There’s no such thing as a free lunch, I’m told (unless you visit your granny) and it seems to me that the same can be said for free fishing. What you don’t pay for in ‘bank charges’, you pay for in other things such as lack of facilities, unkempt and inaccessible pegs, presence of teenagers larking about in the shallows . . . and no fish!
My short sojourn with comrade Jocky to Ludlow and the free fishing stretch of the river in the town contained elements of all of the above, particularly the lack of fish being caught. Actually, I am being rather unfair here because although neither of us caught anything, we certainly saw plenty.
After wandering along the bank for ten minutes negotiating vicious brambles and a narrow concrete precipice that purported that be a fishing spot, we emerged from the undergrowth on to a small rocky outcrop about ten metres upstream of a tiny weir. The river here is quite pretty in places, if not wild, but it wasn’t the stimulating scenery that attracted our attention, it was the half-dozen or so dark torpedo shaped silhouettes that were scudding gently up and down in the shallow, slightly perturbed water above the weir and over towards the opposite, even more accessible bank of the river.
|Riviera Kid cuts a fine figure on the bank |
. . . and fish jump out on the other side!
Barbel. Big juicy unsuspecting barbel just waiting for a couple of likely hunter-gatherers to come traipsing along. Now, I haven’t fished for barbel since I was about fourteen and I remember having quite a productive stint at the free fishing section of the Severn at Ironbridge using big leads and luncheon meat. So, not wanting to change a successful method, we wacked out a couple of cannonballs armed with spam right into the swim.
The fish didn’t seem bothered by the splash of the cast and carried on with their sunbathing. Unfortunately, they also didn’t seem that bothered about the bait and took to gliding past and pointing out the large cubes of processed meat to their mates with a wink and a slight snigger. Not disheartened, we varied the bait menu and laid on a starter of halibut pellets, followed by a main course of strawberry and shrimp boilies, all washed down with feeder pellets and hemp. And guess what. Yes, no fish.
As always, I enjoyed the company and the experience, and I did resist the temptation to walk down to an area just below the weir and give a thick ear to a group of teenagers who decided to strip down to their shorts and splash around with a small inflatable. Instead I just gave them Paddington hard stares and tried a few ancient Jedi mind tricks, which must have worked because after about an hour they scuttled back into the bushes shivering (with fear, no doubt!)
If anyone out their would like to offer up a few tips on catching barbel on the Teme, then I'm all thick ears.
On the other hand, they might have been chub!