River Dane Daisybank 03-08-12
Less than a week later and I was back on the Dane at Daisybank for a late evening session. Only two barbel graced my net but they were most welcomed as the evening drew to a close around 11pm.
Note the apparent lack of an anal fin?
River Dane Daisybank 11-08-12
Another week and another short session, this time with Adam trying to get him his first barbel. It didn’t go as planned but he did manage a decent chub but refused to hold it for the photo so dad had to do the honours.
I know Daisybank holds more surprises and vowed to return but for now it was time to start thinking of the next few weeks ahead and my first of many visits to Llandrinio and our record holding stretch of the upper Severn.
River Severn Llandrinio 24-08-12
August will always be remembered as the month I started my campaign on the upper Severn at Llandrinio. I’d had a good chat with the club barbel record holder about the short stretch we own and he’d freely offered some sound advice “Move frequently and be prepared to blank a lot”
So at the time I thought I’d do a bit of ‘live from the bank’ reporting on the clubs forum giving updates as they happened on my latest holiday campaign, this was the start of an epic 4 day session in the wilds of the upper Severn.
I arrived on the Tuesday around 5pm and walked the short stretch looking for a suitable spot to set-up the bivvy and also looking for likely barbel swims. I wasn’t disappointed as bankside access is relatively easy and the far bank is tree lined and full of features.
The river isn’t much wider than the Dane and although it’s a little up on it’s normal summer levels there seems to be some good deep runs and holes. I decided to pitch up on an outcrop of grass at the upper stream limit away from the main field that is currently home to 30 or more young bullocks.
I cast the rods out at 6pm, one bullock appeared on the sky line followed by another, then another then all of them and I found myself moving the food and provisions to a safe distance. To be honest I did feel a little uneasy but told myself they must see anglers down here on a regular basis so I just carried on as normal and they went about their business coming within 3 feet of me and licking everything in sight.
The setup was simple, a free running 2oz feeder and a long 5 foot hook link to a size 10 hook and a hair rigged halibut pellet. The feeder settled in the flow mid stream and I sat back and waited for darkness as this felt more of a night time venue.
At 9pm a screamer of run saw me doing battle with what felt like a smallish barbel but under the rod tip it went nuts and I realised it was probably a modest size, I was on strong tackle but it still took line until eventually I slipped the net under it and admired my prize.
It weighed a respectable 8lb 5oz and was fin perfect, my first upper Severn barbel. Apart from a run at 6:30am the next morning which I missed I had to wait for darkness to fall on day 2 and hopefully a repeat performance, it’d been raining heavily for most of the afternoon so the roving approach was put on hold and I took comfort from the bivvy and a warm sleeping bag.
Eventually the rain eased off and I took the opportunity to wander downstream to a wide bend and had a decent chub at 5pm in great condition but didn’t put up much of a scrap.
Back to the bivvy an hour later and first cast screamed off with a 7lb 12oz barbel the end result.
It had been raining fairly heavily since last night and the river has risen by almost two foot, the downstream swim I was on today was completely submerged and I was marking the rise with a bank stick. My dilemma was that with the waters edge only three feet away and about a foot below me should I move or stay put and hope it stays as it is? I couldn’t settle for the night in case I ended up on a floating bed chair!!!
It continued to rise and needless to say I conceded and moved further up the hill at 2am for what was hopefully the third and final time, to make matters worse I’d snagged up on both rods so decided to call it a night and get some much needed sleep!
An early start the next morning and I felt optimistic for the day ahead. Soon after first light I’d re-tackled and cast the rods out, no sooner had the mid stream rod hit bottom and it was off, the usual upper Severn scrap ensued and eventually a cracking barbel was in the net, weighing a respectable 8lb 4oz it simply shone in the early morning sunshine.
The next 24 hours proved beyond any doubt that this stretch of river contained some big specimen barbel. I continued to feed the swim as I figured that although they are a good average size of around the 8lb mark there aren’t that many barbel in the stretch so I wanted to keep them busy plus when the river is in flood it can be as deep as 12 foot+ so they need to find the free offerings and stay in the area.
Once darkness came the barbel started to feed confidently and numerous twitches on the rods indicated they were up for it. I had a blistering take but it didn’t feel like I was connected initially then a short fight followed with the netting of what I can only describe as ‘a bendy Chub’ it really did have a deformed spine with a distinct curvature it must have had from birth, how it had survived predation over the years is anyone’s guess, maybe it wobbled violently as it swam along or maybe other residents felt sorry for it, either way it was a fish and they all count!
A bendy Chub!!
I continued fishing into the night and had a good run around 1am, it stayed deep as was the norm and I eventually had it ready for netting when suddenly it dived upstream and straight through the now submerged fence that prevented the cattle from entering the river, my heart sank as it became well and truly snagged and I started to worry more about the fishes safety as the fence had barbed wire running it’s full length.
It was a stalemate situation and I had to slacken off to allow the fish some chance of escaping unharmed, 5 minutes later and it was still on so I tightened down and buried the tip of the rod, slowly but surely I started to inch the fish out and then it surfaced splashing around with it’s new found energy. I quickly grabbed the net but it lundged back down and then ‘ping’ I was left holding a rod and net but no fish, the line must have been damaged when it was snagged.
I quickly re-rigged and this time opted for an all out assault with a stringer of pellets around my hook bait of the same.
By this time it was 3am and I was feeling exhausted after the previous nights antics of moving the bivvy twice to escape a rapidly rising river but I knew conditions were right and there’s nothing more exciting than flood water barbel fishing at night.
Casting both rods out to their usual spot I couldn’t help thinking this maybe a chance of my first double figure barbel and that was enough to spur me on. I settled back down and just watched as the night slipped away into dawn. The farm houses in the distance started to glow a deep orange as the sun started to rise, I grabbed my camera and took what turned out to be the most magnificent sunrise photo I’ve seen in a long time.
The view from my bed chair on the last morning, stunning simply stunning…
The dawn couldn’t get much better but it did with the right hand rod launching into action as another local resident took off downstream. This time I almost bullied the fish back towards me in an effort to keep it away from the submerged fence and before I knew it I was staring down at my biggest fish of the 4 day session. For a brief moment I thought ‘double’ but the scales confirmed it as 9lb 4oz my biggest off Llandrinio so far and even further proof that bigger existed.
Next came a comedy of errors as although I managed a self take with the camera I didn’t frame the fish and then the batteries died.
A prized fish deserves a better self take!!
It was still too dark so I rested the fish until the dawn light got brighter as my camera phone didn’t have a flash and although this time I framed it slightly better it was too grainy to make out any detail other than the shape of a decent fish.
I was delighted with the nights results but extremely tired so I reeled in and had a few hours sleep before packing up and heading back to the car. When I got to the stile the farmer who’d been trimming the hedges stopped his tractor for a chat, as well as asking how I’d got on he pointed out that my clubs stretch actually ended on the bend just passed the stile and as I’d been fishing some 100 yards beyond that I needed permission from him to do so!! I was mortified to say the least and apologised immediately, for 4 days I’d been poaching and this farmer had kindly left me to it. I loaded the car up and dug out my map book and sure enough the red line that indicates the area we can fish stopped right on the bend and I’d wrongly assumed that our upper stream limit was the fence line, the same fence line I tangled with old bertie the night before.
Poacher!! Our stretch ends just about where the bullocks are taking a drink…
Never one to miss an opportunity I started off down the lane and pulled in by the farmer who was on the phone, when he’d finished he jumped out of the cab and I showed him our map pointing out the error of my ways. He was very understanding and said he could see I was genuinely embarrassed by the whole thing so I asked “Have you considered renting your stretch to a club like our Mr Jones?” to which he replied “I haven’t really but I might” we exchanged numbers and to cut a long story short we now have a further 1000 yards of prime upper Severn river added to the existing stretch giving us well over a mile of fishing to go at. My mum was right “if you don’t ask you don’t get” nice one mum!!
On the long journey home I was already planning a return visit and hoping to unlock more of the upper Severn’s secrets.
If you want to follow Bob aka Grazy and his mates on their fishing exploits as they unfold I usually put a post up on Facebook when I’m out so click here to
Till next time tight lines,