The Reverend Stewart Bloor, perhaps better known as Sedge in the pages of FISHINGmagic, is an ordained Minister and Director of the Sedgley International Christian Ministries.

He is also a very keen angler, having come back to the sport in 1995 following a break of several years. In this regular column he will tell us about his progress as an angler – his thoughts about the sport, what he learns, the fishing trips he makes, the anguish, the humour, in fact everything he experiences as his angling career develops.

Back down to earth on the Sow

In my last fishing report I wrote about my trip to the Dove that had resulted in the capture of two double figure barbel. This was to be my last session for nine days. Now, I know to many reading this that sounds about normal, having that sort of time between fishing trips. But, as someone who gets out, on average three times a week, it is a positive eternity! The reason for my enforced lay off was due to the fact that I was involved in a weeklong teaching course. And as I was the sole teacher, there was no way I could skive off for an afternoon or two!

Not quite 3lb, but all February fish are welcome
The night before my next fishing trip came round, I felt like a child on Christmas Eve. I couldn’t sleep due the fact that I was going fishing the next day! It may sound silly to some, but I’m sure that many of you reading this right now will smile inwardly as you relate to what I’m saying. In fact it’s my sincere wish that feeling of excitement towards angling never leaves me. I love that sense of almost childlike emotion I feel when the thought of going fishing enters my mind!

On the M6 Sow-bound carriageway

Although I had to work in the morning, early afternoon saw me driving north on the M6 to connect with the River Sow near Stafford. The air temperature had dropped considerably from my recent barbel excursions on the Dove. Combined with some sharp overnight frosts, this was not the time to be fishing for barbel. With the rivers, in the main, back in their banks, it was time to pursue my interest in that most obliging of fish, the chub.

Arriving at the river, it looked great. A nice bit of colour, but not in flood, and with a surprisingly high water temperature of 8c, it was warm enough to go for barbel! However, it was chub that I had come to do business with, and after baiting up a few swims with mashed bread I was then ready to do battle with what is probably my favourite species.


Favourite for bread fishing
I fished with size 6 Drennan Super Specialist hooks. I really do rate them when fishing with bread or paste as the thick gauge of the hook enables the bait to be moulded more effectively than with a thinner hook. On this occasion I was intending to fish with bread, so the choice of hook was perfect.

When using lower breaking strain hook lengths, for several years I’ve been fishing with Drennan Team England Rig Line. (Drennan does not sponsor me, by the way!)

It’s never let me down
Although it’s been out for a few years and other, newer brands have been brought out; it has never let me down so I stick with it. If something is not broken, why fix it?

I tied my hook to the 4lb breaking strain line. Many anglers think along the lines of what is the lightest breaking strain they can get away with, whereas I tend to think the opposite. I fish with the heaviest line that I can in the situation. Think about it, it makes sense, particularly to a specimen angler.

I didn’t have to wait long before I had my first fish of the session, a chub just under 3lb. Certainly not a monster fish by any stretch of the imagination, but it was just nice to feel that bend in the rod once more. The rest of the session produced another couple of chub and a bream. All the fish were roughly the same weight, more or less the same as the first one caught. But after nine days of withdrawal symptoms setting in, it was definitely good to be back at the water’s edge.

Now for a different stretch

A couple of days later saw me again heading for another afternoon session on the Sow. This time I visited a different stretch, one that I have only fished occasionally. Once I was there I realised it was the last venue I fished before Foot and Mouth broke out in 2001. And by coincidence, it was exactly one year to the day when the dreaded disease was first spotted. Passing by lots of lambs on my way to the river it was encouraging to see at least one farmer that was still in business.

I only had one bite which, fortunately, I hit and then subsequently landed the fish. I didn’t bother to weigh the chub, but it was about one and a half pounds. It was certainly a feisty fish and put up a good fight. Most of the Sow chub I’ve been catching have been in the upper 2’s to 4lb bracket.

Although I just had the one fish, the session was worthwhile if only for what happened as dusk came. As the light faded, the meadow opposite was occupied by a grazing fallow deer doe and her fawn. Although Cannock Chase was a little distance away, the absolute serenity of the area had drawn them out of the dense woodland that protected them during the hours of daylight.

I observed them for quite some time, trying to keep a balance between watching my quiver tip and the animals opposite. Fortunately, they were both in a similar position, as far as my view was concerned, so I was able to keep a watchful eye on two things at the same time, the animals and my rod.

As darkness drew in, I lost sight of the deer, but I became aware of the fact that the wind was starting to blow very strongly. Coupled with heavy rain, it became a difficult task to try to keep the Brotel from taking off. It seems that much of my fishing lately has coincided with adverse weather conditions.

Still, I’m not complaining. It beats watching Eastenders, Coronation Street or Emmerdale any day in my book. Mind, trudging back to the car, covered in mud and drenched in the downpour, I may have been tempted momentarily to disagree with what I’ve just wrote. But once I was driving home, heater on full and Stevie Wonder’s ‘Fulfillingness’ First Finale’ on the CD player, I was already planning my next fishing trip!

And on my third trip……..

And two days later my plans were realised when I decide to complete the week with a third visit to the Sow. The previous couple of days had seen lots of rain. Nothing heavy, but fairly persistent at times. Passing over the River Penk on the journey northwards, it looked in good condition. As it flows into the Sow just a few miles further on, I imagined that river too, to be in decent nick.

The fence posts
How wrong I was though. The river was right up to the top of the banks, and in places had actually spilled over and started to consume the meadow that ran alongside it. Even the stumps that remain as relics of a long gone fence were well and truly about to be submerged. And I’m usually fishing between them and the river. To do so on this session I would have needed a wet suit and aqualung!

Taking the water temperature it was not very encouraging to discover that it had plummeted by 50% in a couple of days. I knew it would be hard going, and indeed it was. Forsaking my original plan of mashed bread into a number of swims, I decided to fish a small piece of Peperami in a reasonable looking swim. I didn’t even get a twitch, and to be honest I would have been surprised if I did. I know that doesn’t sound very confident, and perhaps it isn’t. But as anglers, we also have to be realistic as well.

Back down to Earth and curled up in the warmth

It was bitterly cold, and again driving winds and rain made fishing difficult as the session wore on. Although, for me personally, the worst part about fishing is packing up, on this occasion it was almost a relief to get back to the car and begin to thaw out on the journey back home. My fingers were actually hurting with the cold and even with turning the vents to blow hot air on my knuckles as I drove, it took some time before I entered the ‘land of the warm’ again.

So, after a couple of very successful sessions on the River Dove, it was definitely a case of ‘Back down to earth on the Sow’. Still, that’s the way it is, and that’s the way I’ll tell it. When I catch something good, you’ll hear about it, but equally, when I’m struggling to get amongst the fish, the story will still be told, warts and all!

I got home in time to watch the British ladies win a gold medal in the curling event at the Winter Olympics. I first came across the sport several years ago, in Canada, when I saw an inter-Province game on TV. The thing that fascinated me the most was the technique that involved brushing the ice. Curling is ridiculed by many, although it is my bet that there will be a rise in its popularity due to the Olympics.

It’s a bit like fishing really, viewed from the outside without a real understanding of what it is all about, it’s often an object of derision. But if the ‘powers that be’ ever make ice fishing an Olympic sport, I may enter the British team. After all, I’ve had enough experience of sitting out in adverse conditions, when everyone else thinks I’m mad. Who knows? I could even win a gold medal!

I’m not that old that I can’t remember a few of the things I learned at School. And so, in next Thursday’s Pilgrim’s Progress I want to draw on some of the lessons I recall from English grammar. Well, at least in the title anyway!

Join me next week when I tell you how ‘A gudgeon takes me back in time…perch, grayling and brown trout keep me in the present….and a marker float helps me with the future!’ Confused? Check out FISHINGmagic next Thursday when all will be revealed!

The Reverend Stewart R Bloor
Sedgley International Christian Ministries
PO Box 1216, Dudley. DY3 1GW.
Telephone : 01384 – 828033
Web site :
e-mail :

Pilgrim’s Progress – read it every Thursday!