Walker called barbel "a kind of fast-water carp", and so even the most avid carp fanatic has an excuse, perhaps, when fishing for "old whiskers".
It's a joke among my family that we settle on the worst weather possible for our angling get-togethers, and last Saturday was no exception.
I fished with brother Dave, nephew Steve and Steve's brother in law, Mitchell, who is still smiling after landing a PB mirror of 27lbs, after a run of 18 blanks. There's youthful dedication!
But barbel were the target - and would they oblige? Well, not really. Dave had the only success of the day - a fish of 4.5lbs or so, and he lost another when a barbless pulled. He deserved his fish, because
the banks were like quick-silver due to the uncanny deluge. He fell in at one point and broke his favourite barbel rod in the process. It could have been very nasty, given the conditions, and we both decided to move up-stream, to slightly less risky spots.
Steven fished wisely over a shallowish gravel run, -hooked and lost a decent barbel, when the 10lb line parted. Was this, I wonder down to sharp gravel?
Mitchell had a chub of about 1lb and I - well I fished like a twonk and blanked! I should have used a swimfeeder, mashed bread and micro-pellets like my brother; but I stuck it out with plain meat, and paid
the price. The Severn has moved on as a challenge from the last time I fished it, back in 1997. Although Dave used meat on the hook, or on the hair, the feed was all important, and it had to be tight feeding, I think. I was just loose-feeding mainly,
Steven and I ended up counting the intervals between the lightning flashes and the thunder, and the storm got as close as six miles which, given our carbon rods,
started to get a little un-nerving.
It was a lovely day, however. Fishing isn't just about catching, and I had a very scenic peg for most of the day. Across the river
was a clay cliff, topped by a majestic oak, - and comically bleating sheep went back and forth all afternoon, above the sheer drop into swathes of Himalayan balsam.
And I musn't forget the steam trains of the Severn Valley Railway - hearing them and seeing them at intervals was like fishing back in time, - perhaps 70 years ago, or more.
I had a take at "last knockings" - I struck, and I struck into the rim of my umbrella. I don't use a brolly so often, so that's my excuse!
say no more...