Thursday, 17 November 2011

pastures new

I cannot deny that right now I am feeling disillusioned with the Avon . We had planned a trip to the Wye this weekend but that all fell through at the last minute and left us in need of a change of venue. So upon Andy's suggestion we procured the correct visas, tickets and guide books and took trip to fish the mighty River Severn.

Considering I don't live that far away from the Severn it's odd that I have only ever fished the upper Severn on the welsh boarders. In fact I think that the lowest place I have ever fished it is at the small Welsh town of Abermule. So until now the middle Severn has remained a total mystery to me, which in itself is amazing as the area we intended to fish near Bridgnorth has a reputation as some of the best barbel fishing in the UK. So why I have never been there before is any one's guess.

Previously I referred to this river as the mighty Severn and this was by no means an understatement. It is the longest river in the Britain, it also drains a very large proportion of Wales and discharges the largest amount of water of all our rivers whilst doing it. But until you first set eyes on it in full flow you have no idea of how power full it really is!

We had decided to start of in a comfortable area to try and get to know this raging beast with a little foreplay if you will. And straight away the power was obvious when I casually tossed out a 2oz maggot feeder towards the middle of the river, which never touched bottom until it passed into the slack water some forty feet down the bank from me. eep!!!

On the advice of another far more experienced Severn angler I stuck it out on the maggot feeder whilst it was light and fished a second rod baited with a chunk of spicy meat under any fishy looking trees. It soon became apparent that although our first spot was comfortable it was equally shallow, and although I was getting some regular attention form the local minnow population I was not converting nibbles into wriggles, so we decided to move down stream.

The next spot I opted for was much deeper and even more powerful due to a sunken tree pushing the river hard into a crease emanating from the opposite bank, which collided with another coming from my bank. The maggot feeder stood no chance here resulting in me fishing a single meat line close in again.
After a short while in this swim I began to feel that I just wasn't doing this right at all. I'd seen two or three fish roll out in the centre of the river and quickly casting my meat bait upstream of the area proved that even if I added enough weight to my rig to keep it there, all the debris caught up in the flow soon tore my rigs down stream inevitably finding a snag.

Feeling as if I was ill prepared to fish such conditions with an entire day of it ahead I decided to stop fishing, take a look at my map to see if I could locate some more fishable water to target.
After packing up my kit and spending a good ten minutes trying to get myself plus kit up one of the savage slippery Severn banks I dumped my kit behind Andy and took a stroll down stream in search of quieter water.
What looked like a five minute walk on the map turned out to be a half an hour hike around the edge of open fields.  Along the way I did find a few locals fishing and took every opportunity to try and find out how others were faring. This is normally an easy task of just approaching giving a nod and then asking if much is coming out but - and I mean what i am about to say next  in the nicest possible way - some of the locals who were fishing had some very vibrant and rich accents which if I am honest resulted in us having only half conversations. That meaning I could only understand half of what they were saying. And as I am too a midlander who lives not far away it is pretty insane that we barley speak the same language. Saying that I got by, and the jist of what they were saying was that a few days of over night rain in Wales had not done the fishing any favours here. So much so that even the locals 'cuuuldunt uven bost owt naw muggowts'.
After trudging all the way back up to Andy we had a quick brain storming session and came to the conclusion that rather than sit here fighting it out in an area we didn't feel confident in we would drop down a few miles to fish the Hampton loade section where Andy said he knew some deep holes under trees on our own bank would be fishable.

By the time we arrived it was nearly dinner time and luckily Andy was spot on with the info. So we settled in a couple of swims on the inside of a slight bend in the river that was bookended by a couple of over hanging trees.
My confidence soared when my first flick found a decent depth in slower water with a nice thump of hard bottom at the end of the cast. My maggot feeder rig even held nicely just on the edge of the main flow.

Straight away the tap tap tap of small fish husking out my maggots made the move to this area feel a great idea. My persistence I thought would pay off when I started getting some decent bites then I landed a small chub. (Which I never bother to photograph as I was convinced I would soon be snapping plump barbel later on.)

I did bag a few more micro chub and miss a very keen bite on the maggot but no Barbel came my way as I sat watching four Kingfishers zipping up and down the river in front of me whilst I the Severn valley railway chugged away behind me. Andy on the other hand did manage one barbel, fishing some rather savoury meat deep under a tree upstream. 
The thought that I still stood a chance on the pellet when the light began fade kept reverberating around in my head as the end of the day drew to a close. But the only surprise I got was when two sheep crept up behind me and simultaneously bleated at the top of their voices, nearly sending me into the river.

As I packed up I cannot deny feeling a little disappointed by the days performance. Especially as the middle Severn according to popular belief supposedly throws up barbel like commercial fishery throws up pasty size carp. But I suppose I can't judge a river by a single chilly session in November. So I will probably be back to try again. 


  1. I remember my first trip to the Severn at Arley in the tail of the 2007 floods Danny, 'Cataclysmically undergunned' does not do justice to the power of that river.

    I ended up with 3 x 2oz leads on a clip swivel to hold bottom about a third across, and that's where I caught a barbel from!

  2. You've finally felt the force of mighty sabrina then. Shame you didn't get a bab, but they don't always play ball, like most fish.

    Those locals would be speaking in the traditional yam yam dialect. It's never been officially recognised as a language as no one has a clue what they're talking about?

  3. The way I've seen some do it when the Severn is up is fish right off the top of the twenty foot high bank to get the highest possible angle and the least line in the water, then scramble down the 60 degree (or worse!) ginnel with the fish on, the net kept at the bottom the whole time !

  4. Awlroight aer kid, sorry yow went all round the Wrekin tryin ta ketch summat. Seems loike yow got a roit lampin. Tarra a bit