The middle Severn was to be our destination and with the two stretches being roughly twelve miles apart, a bed and breakfast was booked for the night in between.
The drive to Kidderminster seemed to fly by and the journey was completed in an hour and forty minutes ( I wasn't speeding gov, honest!!) So 85 miles later I was parked up outside Mal Storey's tackle shop awaiting the arrival of Alan and Spike (Graham).
After getting the appropriate day tickets we then set off to find a good old greasy spoon for a bacon sarnie and a mug of coffee just to get us going of course! By 8am I was following in pursuit of a silver van that was high tailing it down a single track lane with a little bald fella in the driving seat swiping the tree branches as he went with his wing mirrors, a mile or so later we were parked up at the end of the lane surrounded by high trees and a bridge, Severn valley railway was directly behind us giving out its whistle and puffing smoke as she rattled through.
The two lads that I had tagged along with were a little more match orientated than my good self so it would be interesting to see their ways and maybe learn a different angle to snare a barbel or two.
After unloading the gear a short walk was made to a steep declined and nettle high path that lead down to the waters edge. As we descended what seemed more suited to mountain goats than humans, Spike muttered " take it easy, it's slippy as arseholes" well with those famous last words all that could be seen was poor old Spike laying on the floor impersonating only what could be described as a dead fly, myself and Alan rolled about laughing and giggling like school boys and of course offered our sympathy only to be told in a roundabout way to " piss off". Still chuckling we made our way along the path that followed the rivers edge with the two lads both advising me that peg10 was well worth a go.
The swim looked quite tasty, in fact it seemed to have a feature for every occasion, with a slack margin leading into quite pacey and bubbly water from ten yards out to right across to the other side to where two big trees where leaning over giving shade and cover.
I had made my mind up in the days leading up to the the trip that I wouldn't be taking a mass array of baits but instead stick to my guns by just using a meaty/chilli based groundbait to which I had added some small pellets and a tin of hemp,this was to be used for plugging the feeder. Rig wise it was just a case of a simple free running swivel clip with a blackcap feeder with the bottom cut off, stopped by a buffer bead and swivel while 3ft of 8lb maxima and a size14 hook finished the set up. Single or double 8mm pellets were my chosen hookbaits and depending on how the fish were reacting on the day it would be one or the other?
To begin with my first couple of casts flew right across the river to where the two trees had tempted me but this turned out to be a mistake as after about an hour or so with only one small chubby type tap it soon become apparent that I had been suckered in by the trees and maybe I should be fishing the bubbly,faster water fifteen yards or so out?
As a pinch of pellet was added to the feeder before being plugged with my chilli concoction a kingfisher flew by with the usual hurried look about him. With the single 8mm bait now sat only a short flick out on to the bubbly crease I felt happy,content and confident as it landed with donk on the riverbed.
Five minutes or so had passed by and just as I had started to pour some tea from my flask(why does this happen) the rod tip just buckled over and tried to keep going, I kept as calm as I could, placed the cup on the ground and swept the rod air bound with a good 'whack'!!
Just as the fish tried to make headway downstream I stepped left by a foot only to kick my brew straight over but luckily the cup stayed on the bank and not in the drink. A couple of minutes later after a spirited fight, there laying in the folds of my net was a pristine, typical sized Severn barbel of about 7lb or so.
There always seems to be a little bit of added pressure when visiting a new stretch for the first time, especially with new angling friends so getting that first pull relaxed me nicely. A quick photo was taken on the mat before placing the fish back in the margin to rest up for as long as it needed. It had fought hard the weather was hot and these fish really DO need as much recovery time as possible plus an extra five minutes.
I lassoed another pellet on after checking the hook and link and all was fine, the temptation was there to remove the hooklink and load the spot with a few feeder fulls of goodies but I resisted and thought I'd just wait and see what happened in the next half hour or so? As I sat there chilling and taken in the surroundings Alan appeared to reveal that Spike had caught two and he had caught one but was on his way back to the van for a change of clothes after having fell off of the log that he was fishing from and knocking his maggots,castors and a bait box full of feeders straight in to the wet stuff!
After taking the piss a little and calling him a 'cock' he bode me farewell and went on his way to drier climates but he was happy that I had managed to bag one.
Life settled down again and over the next few hours I managed to hook and land another couple of fish with the biggest going just under the eight pound mark which both fell to a pair of 8mm glued elipse pellets.
As the afternoon wore on I decided to take a stroll down the section to see the calamity's and also the rest of the stretch. Spike revealed that he had caught five, two on castor and three on pellet while Alan was still on one and having a mare due to losing feeders every other cast on rocks and snags.
I let the two lads know that my intentions were to fish till 4pm and then I was going to head to the B+B for a freshen up, a pint and a bit of tucker so this I did and they followed not long after but first they had to stop off at the tackle shop so Alan could replenish his feeder stock!
As I pulled into the car park of my digs for the night it soon became obvious that the area was quite busy, not all were anglers but most were. Couples on breaks,walkers and also the odd local made up the rest of the traffic. I decided to book in, order a pint before going back outside and claiming a table to sit and chill out for a while and overlook the river. It was now late afternoon and from my view point on the decking it was plain to see that nearly all the swims were in use and feeders could be seen sploshing at least every couple of minutes or so from one swim to another!
My intention was to sort the tackle in the back of the truck so it was ready to just grab, before going up to my room and taking a much needed and refreshing shower and then ordering some food from the 'early bird menu' it's cheap at half the price. Ham,egg and chips was the order of the day washed down with another pint. Alan and Spike had now also pulled up and joined me with a pint and we sat there and chatted about the days events and what our intentions were for the rest of the stay.
The two lads were not going to fish the evening but instead choosing to freshen up, have some grub and then have a few pints. I on the other hand decided to hit the river when most of the other anglers had chose to pack it in for the day and retreat also to the pub for their dinners/pints and leaving the river in a semi peaceful state once again.
I made a short walk from the car park and descended the bank in to a cosy little swim which also included a staging to fish from (I'm not a fan of pallets if I'm honest) and high Himalayan balsam which cocooned me and offered a little cover. Faster water was just an under arm's chuck out so after gluing three 8mm pellets to the hair I was soon angling once again. Fifteen minutes or so had past and a hesitant,sharp jaggy bite had me swiftly striking but from the off I knew this was going to be a chub and my instincts were proven right as I slipped the net under a long and very lean fish of about 3lb ish. Soon it became dark and I had just looked at my watch which read 9.05,on looking back at my rod there was a slight movement and then it just buckled over 'thats a proper bite' I remember muttering to myself and soon enough I had it wallowing under the rod top, just as I was about to net it Alan appeared from behind with a delivery for me "a pint of the wet stuff for ya fella" "ah good ol boy" I replied " I'll just get this baby in the net and I'll be with you".
"How on earth can you see what your doing in this light" he said "carrots" was the only answer I could come up with which lead him in to calling me a "tosser" I laughed and scooped the barbel up at the same time "that ain't a bad un" I said as I readied myself and sipped my pint. The scales revealed a weight of 8lb 15oz and rounded off the day nicely. I could of had another cast but instead chose to be sociable and go and join the other two for a glass of red before retreating to my room,calling the Mrs and getting my head down.
Day two turned out to be a totally different day. We had planned to all meet for breakfast at 7.30 as Allan insisted that he was always awake by 6.30 "yeah right"!!
On getting up at just gone 6.30 I soon had the kettle boiling away and made myself a brew and also rolled a smoke before heading outside to get some fresh air and to see who was about? Spike was out by the van but Alan was nowhere to be seen? " where is he then"? I asked, "snoring like a pig" was his reply. He'd stayed downstairs and had a couple of late ones, this only added to our amusement and gave us some more ammunition to throw at him, and that we did.
After throwing a good old fashioned English fry up and a cup of coffee down our necks we were soon back outside and loading our backs with tackle by 8am. There was already the odd angler perched on platforms right outside the pub so we decided to head up into the next field and on being the first up there we had the pick of the swims. We all spread out to give each other plenty of room but this turned out to be a big mistake as angler after angler dropped in between until more or less every peg was taken from elbow to elbow right through the stretch!! Spike managed a fish not long after settling and before the crowds started to arrive but by midday I had had enough of the mayhem. Why people drop in so close really does baffle me and then when you speak to them all they do is moan that they have had bugger all, I Wonder why??
I made decision to call it a day by lunchtime and go walk a stretch just down river that I am quite familiar with due to family breaks as I am back there in three weeks time. Alan and Spike headed back to Bewdley for the remaining hours and managed a few fish between them and I headed back to Bedfordshire.
Cheers for the company lads it was a pleasure.