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.

20180313_103521

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.

20180402_182815
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

 

 

 

Advertisements

October blog

IMG_0635

Dark and moody, overcast and windy, putting an end to the last vestiges of Summer; that is the month of October….and I love it!!! Why? Because its the best barbeling month of the year (probably!)

It could never be described as an easy month, the rain and wind bring their own issues for the river man in the shape of high water, leaves and uprooted weed building up in giant clumps on your line, plus the obvious discomfort of getting soaked and chilled to the bone, but for me these negatives are totally outweighed by the opportunity to catch Barbel at their fattest and fittest as they bulk up for the hardships of winter. Usually the rivers are up and coloured, but with water temperatures still in the anglers favour, hopefully spurring the big girls to get on the munch.

IMG_0633
Feeling hopeful!
06.10.17 Upper Trent

After last months relative successes on my chosen club stretch of the upper Trent I felt I had to return and have another go just to prove it wasn’t a fluke. I had chosen all my swims previously because they had attributes that made them suitable for the high water conditions I faced all through September, and I believed those features would hold resident fish or at least create a patrol route that would be visited by a barbel at some time during the session. At the start of the week the water levels were down to just a few inches above normal level so I was looking forward to trying somewhere new and interesting, maybe a nice glide or a shallower section I had earmarked on previous visits. However, my plans were put in doubt as some substantial rain fell in my area mid-week, and my mate from Stoke confirmed it was hoofing down around there, so I wasn’t sure what I would find on arrival.

As it turned out a fair bit of water had indeed got into the river, it was about 1.0m up and a lovely clay brown colour that filled me full of optimism, but I was now faced with the choice of either fishing one of the same swims as last month where I knew I could hold bottom and wouldn’t have to worry about water-borne debris so much, or risking somewhere new where I might get washed out by the rising river.

I chose the boring option of familiarity and set up exactly the same as usual in one of the slacker swims I had fished previously. Unadventurous it may have been, but I have learnt the hard way from fishing the spatey Ribble that choosing the wrong swim when the river is on the rise is time consuming and frustrating, and invariably ends in a forced move…far better to make the right choice to start with, based on the predictive tools we have at our disposal these days, plus a bit of guess work.

It was a quiet evening and night, the leaves and weed weren’t much of a problem and my 4oz leads never budged due to the slack nearside water and back leads keeping the line pinned to the bottom and out of the way of the weed and leaves in the water column. It was a nice mild evening and I enjoyed the relaxation of the countryside, watching the Kingfishers and Herons working the far bank.

It was a bit of a shock when the upstream rod went off like a rocket; it would have been the much beloved ‘3 foot twitch’ except the rod was pointing almost in line with the direction the fish was heading due to the constrictions of the swim, and I was alerted in no uncertain terms by the scream of the baitrunner ratchet. As soon as I picked it up I knew it was good fish; the slow forceful plod, non of the erratic tail pumping of the smaller barbel, just pure power and the odd lunge and heart-stopping ping on the line as the fish turned. The fight got serious under the rod tip as the fish looked for sanctuary under the upstream willow, but I managed to turn her and soon the battle was won. I knew she was a double but I underestimated her weight by a pound. At 12lb6oz my seasons best and 2nd equal biggest I have ever had….I was buzzing.

12lb06oz Cuttle Brook 06.10.17
12lb6oz with a tail to kick ass! Many thanks to Joel Virgo and others (On the Banksy facebook page) for helping improve my picture https://www.facebook.com/groups/1251110481672282/

No further action was had after this, other than a few small bream and chub that launched themselves inconsiderately onto the hook, but the session was a roaring success as far as I was concerned because of that one beautiful fish.

13.10.17 Upper Trent

I just had to go back and have another go…I was flushed with confidence, but that usually proves to be my downfall and true to form that bloody river confounded me yet again. It was a fair bit lower than last week, most of the colour had gone. I had definitely made my mind up to try a different area, but wouldn’t you know it, contrary to normal there were several lads on when I arrived and every swim I had earmarked was occupied! So guess what, I ended back on the same swim as last week!

Suffice to say, despite my best efforts I didn’t even manage a Bream or a Chub, and in the morning sat shivering on my damp chair as the morning sun defrosted me, I pondered the fine line between a triumph and an absolute stinker, consoling myself with the thought ‘you cant have the former without going through a few of the later’.

The only positive of the session was finding a new café, the ‘Nose Bag’ in Hatton that was a bit cheaper and a bit better than my usual haunt (in my humble opinion) so at least I had a nice full tummy for the long drive home, stuck behind the series of pensioner piloted Micra’s and poo splattering tractors that frequent the 70 mile route.

20.10.17 Mid Ribble

I had become a bit obsessed with the upper Trent, so decided to buck the trend and head for the Ribble for an afternoon session, promising my better half I would head for home just after dark. After a quick look at Guagemap (4am reading) which showed the river topping out at 1.6m high, I predicted a hard drop in level typical of the Ribble, and expected it to be almost back to normal by the time I arrived around lunchtime. It just goes to show the limitations of only having two read-outs per 24hours as another pulse of water followed after 4am and the level was higher than anticipated, around 1.8m. However there are plenty of suitable swims to be had that can be fished in these conditions.

To be honest this wasn’t anything too exciting for hardy Ribble anglers who often see 3 or 4m of raging water and still manage to catch a few fish, but swim choice becomes reduced. I am looking for nearside slacks or smooth laminar flow and these are in short supply in a Ribble flood. This isn’t always a bad thing of course as the fish will concentrate in these calmer areas, and a good session can be had if you know where to look.

tickled-trout-in-flood
The Ribble with a drop of water in her a couple of years ago!!!!

To cut a long story short I fished a swim that in normal conditions is a slow moving pool, but as the river rises it provides a nice slack on the inside and a lovely crease as the main flow rushes along mid river. I took the water temperature for the first time this winter and the reading of 12C gave me confidence something would come along eventually.

I chose a feeder approach to be sure some bait was always going to be around my hookbait, and as the flow wasn’t too great because of the slack I hoped to build a patch of feed as the day progressed. The second rod was straight lead, boilie wrapped in plenty of paste, with a PVA bag of broken boilies and a few pellets soaked in glug. This was cast to various likely spots around the slack pool downstream but in the event it was the upstream feeder rod that produced, just 3 small barbel and a couple of chub, all around dusk.

Oddly the expected fall in level did occur in the evening and I estimated an 18″ drop in a couple of hours but this really messed the swim up, the nearside slack became very turbulent and it was only as dark fell that the swim settled somewhat, and that coincided with the fish getting over the feed. Not the most productive session but the Ribble hasn’t been as kind to me this season compared to last. Fellow anglers have also reported a downturn in sport but nobody is sure why.

One concern I did have was the large amount of foam evident; this used to indicate detergent in the water in the bad old days of the 70-80’s when the rivers were far more polluted than now. I just hope it is a natural phenomena and not unwelcome run-off entering the system. I had a couple of photos of the changing face of the swim as the levels dropped which also illustrated the foam build up but I can’t publish them for fear of falling foul of the ‘Ribble barbel police’ and ‘fishing fight club’ as they give the swim away, very frustrating but I don’t want to upset anybody.

27.10.17 Upper Trent

Back on the Trent, this time I was determined to try a different type of swim outside my usual area. the river was carrying around 0.4m so not as much as recent trips, and this offered the option to fish some of the faster moving glides.

I chose just such a swim, a nice 2m deep glide below a shallower section, and fished a feeder in the main flow line only 20m from my bank, plus a straight lead, paste wrapped boilie and pva bag further downstream.

I have made my own pastes for quite a few years now, just a basic home made boilie base mix, with added fish meals, crushed hemp, oils and flavours tailored to match whatever boilie I am fishing. This is much cheaper than off the shelf pastes that are sold by the boilie companies in little pots, I just add an egg to bind for a longer lasting paste. Even better, you know exactly what’s going in it and can flavour to suit the conditions and mix it to break down at the desired rate. I wouldn’t bother making my own boilies however, its hard work and there are plenty of good ones around, I don’t have the time to be honest, but a big ball off paste can be knocked out in 10 minutes and frozen for future trips.

I had some company in the shape of my mate Kris who has been through some bad times recently. He rang me to say on top of all this his car had broken down on the way to the river. To be honest I didnt expect to see him, but good on him for borrowing his mates van and turning up that evening…top lad (and he brought his brewing kit for much needed cuppa’s!).

As usual I set up for the night here to make it worth the long trip. There seems to be very little action during daylight anyway. Just at dusk I hooked a nice chub, I didn’t weigh it as it was a bit of a miss-match on the heavy barbell set up, but I estimated around 4-5lb so a decent fish and worth pursuing in the frosty winter months on appropriate gear.

IMG_0634

An hour later a hell of a wrap around bite resulted in a great scrap with a nicely conditioned Barbel of 8lb9oz. With the extra flow in this swim the fish could use it to its advantage and really put the tackle through its paces. I was relieved to get it in the net to be honest as I recalled the disappointing blank last time I was here.

The bright sunshine and clear skies of the day were followed by severely plummeting temperatures, not the best recipe for a Barbel session. Never the less I was here for the night so I kept busy and re-cast the rods regularly, at least before the floating weed built up on the lines and forced the issue. I could keep the rigs in place for an hour without too much difficulty so I was happy to keep the upstream feeder rod active and leave the straight lead rod in position as long as possible.

8lb9oz Cuttle 27.10.17
8lb9oz and very welcome!

In the early hours another screaming run on the feeder rod had me scrambling for dear life. Again I knew the moment I picked up the rod this was a good fish, it bull-dozed around and like the earlier specimen it used the flow to its advantage, taking me for a run around a couple of times. I was as confident as I could be that there were no snags in the swim; I had leaded around before I started fishing to give me some idea of the depth and composition of the river bed. Thankfully this proved to be the case, just some nearside streamer weed to avoid and after what seemed like an age the fish finally rolled over the lip of my landing net. After a good rest in the net while I calmed myself down and set up my camera & scales, I finally lifted her out and knew another double was on the cards. She weighed in at 12lb8oz and just pipped the fish from earlier in the month, and goes in the diary as my second biggest Barbel ever. To say I was pleased would be an understatement!!

12lb8oz cuttle 28.10.17_pic2
12lb8oz of pure muscle

The pictures were, as usual, a mixed bag,  I have been getting some poor results recently with my self-take night shots but I can’t afford a new camera. I have made a little diffuser guard to fit over the flash to try to reduce over exposure of the fish and at least that seemed to help a bit. As for the framing and my bizzare facial expressions…well I will just have to keep working on them!!!

12lb8oz cuttle 28.10.17
Same fish, at least I can crack a smile, pity I cut such a magnificent tail off!!!

 

20171030_230801
Home made flash diffuser made from plastic milk bottle (thanks for the tip Dave Mez)

The temperatures have started to fall fast as we enter November; I had to scrape the ice from the car window for the first time this winter. I also dusted off the chub rod yesterday and checked the freezer for left over cheese paste from last season. When one door closes another one opens!!

08.12.17 Heald Green Social Club ABG fund raiser

For any North West angler looking for something to do on a rainy mid-week evening you could do far worse than get to Heald Green on December 4th 8pm for Jerry Gleeson and Matt Marlows fund raiser for the Army Benevolent Fund. Gary Knowles is the guest speaker and I can vouch for the quality of his fishing presentations. Expect some barracking from the floor and witty comebacks. Its only £3 entry and all money raised is for a worthy cause. There is usually a bait stand and a good raffle as well. I will see you all there…mines a bitter!

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1973245402943668&id=100007746820544

Tight lines

Dave

Suffering on the Severn

IMG_0350
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.

IMG_0349_crop
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.

17103741_10155127290574923_3485226701870652496_n

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!

Blur Bokeh07-03-2017_221351
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!

IMG_0360

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!!

IMG_0361

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!

IMG_0370_crop

IMG_0367_crop

IMG_0374_cropIMG_0381_crop

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