Piscatorial Quagswagging

...the diary of a specialist angler in around the Warwickshire Avon and its tributaries.

Tuesday 2 August 2016

The Lower Severn – Live baits and long waits

Bank Cottage in Malvern was the destination for a weekends retreat with the family,I saw it on the off chance and booked it up quickly without consulting her indoors.

"You do you know it’s got the River Severn at the bottom of the garden"

"Really” “I never noticed"

"Yeah, yeah, of cause you didn’t"

"Hey, might as well pack the rods then"

"What, I'm surprised you haven't already"

It was located in The Rhydd not far from BAA’s Severn Stoke stretch and the property apart from having an enclosed garden and balcony overlooking the river it also ‘luckily’ had a fishing platform as well as a further 70metres of fishing rights and obviously gave me the luxury of being able to fish in to dark. Bank Cottage used to house the ferrymen that worked on the Rhydd river crossing up to the First World War, it’s been altered over time but still retains some of the 250 year old features that give it the character.

Now I know bugger all about the River Severn, I’d never even wet a line within its waters but I do know the deeper and slower reaches of the ‘Lower Severn’ contains some big Barbel and Zander and they were to be my target.

So a plan of attack was conjured up a few weeks before which was apart from spending time with and entertaining the family for this long weekend I’d fish a couple or three evening sessions well in to dark and then to reconfirm the youngest Sam’s long standing impatience and his ants in pants syndrome I’d also try a maggot feeder for an hour from time to time during the day once we'd been out and about. Maybe another year for a 5 year old will make all the difference. We’ll see, as I’m enjoying the sanctuary at the minute.

So the tactics to be employed, beer, big baits and long waits….

One rod was to be deployed with the Gluttonous Chub Poka-Yoke Rig, a proven barbel banker using an overly large glugged pellet meant for catfish, and on the second rod a Roach deadbait on a free running set-up fished up to a feature or right in the channel.

I wasn’t expecting quick results but having fished in to dusk and an hour beyond this is a prime feeding time for Big Barbel , fishing with big baits particularly when mounted on a long hair you can ignore the taps and rattles from the smaller fish and wait till the rod properly goes off with the unmistakable bite and centrepin ratchet doing over only a Barbel can manage.

If the large pellet wasn’t doing the business I’d had some large lumps of garlic flavoured meat to hopefully tempt a fish in taking something it couldn’t turn down.

I haven’t really targeted river Zander in anger so I’m very much a novice but the many canal sessions I’ve done have given me a head start, the hook pattern for instance. The areas of canal I fish are devoid of Pike so I haven’t an issue with using fluorocarbon having landed plenty of decent sized fish without a break-off, but as there would likely be some here I changed the hooklink to Drennan wire but essentially it was a running set-up and watching the rod tip for bite indication, ‘barbel’ style.

So how did I do….?

Well a mixed bag....

I'd put a bed of hemp and small pellets down when I got there so when the evening came hopefully it would bring some fish in to the area but throughout the sessions which ended at 11.00 / 11.30pm Barbel were suspicious in their absence, I didn't see any rolling fish or signs of them which was odd but hey, it's a big river so they could be very much localised, it could explain it I suppose. The first dead bait I put down in the evening I managed a small Zander of around 3 or 4 lb and then a small Jack pike and then a long and slender slightly bigger version.

What was apparent thought was the abundance of bleak, every so often shoals of Perch would turn up and the surface disturbance was amazing to see. So a bleak gave Sam his first fish caught on rod and line, he was well chuffed and in-fact before the stone throwing and stick bashing started he gave it a good go. Every morning he wanted to go fishing for an hour which was nice. He caught small dace, perch and even a small Rudd.

He now wants his own rod from Father Christmas....Ben, and the way he is, is not interested in the slightest.

So back to the Barbel....

The problem I found with fishing big lumps of meat in the dark was the huge number of eels that seemed to be about, I thought they were chub bites at first but on retrieving another lump of meat that had been stripped to its skin an Eel was lipped hook and ended up being the first of 4 or 5 I caught. It also meant when fishing in to dark with a deadbait flat on the river bed usually an eel got there before the Zander and more often than not the bait came back stripped to the bone.

Fishing a big pellet and a few squabs seemed to deter the eels somewhat and the Chub were not big enough to manage it but again, no Barbel were caught.

After getting back to the cottage on the last day it was hot and humid and the sun was out, not ideal conditions for Zander but within 10 minutes of putting a roach out, I had a run. I find when fishing running style it's best to the lift the rod and feel for the 'nodding' bite a Zander gives because they can tricky customers to hook sometimes, often dropping the bait. Feel the bite though your fingers and only then strike.

Now that's better a 6lb 6oz fish and a PB river fish. Small for the Severn I know but you have to start somewhere. That fish made me think about how I'd fish the evening, I wanted a bigger fish.

So a change of tactics was needed as I didn't want to get pestered by eels again....

I cobbled together a paternoster set-up and would fish a bleak off the bottom which Sam helped me catch, one of many kept in a bucket of water for use in the evening, not my usually method of catching Zander but I need to do something, it worked too with the first Zander caught a nice 7lb 8oz fat fish that took the bait within minutes of it going out. It had some snap tackle hanging out it's mouth that must have caused some damage. All removed it was safely returned.

Then it went a little mad because over 2 hours I managed another 7 or 8 Zander all around the 4 to 5lb mark, River Severn schoolies were certainly ravenous.

The river must me full of them. Incidentally the small area I fished wasn't as deep as a certain section I know. I now need to try the Warwickshire Avon for them.

Sadly no big fish came to the net, but I'm happy with a river PB all the same.

I'd happily stay at bank cottage again but a long term renter has the place now and we were the last people to have a prior booking honoured. He's a fisherman too, judging by all the tackle left around.

Lucky Sod !!!


  1. Top marks for that location Mick. Not sure I'd get away with it myself. Sounds like you had fun with the river zeds. Hopefully see some from the Avon this season.

    1. I'm sure I will Sean, put a bait in front of them and they cannot refuse it seems. Just need to locate them.

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  3. Nice one Mick, seems as if you really enjoyed yourself, 6-7lb Zander are big fish in my book, very well played! I guess you'll have to return for a Barbel or two....

    1. They gave a cracking scrap which was nice. The area I fished seemed to have Zander in numbers, shame I cannot give it as much effort as I did with the canal,bet there are some monsters to had. I can only imagine what a fish nearly 3 times the size would be like. I'm planning try for them on the Avon soon though, meant to be some sizeable fish around too.

  4. Not bad Mick. The zander do provide goo sport and I have never understood the texts that say they don't fight as they always seem to put a good bend in the rod. Shame about the barbel but perhaps you could arrange your next visit for autumn when they defintely start to play and the eels back off a bit. All the best.

    1. Cheers for the info before I went Lee, put me in good stead, appreciated...


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