Lee Swords Fishing

Just another WordPress site


Guest article…In search of an Upper Severn Monster Barbel – by Jerry Gleeson

In search of an Upper Severn Monster

by Jerry Gleeson

Having been lucky enough to catch quite a few monster barbel from my local river I decided I needed a new challenge, now living in a barbel wilderness and not being able to drive this posed a bit of a problem, I didn’t want it to be too easy and as such due to travelling I didn’t want it to be overly hard, where should I go that was the question?

Whilst looking on the Barbel Society forum recently I came across some interest in an old article called “Monstro” it was an article written back in the 90′s, anyway after finally having a read it got me going a bit, so that was it for me, my mind was made up, I was off to the upper Severn and this is where I wanted my new challenge to be, I wanted my own “Monstro”.

Well the upper Severn is a big place and having to use public transport I had to be careful where I ended up, once getting off the train and getting a taxi to my chosen spot I had to make sure I could get back easily enough, with the help of Google earth I decided my chosen area would be about 7 miles above Shrewsbury, it was a day ticket stretch with reports of fish to 15lb plus having come out, and although it was near to a campsite it was just far enough out of town not to get hammered by the locals. In fact in 6 whole days I’ve only seen 1 other angler and he was after silver fish.

When I arrived for my 1st session which would last 3 days and 2 nights the river had 2-3ft of extra water on and to the eye that knows no better it looked perfect, unfortunately the little kid in me took over and I jumped into the 1st good looking peg. I pre-baited the swim and decided to walk the length of river while the swim settled, I should of done this in the first place, there was another 3 swims that stood out and actually looked better but id committed myself to a swim, I’d give it a go here then try 1 or 2 other swims tomorrow.

An hour later I made my 1st cast just off a tree which was at the end of the swim, I was fishing a 4oz open ended feeder with a 4ft hook link and double 10mm pellet, I also opted to fish a second rod with half a tin of meat on the inside line, for five hours I sat in the swim continually casting every 15-20minutes to keep the swim topped up but nothing was happening, not so much as a tap, doubts were creeping into my mind should I sit it out for the night and hope they come on after dark or should I move to one of the better looking swims. With my mind made up I hotfooted it to another swim, a nice big fallen tree in the water on the right, main flow going past the edge with a nice crease and a nice slack area, I gently bait droppered the area with 3 pints of hemp and some small pellets and left the swim to rest. With the flow being a lot slower in this swim I changed my hook link to 2ft, an hour later the sun was setting, the swim looked perfect, id baited right, my rigs were spot on and I was really confident. Both Rods were cast out one on the crease and the big meat rod on the inside line in the slack, I couldn’t fail I thought.pic 1
As the sun went down and darkness fell I was sat on my rods expecting the tip to fly round but nothing, not so much as a little tap on either rod, midnight came then 1am and still nothing and to top it off it had gone really cold and was thick in mist, I decided to bring the pellet rod in and changed it to a meat rig, I was getting tired now and didn’t want to keep up the continued casting it had been a long day with the travelling and I decided to have a doze in my chair, 2nd rod recast with meat, bait runners engaged, big coat threw over me, I was cold but happy, confident in the knowledge that any barbel can’t resist a nice piece of meat, the rods were right by me so should I get a take I’m on them instantly, the sound of the bait runner has always been enough for me, I’ve never been one for alarms.

I woke a couple of hours later, light was breaking through and it was still bloody misty every now and again it was billowing over the bank behind me, it was quite eerie I thought, and for some reason started to remember scenes from the film The Fog, come on Jez I thought don’t spook yourself out. I brought the rods in and checked the baits not so much as a nibble, I flicked them back out and decided to stay there until daylight, again nothing, it was now light so I decided to walk the length again, I found a new swim and decided on a different approach this time, I wondered if the big bed of bait I had put down had perhaps spooked the fish so with the water still very coloured I decided to switch methods to using 1 single big smelly bait, a couple of hours in a swim and then move on to the next. Well 6 pegs and 12 hours later I was ready for throwing the rods in, id had enough, tired exhausted and hungry oh and not to mention pissed wet threw from the knees down from having a walk in the morning dew, it was time for a bankside meal and a rest, pick a peg for the evening/night time and get some renewed enthusiasm.pic 2

New peg was found, belly filled, bit of a nap I was ready to go again, like the rest of the pegs I fished it was a typical looking barbel swim, it was a bit of a longer swim this one with 2 or 3 area’s I could fish I had the main flow which wasn’t too fast, a nice crease and a big over hanging bush plus some slack area to go at, confidence renewed I decided to put a nice bed of hemp down in the slack area, and fish over it with a couple of pellets and keep introducing the hemp with a small bait dropper, the second rod I decide to put in the main flow using meat and randomly cast around every 20 minutes to see if I could land on some fish, I was actually fishing upstream with a bow in the line when on my second cast I hooked into a fish, I’d like to say it was a typical spring back bite followed by a 3ft twitch but after 36+ hours of solid fishing I actually didn’t even see it as I was rooting in my bag for a snag, hearing the bait runner go off I wound down a and struck into the fish, not feeling much resistance I actually thought it was a small barbel until I started reeling in, once under the rod tip it went for every snag it could see and it put up a spirited fight but was well outmatched with 12lb line and 1.75lb test curve rod, a couple of minutes after hooking I was slipping the net under my first upper Severn fish, a chub but not any old chub a great big thing, not what I came for but very pleasing and it was certainly worth a weigh.Jerry Gleeson with a pb chub
Incredibly my 1st bite on the upper Severn resulted in a new pb chub of 5lb 7oz you certainly can’t complain about that, a quick trophy shot and I slipped her in the net for a rest before releasing.

With renewed excitement I cast some meat out into the main flow but alas I could find no more fish, as the light was beginning to fade I decided to concentrate my efforts on the baited area and fish the meat on the inside line, I worked at the swim all night but gave up exhausted about 3am when I simply fell asleep in my chair. I was awaken early in the morning by the bailiff shouting down to me, I had a good chat with him and a bit of a walk and he told me which were the better swims, why couldn’t he have turned up 2 days earlier?
I had a good luck at these 2 swims when he left and I must have walked past them half a dozen times they certainly didn’t look fishy and were nothing like your text book swims we read about.

I was now into my 3rd day without a barbel and although very pleased with my pb chub it wasn’t what I came for! I decided to have the last few hours in the swim the bailiff shown me and to be honest it was half-hearted the river had broken me I was totally soul destroyed, even though I knew it was time for home I had to try, alas nothing came along and I went home wondering if the bailiff was telling the truth. I vowed to return.

The next week I had promised myself a trip down to the Teme but I kept thinking about the upper Severn and the pegs the bailiff had pointed out, had I just fished in the wrong places the week before but then with good bait and consistent feeding you can draw barbel to you so I just didn’t know.
I’d managed to sweet talk the wife into taking me this time which is a very rare event, the car was loaded satnav programmed for the Teme when I had to nip back in the house for something, it was at this point I completely changed my mind, locked the front door and got back in the car and reprogrammed the satnav to the upper Severn that cost me a bollocking off the wife for messing about but my mind was made up, upper Severn it had to be.

On arrival I was pleased to see that no one was fishing but there were signs that people had been, I said goodbyes to the wife and proceeded to the peg pointed out by the bailiff, rods set up and sat comfortably in my swim I pondered my attack. A big bed of bait didn’t work previously and neither did big meat so I decided to use a straight running lead and slowly build the swim up using pva bags and little bits of loose feed, one good thing this week the river had dropped off 2-3ft and the banks were a lot dryer, I made my 1st cast slightly down stream but on the inside of the main flow and the second rod straight in front just off the main flow using an average size piece of meat.
I sat back and hoping it wouldn’t be a long wait till I got a bite I knocked the bait runners on just in case, it certainly wasn’t a swim I would pick for holding barbel not when you have the features the other swims had, this swim was quite boring in comparison.pic 4

The bait had not been in the water 20 minutes when the rod hooped over and the bait runner screamed off, excitement kicked in as I wound down and struck into the fish, now this fish was still motoring downstream and was still taking line off the spool, I am careful not to have the tension to tight in case they make that final lunge under your feet but this fish didn’t want to be stopped, I literally had to put my hand on the spool and really lean into the fish to turn it, it didn’t want to turn that’s for sure a couple of minutes later and after a few more spirited runs I was sliding the net under my 1st upper Severn barbel not the biggest barbel I’ve ever seen at about 5lb but certainly one of the best fights, I flicked off the bail arm and let the fish have a proper breather before I unhooked her then she was bag in the net for a proper rest before we had a picture, not a monstrous fish but my 1st from a new river so worthy of a quick snap for memories sake. After a good rest she then swam strongly away.Jerry Gleeson with the first barbel of his trip

Well the bailiff was right, I was excited at the prospect of what lay ahead, making my second cast I attached another pva bag full of freebies and flicked out some bigger pellets, I had the odd knock of the rod top but nothing positive but at least I knew there was fish in the swim, meanwhile the meat rod was staying perfectly still yet they weren’t to far apart just over a rod length at most.
With just a few knocks to show from my second cast I decided to re-bait and put in again, this time the bait wasn’t in the water 5 minutes and the rod tip was over and the bait runner whizzing away, this one felt like a nice lump and again went downstream like a train, they certainly were powerful fish these barbel that inhabited the upper reaches, this one didn’t want to come in, when I got it under my feet it charged off like a rocket, when I finally slipped the net underneath it, it wasn’t quite as big as I thought but still worthy of a weigh to gauge the size of the residents, I estimated just over 8lb and she came in at 7lb 14oz they were definitely getting bigger.Jerry Gleeson with a bigger barbel
After such a spirited fight and it running wild through the swim I decided to bait dropper a bit of hemp in, in the hope of keeping some fish in the swim or at worst attracting them back in.
A few more casts and the swim remained quiet with neither rod moving, I kept working away at the swim slowly building it up but there was nothing, it was now getting on for 8pm and with nothing happening for a couple of hours I contemplated changing swims but then decided to stick it out in this peg, I decided to have a change of tactic and switch from a straight lead and pva to a closed feeder with the holes elongated and a 4ft hook link,, 1st cast and I was into another fish, another good fish the fought well above its weight this one about 6lb.

With nothing happening again for a couple of hours I decided to mix up some Sonu-baits ground bait I had and run loads of hemp and small pellets through it, I then balled in about 12 tennis size balls of ground bait in directly in front of me, I was hoping to draw the barbel up in front of me rather than keep hooking them down the back of the swim, this proved fatal for the night and for love nor money could I get another bite, my monster had eluded me for another night.

After having a hearty breakfast on the bankside I decided I would rest my swim for the day and go off and try another swim, I tried swims id not tried previously, tried ones id blanked in but I couldn’t locate any fish they just seem to vanish.
Come 6 o’clock my stomach needed feeding so I wandered back up to the swim id made by base and got stuck into some new potatoes, vegetables and meatballs ( I perhaps should have used these for bait but they didn’t taste to bad). Anyway after not having a bite since at least 10 o’clock the previous evening I was beginning to feel a bit beaten again, I couldn’t work out where the fish had gone and I was back to being completely bite less again.the " almost" Double figure barbel!
With the success I had in the swim the previous evening I decided to go at it with the same feeder approach down to the right and an average size piece of meat in front of me where it had been the night before and where I had put all the ground bait, 3hrs later its getting dark and nothing not so much as a wobble on any of the tips when without warning the meat rod shot off, it took me a while to get the upper hand, this one was plodding around on the bottom and using the flow to its advantage, I wondered if this was my monster, when I slipped the net under her I thought I’d done the double at least but she only went 9lb 15oz she just wouldn’t go that extra ounce, still it was a good fish and I was very pleased.
I re-baited the meat rod and in it went, less than 20 minutes later another bite and another fish on the bank, I couldn’t work it out, the fish were feeding exactly where I had thrown the ground bait the night before, yet I failed to have a bite there all night and most of the morning yet now the fish had moved over the area and were taking average size pieces of meat with no other loose feed going in, the right hand rod with the feeder was remaining motionless at the back of the swim.

During the night I came to have another 4 fish including another 9lber all on the meat rod, I half gave up about 2.30 or at least my body did and I fell asleep, I was rudely awaken just before 1st light by my bait runner screaming off but after hooking into the fish I bumped it straight away, I decided not to recast and bought my other rod in, another hours sleep was in order so I was ready for my final day.
After breakfast I contemplated the day ahead, I decided to have an hour exploring another peg or at least the other pegs the bailiff had pointed out and spent a bit of time watching the flow and studying the movement of the water, after doing a bit of leading about and poking about the bankside I decided to leave this this swim till next time, although it was as boring looking as my swim it had potential, there was one or 2 features this swim had that mine didn’t, undercut banks and a sunken tree for starters and I could draw the fish up and over the river.

The day was getting on and with a long journey home I decided to spend what was left of the day in my base swim, unfortunately no other fish came my way but I can’t complain, from a stretch of river I know nothing about I’ve done a pb chub and 8 barbel which include a brace of 9lbers and I had a new peg to dream about, with new idea’s learned it won’t be long before I am back that’s for sure, I will have my own ‘MONSTRO’(eventually)

4 Responses to “Guest article…In search of an Upper Severn Monster Barbel – by Jerry Gleeson”

  1. Great read Jerry…

    Definitely something in fishing a new venue, getting the fish an added bonus.

    Effort rewarded, good stuff mate :-)

  2. Enjoyed the read went out yesterday on seven above Montford bridge .river a bit. Low caught two half pound Chubb will try meat next time

  3. Inspiration .hope Thanks


Leave a Reply