Barbel Fishing – The Pope’s River Diary: November
This month sees Steve making the most of the late autumn warmth, having a few problems with his motor and being mobbed by female fans in Bewdley (he hopes...)
“The mellow year is hastening to its close;
The little birds have almost sung there last,”
Coleridge says it so much better than I.
Yep, winter is almost here but sitting out on the river at ten in the evening under a cloudless sky and still feeling relatively warm you would be hard pressed to believe it!
No moans from me, unlike Welchy’s diary this month I hate fishing in the cold and am pleased to drag every last hour from this ‘Indian Autumn’ before it’s all about thermal long johns and socks and all the other apparel that goes with an angler’s winter.
I note that the big man, Mark Barrett, is just about getting under way with his guiding days whereas mine have come to a close for this year. The shortened days, the variable levels and unreliable temperatures all serve to play havoc with barbel fishing days, certainly from a guiding perspective, but as one door closes another opens wide and it’s my time now, well at least until it gets too damned cold and then I’ll be off to sunnier climes down under!
As if to confirm my point the last few guiding days proved to be quite difficult in respect of fish caught which, although only part of the story on these days, is quite an important part! I even experienced a couple of blanks – there, that’s not something that is always readily admitted by those of us who put our fingers on the keyboard! It happens though and it’s all part of the game and to be fair I think most of us would actually turn it in if we knew we would catch every single time we set out.
One of those fishless days was in the company of Alan, a really smashing guy who I had never met previously but had come across on the Barbel Society forum. Now I mention Alan because I had already built a mental picture of what he would be like from his...let’s just say slightly different style of posting! It just goes to show how wrong you can be as he turned out to be a really pleasant, quiet, easy going sort of guy and he smiled when he told me he deliberately put up a smokescreen while in his forum persona.
While we were sitting together by the river chatting away Alan asked me if I would be offended if we didn’t weigh any fish we might be fortunate enough to catch, he added that for him just seeing the fish in the folds of the landing net was good enough, he truly had no interest whatsoever in weights or measures. I have to admit I had never come across this view before and Alan was totally sincere and it did make me think.
As the day passed by I was able to connect quite well with Alan and his outlook, not only on fishing but on many things, proving to me once again what an enlightening experience it has been meeting up with so many different people for a day’s fishing.
I must also mention Bob the fireman, I say fireman but I really should put an ex in front because Bob was enjoying a day out with me courtesy of the guys at the fire station who had laid on the day as part of his retirement present. (A big thank you to Bob Roberts who had pointed the guys in my direction). We had a great day together, caught some fish and generally put the world to rights but it was after Bob had left that the really started.
Now I’m no mechanic but when the gear lever comes away from where it’s supposed to be attached even someone with my extremely limited knowledge realises that all’s not quite right! Unlike my old mate Fred Crouch, I’m a member of the AA and have all the add-ons, it’s false economy not to take advantage of what they offer especially when, like me, you cover a fair few miles in pursuit of barbel.
I mention Fred because the stories I could tell about the many motoring mishaps I have experienced with him when we regularly fished together would fill a book.There was the time we set off from Enfield in Fred’s wife’s car which, at the time, had a faulty petrol gauge.
“Not to worry,” said Fred, “Pat has filled the tank and we have more than enough to get to the Teme and back.”
Two hours later I reminded him of those words as we ground to a halt on the M40 miles from anywhere!
And then there was the time his old truck just made it onto the rather large roundabout where the A4 crosses the M4 and immediately decided to conk out bang in the middle of the rush hour.
“Got a mobile phone then Fred? You in the AA Fred?” says I.
There then followed one of those rare and priceless moments when dear Fred was lost for words save for a spluttering, sheepish,
“No but you have that covered, don’t you?”
It’s a good job I love the old boy, it’s what friendship is all about and we laughed about it then - and we still do today.
Anyway, back to my predicament. With a disconnected gear stick in one hand and mobile in the other I managed to get through to the AA. Forty minutes later the big yellow van pulled into the car park and out stepped the man who would hopefully solve all of my mechanical problem; my salvation.
He did too - well - he managed to get the gear lever attachment sorted, the trouble was he adjusted the clutch and as he went to test the pedal that came away from its rightful place, we were having a ‘mare!
That was that, he was very good but this was outside of his range and calls were made to sort out the pick-up and relay to get me back home, 150 miles away. To cut a long story short I walked through the front door just before midday, it had taken the best part of twelve hours and two different drivers but I made it and have to say I’m extremely grateful to the great service of the Automobile Association.
But I had another problem; I should have been on the river meeting Nick who had won a day out with me through the BS Research and Conservation auction. More frantic calls and Pete Reading came to the rescue but the fishing was hard for them both and Nick blanked, I’ll be making sure he gets his day out as promised next summer.
While mentioning the R and C auction this year’s event will be taking place really soon and there are some excellent items up for grabs, make sure you don’t miss out.
My local garage fixed the car and I was soon mobile once again, I needed to be because my next stop was Bewdley on the banks of the glorious River Severn.
Actually my destination was the tackle shop, Bewdley Tackle and Leisure, along with Des Taylor, Lol Breakspear and Steve Williams I had been invited along to push the barbel side of things. I can tell you we were mobbed, the crowds were out of control, old ladies were in tears...I jest of course, it was more a case of ‘Who’s that?’ rather than Take That! It was a nice day though, we chatted to lots of customers and Des as always was on tremendous form.
I’ve written before of my admiration for Des he is, in my opinion, a proper legend and a true larger than life character. What I like about Des is that you can disagree over issues like the close season but after points have been made it’s a shake of hands and back to the friendly business.
Plus he’s big enough to say when he has got something wrong, the stocking of stillwater barbel being a case in point. As I say I like the bloke and hope I can get to fish with him again because he is the funniest man around and it really is a laugh a minute.
After Bewdley it was back down south to meet up with fellow syndicate members for what we rather optimistically call our Gentleman’s Day, I think we stretch the literal meaning somewhat with our label though!
The fishing was hard going, I persevered with an all-out meatball attack and ended up with nothing for the effort, Rich and Pete both managed a double apiece and then it was off to the pub for a slap up dinner and with Mr Tarrant holding court, a great time was had by all.
Now I must mention my mate Gerry. Gerry lives in Manchester but spent a lot of time in London and through business we know a lot of the same people, he is a great supporter of the Barbel Society and always gets involved with the auction. We had two days booked on the Wye, I say two, it turned out to be just the one and I’ll tell you why.
The day we actually fished was incredibly slow, we worked very hard but the barbel weren’t having it, although Gerry landed a small one. We drove the short distance back to the B&B I had booked only to be told that the booking was for the following day and as they were full we would have to go elsewhere for the night.
It didn’t take us long to decide to forget the second day and make arrangements to catch up again in a few weeks, Gerry had to get back anyway because the big match was coming up. Gerry is a lifelong United man and has his own box at Old Trafford, and he was looking forward to watching the reds wallop the blues - well you know the rest!
The text I received read thus; “Imagine Arsenal beating Spurs like that, magnify it by ten – that’s how I felt and I stayed till the bitter end!”
I replied, “It’s not been the best of weeks Gerry!”
When I check back through my diaries I note that November 5th has always been kind to me in terms of a nice sized barbel (interesting you should mention that Steve, it’s easily my best day of the entire calendar for big barbel over the years – Ed) so it was a highly expectant angler who set off for the Lower Severn for a three day session that would take in Guy Fawkes Night.
Unfortunately for me this year was to be an exception and apart from one barbel lost at the net that was it. I can hardly bring myself to mention the bream, dozens of them, I must have broken Dave Harrell’s Severn record on each day!
Why is it these things only struggle when you are taking the hook out? If you enjoy bream fishing - and I’m told there are those that do - you could do worse than fish the Lower Severn, it’s stuffed with them and they must be approaching double figure size.
I’m not one to give in though and was back on the river a few days later and although the barbel were once again conspicuous by their absence one nice one did put in a welcome appearance after picking up my 8mm pellet at two in the afternoon - all’s well that ends well.
I’m looking forward to the upcoming Severn Rivers Trust seminar in a week or so and tomorrow I’m off for a few days fishing the Lower - while the weather lasts!
I’ll let Mr Coleridge – that’s Hartley Coleridge - have the last words:
“The russet leaves obstruct the straggling way
Of oozy brooks, which no deep banks define,
And the gaunt woods, in ragged scant array
Wrap their old limbs with sombre ivy-twine.”
By the Same Author
- Barbel Fishing – The Pope’s River Diary
- Barbel Fishing – The Pope’s River Diary: February 2013
- Barbel Fishing – The Pope’s River Diary: January 2013
- Barbel Fishing - The Wye Valley Experience 2013
- Barbel Fishing – The Pope’s River Diary: December 2012
- Barbel Fishing - The Pope's River Diary: November 2012
- Barbel Fishing - The Pope’s River Diary: October 2012
- Barbel Fishing - The Pope's River Diary: September 2012
- Barbel Fishing – The Pope’s River Diary: August
- Barbel Fishing - The Pope’s River Diary: July