic looking crease; Mr Crabtree would have been salivating! Kris proceeded to land four thumping Barbel, topped by a 13lb specimen that was fin perfect and would have made any anglers season.

Kris 13lb
13lb Trent beauty

 

 

I had plenty of time sat watching my motionless isotopes to ponder the reason for my failure; why won’t those barbel move from the downstream swim? My theory is the slightly deeper hollow that exists there holds food, the fish expect to find items dropped from the flow in that location. Logically when there are freebies already there why would they need to waste energy moving further upstream?

Three bream between 2 and 4lb and a couple of chublets were the only visitors to disturb my night. Generally I never worry about blanking, always looking to learn something new from a visit to a river, but I have to admit to feeling a bit deflated after the success of my Severn trip and the close proximity of Barbel to my unloved baits.

The highlight of my session (other than witnessing Kris’s fish) was a cheesy oatcake he cooked for me in his ‘ridge-monkey’! That’s when you know it’s been a hard slog. To be fair to the lad he could actually work for the Stoke tourist board such is his enthusiasm for the best things to come from his ‘fair’ city; the previously mentioned oatcakes which make up 75% of the average Stokies diet, his beloved Stoke City FC and of course the River Trent!

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The mighty cheese Oatcake, upon which Stoke is built!!!

 

In the cold light of day a trip to the Salt Box for a full English was in order, and we were accompanied by Mark, a fellow Stockport lad we met on the bank. A bit of banter and a full belly certainly lifted my spirits for the drive home. I know the potential of this stretch so won’t be dissuaded easily; just to confirm this the following week my pal Harry landed this stunning creature from an undisclosed location on the river…simply awesome! My plans are already in place for a triumphant return.

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Harry with an earth shaking Trent fish…truly awesome!!!!

 

25.08.17 Upper Trent

My triumphant return turned out to be somewhat less than triumphant. Another overnighter, this time I got there before Kris so had the pick of the pegs. It was a close call between 2 swims, I chose a lovely looking swim with a deeper gulley running down mid river and fished both rods along it.

Kris turned up in the evening and dropped in the other swim I had looked at, and went on to land 4 nice barbel…I blanked yet again! I didn’t even get a decent kip as several small chub, just big enough to move the rig and set off my alarms, plagued me throughout the night!

I thought I had turned a corner after my Severn trip but obviously I chose a dead end street full of pot-holes. It is incredibly frustrating to blank when my mate is catching just a hundred metres away, but I am sure it is a temporary slump I’m in and that things will come good sooner or later. I take so much pleasure from this great sport of ours that even after all the bad days and 150 mile round trips I wouldn’t change a thing.

Autumn is round the corner…bring it on!!!

Tight lines

Dave

 

 

Suffering on the Severn

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Angry river Severn!

 

 

I think the Goddess Sabrina was suffering from PMT; bloated and angry are apt adjectives for the river we faced on Friday, the start of a long weekend trip. Maybe I had vexed her in a frustrated facebook post a couple of weeks ago when I told a mate I had never blanked before on the Severn. Little did I know that she certainly wasn’t going to bestow her Barbel treasures easily.

Friday

After a ‘big breakfast’ rendezvous in the Bridgnorth Wetherspoons, Kris and I headed to Danesford on the Birmingham Anglers ticket, simply because the walk is mercifully short and I reasoned we could survey the river for suitable flood water swims. The level was 2.8m and it looked like Willey Wonka’s river, with plenty of timber on the move, water temp was 7C.

We found one definite goer swim and 2 maybe’s so we flipped a coin and I won; no room for chivalry today, so I took what looked to be the dead cert. Just one rod I thought, 12lb braid to a 8’s Drennan conti with a 1.5″ cube of flavoured spam hair rigged on some gardening wire ‘ladies legs’ style.

Ten minutes later the rod ripped off and I quickly landed a very tatty looking splasher. I thought I was in for a good session but as I said, Sabrina had it in for me. The rain got worse and the day turned cold and miserable and the fish were conspicuous by their absence.

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My miserable face says it all, slim pickings from a mean river.

 

Kris managed to snare a similar splasher of his own, then at the death he lost a better fish. As is the way with BA we had to be off at dark but I think we could have fished till the morning for nowt that day.

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Thankfully the pubs and restaurants of Bridgnorth are excellent and fortified by many pints and a bloody good curry I slept the sleep of the just and awoke ready to face new challenges.

Saturday

Even more water! With around 3m on we had to find flood water swims now. My usual ‘flyers’ were nothing short of Amazonian, so I suggested we try a club water toward Shrewsbury that featured some near bank slack water. We arrived to find it looking fine and at last I felt positive about our chances, though still very coloured and a water temp of 6C. I fished 2 rods, boilie on one, meat on the other, perfectly positioned on the crease (or so I imagined!).

First chuck my mate is into a fish, it looked decent size in the net but the scales said otherwise. I did the honours with my camera and was shocked just how good the snaps were. Anybody who reads my blog and facebook page will know my usual self takes using a screw on a bank stick are pretty disappointing, but I excelled myself with camera in hand. The fish looked massive, just goes to show you can easily be deceived by photo’s. Kris was laughing as he posted it to his mates back in Stoke and they came back asking if it was a double!

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Camera tricks!

 

 

The day just fizzled out after that and I blanked, I could hear Sabrina cackling as I trudged back to the car. Still at least Kris had caught one. Later on facebook I saw my mate Rob Mitchell, Prince of Brignorth, had caught 6 in a couple of hours including a double…kick in the bollocks doesn’t do it justice! Only joking mate, awesome angling in those conditions.

Sunday

Kris headed back for a Christening, I was on my own, time to get busy. I yomped down cardiac hill to Knowle Sands full of determination. I yomped back up 3 hours later a little easier as I had lost so many leads and feeders….what a nightmare. I wasn’t going to catch, Sabrina made sure of that; I couldn’t even get angry about the Bell End in a high powered speed boat who ploughed up and down the length, I might think otherwise if he tries it in Summer!

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I legged upstream to Apley, a newly acquired BA stretch. I found a brook running into the main river, slack as a mill pond with a clear crease. Surely fish would be about in the lee? I packed up just after dark fishless accompanied by an otter that swam out of the brook no more than 6 feet away. I bet he caught something…bollocks! Read later Rob Mitchell had caught a load more…double bollocks!!

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Monday

The river had finally dropped a bit, some of the colour had gone as well, but I was on my way home, so decided to go and have a look at a couple of club waters and if I could find a spot I would have a couple of hours. The first length I couldn’t find anything that took my fancy; the second I didn’t trust the marsh of a car park, especially after getting stranded last week and having to beg a farmer to help…never again!

So I ended back on Saturday’s venue fishing the same peg, but something had changed with the fall of the level, I could just feel it in my bones…I had done my penance, Sabrina had forgiven me.

Kris gave me a load of boilies his carp fishing pal had made for him when he went, so I used them on a feeder rod, plus the usual chunk of meat on the other. An hour later the boilie rod went and I was attached to a decent fish. Landed without to much drama it weighed in at 7lb15oz, followed by 3 more all around or just below the same weight. They loved the boilies, got to get me some more!

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I was more relieved than happy as I drove home. It had been challenging to say the least, but a few fish were still caught by other anglers up and down the river. I think local knowledge is vital when the river floods as proven by Rob’s consistency. I would wager that the Severn will switch on as she drops this week, shame on my legendary bad timing. I certainly enjoyed the company though, cheers Kris. Bridgnorth is a great fishing destination, I’ve been coming here since I was a kid, full of welcoming pubs and talkative locals and the midlands beer is truly awesome!

Still a few days left of the river season so maybe a few more fish yet before I put the Barbel gear away.

Tight lines

Dave