If you’ve just stumbled across this blog you may not realise it’s been dormant for many years. As a carp angler I’ve published all my writing on the North West Carp Blog so please feel free to take a look if it’s carp fishing you’re interested in.
Early July saw me take a break from carp fishing as I headed south from my base in Wirral to the River Severn in Shropshire. My target for the day was River Severn barbel. Although I’ve caught the odd barbel in the past from the River Teme I’d never had one from the Severn so my mission for the day was to put that right and catch one.
My tackle for the day was an old carp rod with a 1.75lb test curve, it was my floater rod but being so light it was ideal to use for barbel fishing. The rod was coupled with an old Aero GT 4500 Shimano Baitrunner Reel loaded with 15lb Pro Gold Line, a proper carp setup if ever there was one, perhaps it was a little excessive for barbel fishing but it was a short notice trip and I didn’t have enough time to pick up and load a new spool of line. I do like to use gear that’s heavy enough to land my fish too, if I’m going to be sitting there all day I certainly don’t want to lose any fish I hook so a heavy breaking strain line suits me nicely. (Oh the best laid plans!) lol.
My end rig was 2 feet of 15lb Kryston Merlin, a green coloured sinking braid that I just happened to have in my tackle box. My hook was a size 12 Korda Kurv and my bait was a couple of the old style elips pellets superglued either side of the braided hair, this was fished knotless knot style with a Guru Tackle Heavy Feeder fished running on the line. Bait for the day was Dynamite Marine Halibut Groundbait laced with mixed trout pellets, elips pellets and a tin of spam.
I was advised that early season Severn barbel are quite often found in the fast and shallow runs due to the well oxygenated water, I had a friend with me and he knew one run in particular that was always good for a fish so he kindly pointed it out to me and I accepted his advice and dropped into a nice gravelly peg that was very comfortable to fish, no awkward banks and a little cover to hide from the hot July sun too.
I started with a dozen large feeder fulls of groundbait and pellets fished just above some fallen willows on the far bank. Once the bait was in I set about tying up a couple of rigs in order to give the swim time to settle. Once I was set up properly I re-loaded my guru feeder and dropped my first cast on the money. Surprisingly my swim remained quiet for an hour or so, it was a really hot day, certainly in the mid 20’s and the bright conditions weren’t helping. Out of the blue I got a quick knock on the rod tip that indicated fish were finally in my swim, 5 minutes later my rod tip buckled and my baitrunner went into meltdown as a barbel took my elips pellets and headed off downstream towards the willows. I was on it in a flash and I had a great scrap from a typical shoal sized barbel of just under 6lb. I phoned my mate Mike who kindly came to photograph my first severn barbel and a top job he did too. (Thanks mate).
Returning the fish was easy enough, I had a really shallow eddy in front of me and a pair of Wellies on so I was able to wade out and hold my barbel in the flow for a few minutes until it had fully recovered, only when it was ready did I let it go and my prize swam off strongly which is always nice to see.
After catching my first Severn barbel my swim went quiet for the rest of the day and I made my first mistake, I should have moved on and roved the river to search out some more fish but I made the mistake of staying in the same swim and just rotating my baits during the day. I paid the price for that with no more bites until 9pm.
During the day I did some filming with my Go Pro Video Camera and one thing I managed to capture was the reaction of small fish like minnows, dace and chub to groundbait. Just watching the video back it makes you wonder just how much of your feed is left after 5 minutes in the water. The fry completely obliterated my dynamite groundbait and it was gone in no time. Watching them I decided to put more and larger pellets in with my groundbait just to make sure I still had some bait in my swim after 5 minutes. I intend to make sure there are some bigger baits in my feeder all the time from now on, especially given what happens in the video below, just click and have a watch!.
As the sun went down over the trees it was like someone just flicked a switch and the river came alive. My mate mike started catching and I got myself another run myself, this bite was even more vicious than the first one and when I struck into the fish I knew instantly it was a big one. For 5 minutes I tussled with this fish, I gained 5 or 6 yards only to lose it again and 5 minutes into the fight I found the fish was back in the same place I’d hooked it with me neither gaining or losing line as it held in the current. At this point the fish decided to wake up properly and it turned downstream and went on a blistering run, I clamped down on the baitrunner spool to try and stop the fish reaching the sanctuary of the willows and it literally flat rodded me, a few seconds later my 15lb line parted and I was left with that horrible empty feeling you get when you know you’ve just lost something special.
I was gutted at the loss and to make matters worse the fight had trashed my swim, I did manage a 3lb chub an hour later but as far as the barbel were concerned that was my last chance of the day. I thoroughly enjoyed my days barbel fishing and I’m already making plans for a return visit, the loss of that fish is still on my mind and I feel I need to make amends for that loss so my river severn barbel adventure will be continuing soon.