Flowing an appalling wet winter where water temperatures dropped below 1.4° for extended periods, what seemed like constant rain, a couple of heavy snowfalls, the river was almost in perpetual flood, everyone looked forward to better weather for the start of the new season. So, with this as a backdrop to the advent of the new season the unpredictable British Weather had a few more surprises for us, my fishing diary has the following entry from 1st August.
“Looking at my catch returns I have not been fishing since 31 October 2017 some nine months. We had one of the wettest winters for years coupled with heavy snowfalls. The river was up and down like a yo-yo with the water temperature dropping as low as 1.4° fishing was impossible. The season ended, and so for the next three months I looked forward to opening day. Planning all sorts of scenarios, one objective is to fish at least two new venues, stocked up on bait, keen to try Robin Red as recommended by Lawrence Breakspear at last year’s Atcham Barbel Fish in. However, as opening day approached spring very quickly turned into a very hot summer which has continued into August without any sign of a break in the weather.”
In the event My season did not start until the middle of August, my notes state the water temperature was 21° C, what a contrast from the depths of the winter. The 16th June dawned hot and sunny without rain, causing river levels to drop, bright days together with low clear levels are far from ideal for Barbel fishing so I decided to postpone fishing trips until more conducive weather prevailed, also the river was so low below the banks some swims were impossible to land fish even with a ten foot landing net handle there was also a concern about fish welfare in these conditions.
As days turned to weeks, concern for fish welfare came to the fore, several well respected experienced anglers from Lymm and other Clubs I belong to, posted on Forums their intention to refrain from fishing whilst these conditions persisted. The Barbel Society imposed a temporary ban on waters they controlled, stating, low dissolved oxygen levels may impact on the welfare of fish stocks. Phil O Callaghan, Bailiff for the Clubs Severn & Vyrnwy waters worked tirelessly visiting the waters daily also liaising with the Environment Agency, the Angling Trust etc., to understand low dissolved oxygen levels and how it impacts on fish stocks and the environment, based on Phil’s finding along with additional scientific information available to the Club, the Committee imposed a temporary ban on fishing all club rivers and other precautionary measures on all Club Waters until conditions improved.
Mid to late August saw the ban lifted, whilst this was welcome news for all River anglers it bought its own issues in the form of weed growth which had prolificated in bright sunshine and low water levels also some pegs had become overgrown and needed work parties to re-establish them.
Paul Edwards has also had a busy shortened season, with some notable catches at Forton (Montford bridge) and Rossall, two sessions produced multiple catches of Barbel both included double figure fish, sharing his experience on the Forum Paul also reported of a further night session at Forton which resulted in two Chub weighing in at 6lb & 6lb 2oz.
Despite the adverse weather conditions which prevailed from last winter until mid-August Sabrina is in remarkable condition bourn out by the catch returns, both in terms of volume and quality, it appears more double figure Barbel have been reported this season than in a long while, Chub over 5lb have also featured at all venues.
Initially there was some doubt about holding the Club’s Annual Barbel Day scheduled for the first of September, but with temperatures returning to seasonal normal the event went ahead and what a cracker it turned out to be.
Annual Barbel Day
Conceived many years ago the Annual “Fish In” or “Barbel Day” is an initiative to introduce members to River fishing with an emphasis on Barbel particularly to encourage youngsters, the main objective being to help newcomers catch a Barbel on the day. A bonus this year, we were joined by that Consummate all round big fish angler and Drennan Cup Winner Dai Gribble. Obviously, the days Topic was Barbel, kicking off with Dai’s choice of tackle, set up, bait, venues, swims, rigs much along the lines of his recent articles in Anglers Mail on Barbel fishing also touching on bite alarms when night fishing for Barbel. Korum, Dai’s sponsor had very kindly donated a large amount of tackle as prizes in a free to enter raffle, items included a Rod, several Reels, line, Bank Sticks, everyone present won a prize!
Dai was encouraged to relate his catches which led to his winning the Drennan Cup, very interesting stories soon to be published in Dai’s new Book ”
Chasing Dreams”. Following the presentation anglers settled into the swims where Dai offered individual advice & tips.
I love this photograph, Dave was coaching young Evan, his first Barbel headed for cover and was Snagged, Dave was able explain how to free snagged fish. Evan’s face shows it all.
A resounding success was the verdict from participants, almost all reporting multiple catches and as far as I am aware only one blank. Particularly pleasing, both the youngsters present featured in the day’s captures.
New River Severn Club Record Announced.
A new Club Record for a River Seven Barbel has just been announced. Russ Ousby fishing Lymm’s stretch at Llandrinio landed the new record weighting 13lb 14oz, Russ a regular visitor to the venue tells me having walked the banks regularly during the closed season was able to observe shoals of Barbel throughout the length and planned a campaign to capture the larger individuals.
Fishing just after the temporary ban on River fishing was lifted and fishing in one of the areas where he had previously observed fish, following a little pre-baiting Russ cast a hair rigged single 8mm pellet on 10lb hook length attached to 12lb main line using a 1.75 rod. The Expectations are if a large Barbel is hooked then the “3 Foot Twitch or a “Wrap Around” will result, however, in this case it was slow steady bobbing pull. It was a dogged battle, with the fish attempting to dive into deeper water, take refuge behind rocks or to find a snag, the fight gave no indication of just how big this Barbel was until Russ saw it in the net whilst attempting to lift it out of the water.
After careful weighing and photographing, given the low water and weather conditions at the time, Russ rested the fish for over half an hour under constant observation and monitoring, prior to returning it to the water where it swam off strongly none the worse for its encounter. Russ is of the opinion the fish was a female probably about 20 years old so requires careful handling, whilst confident the fish was returned unharmed Russ nevertheless returned to the water the following day just to check.
The Chub Day
Following the success of the annual Barbel day Phil O’Callaghan The Clubs head Bailiff suggested a similar event for Chub. Details were posted on the Forum and received a good response the venue was to be Llandrinio, the purpose of these days are to foster the interaction between members, so they may benefit by sharing information on venues, bait, methods and tactics it also encourages Club spirit together the opportunity to explore new venues.
After many posts giving and offering advice on tackle, baits etc, the day finally dawned a little chilly with a dozen anglers gathering below the barely visible Rodney’s Pillar shrouded in mist. Its always good to catch up with fellow members with the opportunity to put a Face to a Forum Name. Russ Ousby, holder of the new Club Record for a River Severn Barbel from this venue, shared his knowledge of the this stretch of River suggesting baits and tactics, Russ had also arranged secure parking at the Boat House courtesy of Freda & Peter, More about the facilities on offer there may be found on the clubs forum.
The Group spread out along about a mile of River, the sun came up to warm us, low in the sky this time of year and with high banks the impact on the water was minimal, the water temperature was 9.7° a slight increase on the previous day, with conditions set fair, hopes and enthusiasm were very high for a good days fishing.
Small feeders or a stick float were the two most used tactics, the most popular baits Maggots or Bread. As the day wore on it became obvious anglers were in for a hard slog in the event catches were very poor, the tally was two Grayling for Woody, a Chub and a Trout for Andy, Ed managed a hungry 3” Salmon Parr and I think that was about!
A post mortem on the day concluded it was an off day for River Fishing, the thinking being with a dozen experienced anglers along a mile of river, someone should have had a few fish, also for the last couple of weeks all the Facebook groups were reporting the fishing was patchy in the extreme.
Cockney Bob had a bad start to his river fishing career not only blanking but falling over twice on the slippery banks, a warning to us all, riverbanks can be dangerous.
Despite the poor results everyone enjoyed the day and is up for another, there was even talk about a PIKE day in January!!!
Another Fine Specimen From Llandrinino.
Looking at my own records year on year, the indications are the average size of Barbel is on the increase. whilst in the absence of detailed records the premise is somewhat subjective, nevertheless the Maxim that states the only “Constant is Change” is true for rivers, which constantly change sometimes showing great improvements other times in decline. The winters of 2006 / 7 and 2010 with high level flooding had a profound effect on fish stocks.
Just a final note on Llandrinio, Rossall and Forton, not quite as popular as Atcham, however most of the larger specimens this year came from them, including the new Record Barbel which Beat Phil’s Record 12lb + which came out of Rossell. The fish are there, it just needs a little more thought, diligence and tenacity to catch them.
As we go to press Dai Gribble has just announced the launch of his new book “Beyond Dreams” it looks to be a cracker. Here is the link:-http://www.beyond-dreams.co.uk
© Christie, December 2018