Bloor's Barbel Bulletin - December 2001
Tales From The Teme
The month of December was quiet as far as my barbel fishing was concerned. Well, to tell you the truth, it was non-existent. The persistent cold weather meant that even chub fishing was difficult, and that's making a statement. Therefore I want to dedicate this month's article to the River Teme, which I'm sure will be of interest to all barbel anglers.
The River Teme. Just a couple of words that in themselves don't mean a lot but when twinned, boy oh boy, do my piscatorial juices start to run or what...I guess we all have our 'first love' as far as fishing is concerned, without a doubt mine is the River Teme.
Rising in Wales, the Teme winds its way through a number of Worcestershire market towns and villages before finally reaching its conclusion near Worcester. A beautiful, natural river, the absence of industry along its banks has ensured a pure and clean waterway. It really is an all-round river and has something to offer every type of angler.
In fact, an examination of my own angling records indicate that over the last six years I have caught eleven species of fish from the river. They are barbel, bleak, brown trout, chub, dace, eel, grayling, gudgeon, minnow, perch and salmon. Certainly an assortment of species indicating that my favourite river has something to offer everyone.
The salmon was caught on December 23 1996. Yes, while you were all out doing your Christmas shopping with the wife, I was there on the banks of the Teme, squeezing in my last trip before the festivities began. Either my wife was glad to get rid of me for the day, or she's just a brilliant spouse who loves to see me enjoy myself angling. Who knows!
My records from that trip indicate that I was the only one out that day, surprise, surprise. The temperature I recorded also indicates zero, and that I had trouble getting the bankstick into the frozen earth. Those who know me well, will testify to my fanatical, obsessive love for angling. The reputation is well deserved, if I say so myself. Come frost or high water, I'll be there.
The salmon itself was exactly 2 lb and spewed up a mouthful of maggots upon being landed. It was taken while float fishing and I also caught a couple of grayling that day. That's one of the good things about the Teme, the presence of the Lady of the Stream means that, even on the coldest of winter days, there is always the chance of a fish. The grayling I've had from the river have all been caught between November and February.
On one occasion not only was the Teme a big player in my life, it nearly played the leading role in my death. The banks were very muddy and in I went! As the river was in flood, it began to sweep me away. I managed to grab an overhanging bush and pull myself out of the cold water. Although I laugh about it now, it was not comical at the time. The phrase 'your life flashes before you' became a reality at the moment my body left the security of terra firma and was at the mercy of the raging torrent.
In fact the episode prompted my wife to question whether I should buy a flotation suit! So don't worry, if ever you're out on the river and you see a guy floating downstream, it's just me! The dunking took place on February 13, a day before Valentine's Day, nearly making my wife a fishing widow in the literal sense of the phrase.
Actually, the incident of the dip into the Teme is not isolated as far as my fishing is concerned. When I choose a swim, often it's in the literal sense of the word. On another occasion I had caught a 7 lb-plus barbel and had made my way up the steep bank to set the self-timer on the camera, when I noticed a dog walker coming along the bank. He agreed to take the photograph for me. He was really impressed with the fish, had never seen anything like it before in his life, he said. I could tell by the way he spoke, in his book I was an expert angler, someone to look up to.
Unfortunately, what happened next destroyed any credibility I may have had in his eyes. After returning the fish safely to the water, still being watched by this man, I slipped as I returned to the top of the bank to get the landing net. Just like the helter-skelter, once on you can't get off till you reach the bottom, in this case, the river.
Down I slide on my backside, catching my fishing tray on the way which contained my mobile phone. The phone then promptly flips in the air, somersaults a number of times before landing in the net I had in the water! Was I embarrassed! I looked around, hoping to divert my squirm by announcing 'And now for my next trick', but the man had gone.
I had gone from being a god to a complete idiot in his estimation in one foul swoop. Or is that one foul slip?
As already mentioned, although the Teme contains a varied head of fish, I guess for most anglers, the Teme means one thing - barbel. Once away from the shallow upper stretches of the river, as it starts to widen and deepen, it is the barbel that begins to dominate the thoughts of most. The Teme is a prolific barbel river and is said to be the most densely populated waterway for that species in the country.
Certainly the river has so much to offer the barbel angler, whether the novice who is still trying to catch his first or the specimen hunter after a monster. Whether its quality or quantity, the Teme's the river to produce the goods. The first barbel I caught from the river was a shade over 8 lb. Since then I've landed a load of nice fish, with the biggest currently peaking at just under 9lb.
I do feel privileged to live fairly close to the River Teme, between twenty and thirty miles depending on which stretch is fished. It is a river that attracts barbel anglers from all over the country. It's not unusual to hear a patchwork of accents as you walk along the river or chat to other anglers in the car park.
The great thing about the river is that for the cost of a really cheap club card there is some excellent fishing available. At £24 per year the BAA* card has to be the best value of any club in the whole country. Not just the Teme but over two hundred miles of water. Even if it was just for the Teme itself, it would be incredible value.There are prime stretches at Eastham, Lindridge, Eardiston, Stanford Bridge, Broadwas, Cotheridge, Leigh and Brockamin. Day tickets (Mon - Fri) are £3.
For anyone that fishes the Teme or intends to sample its wares, an invaluable asset has to be the audio tape that Des Taylor and Lawrence Breakspear made**. Based on the BAA waters, they take the listener along the river bank and point out key swims along the way. As someone who fishes the Teme regularly, I know the swims they talk about. They also talk tactics as they make their way along the river. Anyone serious about fishing the River Teme for barbel needs to get hold of this tape. And no, I'm not on commission from either BAA or Des Taylor !!!
*BAA have a web site. The address is www.baa.uk.com. The telephone number is 0121-454-9111. Membership is open and there are no waiting lists. Cards can either be bought from the HQ or from most tackle shops in the West Midlands area.
** River Teme Barbel can be ordered from Des Taylor Agencies at Po Box 191, Bewdley. DY12 1YP. The tape costs just £4.99 inc. p&p. Cheques or Postal orders to 'Des Taylor Agencies'. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org