River Severn 1st November 2014
Last weekend I paid a second visit this season to a club stretch on the upper middle Severn at Bicton. My previous trip resulted in a blankety blank however I felt conditions had improved sufficiently to warrant a re-match and so I set off at 8am on the 150 mile round trip stopping on the way for a full english at the Lazy Kettle cafe on the A483. The journey down was uneventful and after a quick chat to the farmer, who kindly offered me a cooked chicken he’d bought but not managed to eat the day before, I parked up and started to explore the upper stream limit. Although the bankside vegetation had died down sufficiently to see potential swims nothing appealed and I found myself back in a swim I’d fished a few times previously and had a couple of barbel from, it had also produced a 6lb+ chub for a fellow member the season before so I made the first cast with both species in mind and used meat direct onto a size 6 hook.
After an hour and many re-casts I switched to banded pellet which, as usual, was soaked in the Laguna SAC juice, this weeks bottle was the new Elderberry which I felt would be attractive to chub given their liking for berries that drop from over hanging bushes. The feeder contained bread crumb which had taken a liberal spraying of the Blue Cheese SE SAC juice the night before, I’ve found that this aids ‘balling’ in over a distance as it binds the crumb together and will remain in the feeder long enough to hit bottom before leeching out all those lovely attractants around the hook bait.
I’d arranged to meet Phil again and fish together in the afternoon so after a couple of hours I returned to the car park and had cooked chicken for lunch. Phil arrived along with his two mates Russ and Lee and we spoke about our chances given the river looked in fine condition after the recent rain and had a good pace to it.
We walked the half mile or so to the bottom end and I dropped into a swim just upstream of the river Perry opposite, again this was a swim I’d had a fish from previously albeit a barbel from the margins whilst chub fishing.
I used a bait dropper to deposit six payloads of hemp each in three likely looking areas, one in-front two rod lengths out, one upstream to my left under an overhanging bush and the other to my right in the margins, if I was going to catch I had a few options whilst I rested the successful spot.
Phil had set-up twenty yards downstream of me and agreed it looked very likely to produce so our first casts were made with much hope of a quick return. By late afternoon neither of us had been given a sign by the fishing Gods and staring at a motionless tip I decided to pay a visit to the island about fifty yards back upstream.
The river was racing through on the nearside so I figured it would be too much for my 1oz feeder to hold bottom however, as you’d expect, the very back of the island was relatively still with only the odd swirl occasionally forming a back eddy, the perfect spot for chub and barbel to rest up. I cast as close as I dared to the overhanging bushes and the little feeder held station without as much as a nod on the rod tip. A king fisher swooped at low level and darted into the bushes where I’d cast and my hopes were raised for a take.
After half an hour I’d moved ten yards downstream to another slack area in between some dense undergrowth, the 10′ rod was perfect for this type of jungle warfare and reminiscent of the great John Wilson on one of his Go Fishing programs when he usually hooks into a chub and has to negotiate the shrubbery to land it. Unfortunately for me there was to follow no shouts of ‘Oh here we go’ and ‘That’s lovely’ as only JW can and as darkness had arrived I returned, slightly despondent, to my evening swim.
Phil departed around 8pm and told me Lee and Russ had given up even earlier but as all three intended a full days fishing the next day it was understandable, he wished me luck and disappeared off into the distance on the long walk back to the car park. I’d made my mind up to sit it out until midnight at which point I too would give up and head home but one last cast led to another and unfortunately I stayed much later, 3am in fact and my only excuse was the intermittent rain showers and not wanting to pack up in the wet conditions.
If I’m honest I’d say it wasn’t the rain, I was cold, slightly damp and tired but as each hour passed it brought new hope for a fish, just one, any fish would do even a trout from the Perry, I didn’t really care at that stage which leads me onto the point of this post ‘It’s not always about the catching’ if it was it’d be called catching not fishing, to angle for fish is a skill in itself, a skill most of us have fine tuned over many hours on the bank. My mate Smudge once said ‘If the fish aren’t in-front of you then you won’t catch’ a simple statement but one that rings true for every angler who’s returned home without catching a fish but what do most of us do after such an event? Well most of us probably analyse what went well and what we’d do differently next time so despite being ‘fish-less’ I walked back to the car park with the usual spring in my step and reflected on what had been a challenging session but at the same time most enjoyable because of good company and the sights I’d seen, the king fisher, the swans and a free cooked chicken!!
River Dane 4th November 2014
The next day I was up early and drying out the tackle from the previous night. I was still licking my wounds from an uneventful session on the Severn when I decided to have an evening session on the river Dane after work the next day.
A quick session after work for me involves battling the rush hour traffic along the M6 so I managed to set off at 6pm and literally ‘go with the flow’ which, fortunately for me, kept flowing albeit at a reduced pace and I pulled into the farmyard an hour later at 7pm. I had the bare minimum and apart from my lightweight chair had no luxury’s for this short but determined session. My tackle consisting of a made up Hardy rod and centre pin, landing net, bankstick and a bait pouch containing a small selection of meat, pellets, a couple of slices of bread and a small ball of cheese paste, I also squeezed in a small bag of hemp left over from Saturday and of course a couple of small bottles of Laguna SAC juice to soak the pellets in, the pouch is lined so behind it I had a weigh sling and a small set of digital scales just in case I caught that elusive 5lb Dane chub. Camera was tucked away in the quiver pocket, another ‘just in case’ piece of equipment.
The ESP bait pouch is a very versatile means of carrying bait, scales and few essentials when roving.
My very reliable weather site, yr.no, had predicted rain at 8pm so on this occasion I took my brolly in the small quiver otherwise I’d have been walking around with just the rod, net and bankstick in one hand and the chair tucked under my arm. As it happened the chair housed my flask and rope for descending the steep banks especially if it rains. The quiver took my brolly, rod and landing net so it I set off a quite a pace mostly due to travelling light but also in my eagerness to get fishing. I must say that the roving chub angler will usually dispense with a chair but my longer sessions have taught me that sat on an unhooking mat touch ledgering can be uncomfortable after a while so I’ll always get it down to the river and then have the option to leave it in a swim whilst I wander off elsewhere.
I headed straight for the Willow swim another ‘banker’ in the past but not always guaranteed especially when ones confidence has taken a knock but but 7:30pm I was set up in the swim and casting a chunk of meat out under the sparsely clad tree branches, the rain arrived bang on time and I huddled under the umbrella for warmth, something very comforting about being under a brolly in the rain.
The Willow swim, photo taken February this year, it was blowing a hooley so some improvisation with ropes needed to stop it taking off!!
Once the rain stopped I moved 30 yards downstream to the swim I’d had my last chub from with Deano, surely this would deliver the goods again? Not so and with time marching on I settled on the Gate swim as the last chance saloon, en-route I stopped and looked long and hard at a swim I hadn’t fished for a long time, not easily accessed but so inviting I just had to give it a go. The swim before the island has produced big barbel in the past and some decent chub too, the trick being to entice them out of the deeper pool and out into nearside edge.
The Island swim, photo taken last year, the trick is to entice the fish out from the deeper pool to the left of the island.
The problem I was faced with was getting a bait down that far on the centre pin, heavy meat wasn’t too bad free lined as long as you kept it moving but pellet was near impossible so I remembered reading about getting baits into awkward places using a slice of bread. I had 2 pieces of bread so the banded pellet was carefully pushed through one end then the same again the other end and the hook point dug into the crust, I lifted up to swing it out but was a little too forceful and the bread parted company with the rig.
I watched it float downstream, cursing under my breath, but actually it went exactly where I’d intended so I quickly re-rigged the second and final piece this time taking care to just lower it onto the surface and off it went as I hand fed line off the reel. Just as it reached the intended spot I pulled slowly back and felt the hook bait part company with the improvised raft, perfect!! I settled down in my chair and waited, it was 12:30am and work was only a brief sleep away but I was in with a chance of saving the night and redeeming my honour with a fish.
Fifteen minutes later and with no takers on the pellet I lifted up only to find it snagged solid, it had fallen into weed and probably sat on top, bugger all that thoughtful preparation to get it into position wasted and what’s more no bread left, I reeled in and swapped the hook for a size 6, pulled it through a cube of meat and cast it back out. At 1am I had to admit defeat, all in all some twenty two hours fishing and nowt to show for it except I then realised just how much I’d enjoyed this impromptu session and how I’d enjoyed the planned session on Saturday, I felt relaxed and stress free. Not catching actually doesn’t bother me as much as not going fishing in the first place, I look forward to each trip, so much so I can’t usually sleep much the night before. It’s not always about the catching is it?
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