Saturday 2 July 2011

First foray for a while

Wed evening, straight after work saw me heading down three motorways to a medium sized midlands river that holds lots of barbel and is situated in the Worcester region.  I haven't been back down here since the floods of 2007, so it was nice to be back on its steep and precarious banks once again.

I decided to start in a known fish holding area near to some fast flowing water. Using just the one rod today I cast in with a bunch of mini pellets glued to hair and waited for the tip to pull round. Not long after I saw a movement in the fast water flowing along the far bank of the pool I was fishing. I soon realised that it was a huge dog otter that did a sort of butterfly swim upstream through the fast broken water, It was the first one I've seen clearly in broad daylight and was quite and awesome beast.   I always have mixed feelings seeing them and it does worry me about the sustainability of our fish stocks, but its also a privilege to witness one of these animals naturally in the wild doing what it should be doing.

I had a few short taps on the tip so wasn't too concerned that the fish were spooked, well at least the chub were feeding it seemed. I did an air strike to one of these stronger taps so pulled in to re bait. As I was attaching the next made up hook length, I heard a squeak and looked up to see another otter no more than a rods length away, a female this time, we looked at each other eye to eye for a second or two then she casually rolled and dived back under, emerging a safer distance away upstream towards the head of the pool.  She swam on her back studying me with some amused contemplation, I squeaked at her by sucking through my pursed lips which made her ears prick up and her eyes lighten.  Then as suddenly as she appeared she seemed to snap to remembering her instincts, then rolled over and back under the surface disappearing again.  I quickly pulled out the camera phone to film but by now she had decided I'd been more than privileged by her presence and so my encounter was over.

I decided it wasn't a brilliant area to be fishing here, if there were at least two adult otters fishing the same pool, so I moved down stream to another spot.   Here, I was just checking the scene to make sure I was happy to cast in when a barbel of about 8lb leapt clear of the water three times, in what I can only guess was some kind of spawning ritual or even evading action from some unseen subsurface predator.   I didn't see any giveaway otter diving bubbles so I'm not sure really why it was leaping out like that, but barbel are prone to odd behavior aren't they?

The swim was snag city both to  left and right but I knew if I could at least keep them away from the snags and out in the middle or far bank it would be fine. At least I knew there were fish here so I cast in a soft oily pellet and waited.   It wasn't long before the tip pulled down and my strike was met with a fish pulling back on the end.   It was not the usual powerful steam train run and screaming clutch that I was expecting however, more like a bang then a quick fizzle and so when a spirited 2lb chub was netted it was no surprise.

                     Snags to the left !                                      Snags to the right !

about 2lb of chub

That was the only fish of the evening and by darkness I had moved again to try the last swim of the evening.  I clambered down the bank and stood studying the water deciding on where my cast should go and then spooked yet another Otter !

This one dived and swam away across the river, I thought I might be waisting my time again and as I couldn't see where the snags were in the now pitch darkness, I decided to call it quits and come back on another day when I would have more time to bait the swims in daylight  before fishing them in rotation.  Hopefully the otters will have spread thenselves out a bit more too !


  1. Lee, it's a lovely river isn't it? Fancy having more of an "Otter Day" than a fishing one. We should definately make a date to meet up there.

  2. Catching a barbel would have definitely topped it off, but it was still nice to be reacquainted with the river.

    I've never seen any otters there before in over 10 years of visits to its banks, so it was a bit of a surprise to see three in two hours of fishing. I'll let you know when I'm heading down there again David.

  3. It's always a bummer when another couple of anglers are in your favoured peg on arrival at the river, ain't it?