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A guest article from Mark and Sue Anderson “Barbel fishing in the Severn and Teme Valley”

Matt Hayes drifted downstream, in the canoe was Mick Brown, and their guide. They ended up fishing from an island, and camping for the night, great viewing. It obviously entered my subconscious, because in another series called Mainstream, Matt got off the Severn valley railway steam train at Hampton Lode and did a bit of fishing, and I thought that me, and Sue, would have some of that. Little did I know what an effect those programs would have on the last few years of our lives. It had been some time since we have had a holiday in this country, for many years going abroad with the kids, having a great time in the Med, and Disney Land in Florida. We had, in fact, had mini-breaks for our wedding anniversary, and often chose Hampshire to fish the Avon, as this is where we spent our honeymoon. Unfortunately this is at the end of February, and never seemed to coincide with good fishing weather, so we always failed miserably with the barbel fishing. We loved the area though, and stayed in some nice places.

In 2003 it was to be different. We could go for a few days in July, so should be in with a shout of nice weather, it was just where to go? Hampshire would be easy, as we knew where to go, and stay, but the old worm in my head was niggling me to go to the Severn. I scanned the mags, and booked 3 days in a b&b at Arley, and info said the river upstream, and downstream, of there held plenty of barbel. So that was it, there is a fork in the road outside Oxford, left for the Avon, right for the Severn, the indicator blinked, and we were Shropshire bound.

We had a really easy going three days. The b&b was very nice, with a nice pub within walking distance. The water round this area is controlled for long lengths by Birmingham Anglers, with a few day ticket stretches, and it was one of these that we had a go at. We fished the first evening for a few hours, dropping pva bags a third of the way over, and Sue’s rod beside a tree below us. After a blank couple of hours we bumped into the owner, whom we got to know well over the years. He showed us a swim that had produced a few the day before, it was very snaggy, with boulders,and rocks claiming lots of tackle, so we returned the next morning. My rod out to the left with a feeder, and Sues rod out 2/3rds of the way across. Disaster, her rod which had caught so many barbel, broke first cast!!. I left her fishing, and shot of to a tackle shop in Bewdley a few miles away. Disaster number 2, after showing me a lot of very light rods, not really up to the job, I ended up buying the only barbel rod he had for more than double the price it was advertised for in the monthly mags!!. Back in the swim Sue was yet to have any indications of fish, but this was to change, with barbel flashing and rolling all over the river. I won’t go into all the captures, but we had a magical day, buzzards flying overhead, smoke from the steam engines drifting down on us, and the most violent thunder storm that raised the water level. Most of all, twelve incredibly hard fighting barbel, that used the flow to double their size, with the best at 8lb. Huddled under the umbrella making tea, watching the rods being pulled off the rests, top stuff. We were hooked, and would be back!!.

Remember the Mainstream program I mentioned at the start?, well as the camera panned across the view of Hampton Lode, just up from the station was a white, black beamed, farm house. It was here we were based for our next visit in 2004. I found this two bedroomed cottage on the net, with a lovely old lady who ran the place, that suited our needs to be more independent, compared to the b&b type of holiday. We liked the Severn, and would fish our day ticket stretch again, but Sue loves the small intimate type of rivers, so I suggested looking at the river Teme. After a day of catching a few fish from the Severn, we set off for a stretch of the Teme run by Birmingham anglers at Eastham Bridge. I had gathered some info from a fellow BFW member, who had even given us a run down of half a dozen good swims, and where he had caught fish from in the past. With all the homework done we could not go wrong could we?, well we did!!. Despite the correct information, we fished like prats, and deserved what we caught, nothing!!. There are times when you must put your hands up, and say you got it wrong. We ended up back at the car for a cuppa, the weather had been cool, with a bit of rain, but the sun had come out to make it a balmy afternoon.

“Barbel Island” at Hampton Loade

Sue got the b.a.a. club book out, and started to look at other stretches to have a go at. We set off for a couple of stretches near by, but they looked a little on the busy side, so we pulled the car over to consult the map. Remember that fork in the road?, well it was left to a stretch in the middle reaches, or right to go lower down the valley. The indicator blinked, and the car went right, and changed our holiday, and next 3 years of fishing!. We pulled up at the new stretch after travelling down the Teme valley, to find the car park empty. We strolled along the bank looking for likely spots, and with the water having a tinge of colour, and the sun coming out things felt good. We dropped into a swim with a snaggy tree downstream that Sue wanted to fish to, and a willow on the far side for me, so we could both sit together. After 15 mins, Sue had a line bite, with this being the first indication all day it was like a electric shock making her jump. It was not long before the rod wrapped round, and after a tussle she has a 4lb(‘ish) fish in the net. She smiled for the camera, and said “I like this river“. It was 15 mins later, and a fish of about 6lb took the pellet, both fish had given turbo-charged fights, taking line repeatedly, making Sue say some strange words!!. We rested the swim, made a cuppa, and had a fag.

“A Bend in the Rod”

Sue then swung the hook bait back down to the snag, pva bag of pellets and pellet powder nicked on the hook. I layed back on the bank which hours earlier had been slippery red mud with the rain, but had now dried out, and was dropping off. This time I heard the reel hitting the rod rest as the barbel bolted. Sue hung on for grim death, with the fish at one point getting snagged up. The 12lb line held, and the fish swung out into safe water. The fish gave it the big one, with one big bolt downstream almost tearing the rod out of her hands, but pressure told, and into the net it went. A personal best for Sue at 11lb, and was she happy?, are bananas yellow?. Floated all the way back to the cottage, and went for a slap up Indian in Bridgenorth. Funny thing though, we have fished that swim many times, and the spot she had those three fish from has not been that productive. In fact, the willow that I was blanking under that evening has out fished it by many barbel, with ‘my’ side of the swim being the best bet. Perhaps its because I paid the river, flipping a sliver coin into the water before casting out !!!.

“Are bananas yellow?”

Now in 2007 we have been fishing in some of the best surroundings in the country. The Severn, and Teme valley are superb, wild life is incredible, buzzards and kites are common. Tucked up under a tree one day staring at the rod tip, a tree creeper came past our shoulders on the tree trunk we were leaning on. We have met some top people as well, and made many friends. It also led to joining the Temesevern lads , and for many years was involved in testing baits , and becoming good friends with the other members of the bait team .That cottage in Hampton is still there, and we have stayed in some nice places, but we often sleep in the car, as it has us by our throats!!.

What that week, that evening, and that fish did do, was to show me the path my fishing would now take. It re-lit a fire that was slowly going out in my carp fishing. I had over the years fished many good carp waters, Savay, Pit 3, Vauxhalls, Yately, and Horseshoe, but I was struggling to find that ‘place’ where I could lay my hat. Sue had been doing it for years, and I had been a fool not to see what fishing it was. Now due to the fork in the road, I have found the path, and the path will always lead me to that moving water, and almost certainly the river Teme.

Mark (hatterbarbel) Anderson 2007

6 Responses to “A guest article from Mark and Sue Anderson “Barbel fishing in the Severn and Teme Valley””

  1. Excellent read Mark.

  2. Cracking read :)

  3. Great read.

    This sums it all up for me

    “I have found the path, and the path will always lead me to that moving water”


  4. Lovely little read,just what fishing should be ,having the craic and catching a few . Thanks for sharing Mark and Sue.

  5. Nice read. Ive fished the Teme for many years and totally agree with what youve written. A magical river.

  6. Hi Mark, good to see you and Sue have found another stretch to call ‘home’.

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