Barbel fishing on the River Severn is better than it’s ever been.
That’s the verdict being delivered by anglers and tackle shop owners alike, who have witnessed huge catches of the species in the past two weeks.
Stan Lewis, owner of the tackle shop at Bewdley on the middle reaches of the river, has witnessed the highs and lows of the venue’s fortunes at close quarters over the past 40 years and is firmly of the belief that there’s never been a better time for anglers to fill their boots with hard-fighting barbel.
“I’ve been at Bewdley since the 1960s and in all that time I’ve never known catches like it. Just last week there was a guy called Steve Farrow who had 108 barbel in just two days fishing the stretch in Bewdley, all taken on maggots. Two days later the river rose by about 3ft and three other visiting anglers used meat and worms to take 40 barbel in a day, including several over 12lb. The river is on fire ¬ there’s more barbel being caught this year than at any time I can remember.”
Another angler who has been capitalising on the Severn’s rich vein of form is Angling Times reader Colin Bridger, from Selsey in West Sussex, who contacted the paper to tell us of a bumper session he experienced on the West Midlands river at Arley last week.
After beginning their session using pellets with limited success, Colin and a fishing friend of his switched to a maggot attack halfway through their week-long annual holiday and didn’t look back.
He said: “Three years ago we were catching well on 22mm ‘donkey choker’ pellets, while last year we were forced to drop down to 6mm pellets to get a bite. This year my mate and I had two barbel in the first three days using pellet and boilie. On day four we took a trip in to Bewdley and bought a gallon of maggots each from Stan Lewis, and over the last three days of our holiday we had 33 barbel up to a top weight of 11lb 4oz using maggots and hemp through the feeder. The transformation was incredible. The fish are still there because we were fishing the same swims that we fished with pellets, so I’m minded to agree with Des Taylor when he says that pellets may have ‘blown’ on the Severn.”
According to venue expert, Kinver Freeliners AC secretary Steve Williams the average size of the barbel on the middle Severn is definitely going up.
“The Middle could be set for five or six years of bumper big barbel sport, together with superb all-round specimen fishing,” said Steve.
“Fishing with out-sized baits, especially huge pieces of meat, is a good way to get through to the biggest fish. However, the roach, pike and zander fishing looks set to be most productive over the coming weeks as the river drops after the current freezing cold floods,” he added.