Fishing the Middle Severn around Shrewsbury – Some tips for new members

Here is another of Steve Beech’s reports on our Coarse Fishing. This time Steve focuses on Barble fishing the Middle Severn in the Shrewsbury area. Members can find other reports from Steve on our Forum.


There is often some debate regarding the upper, middle and lower sections of the river Severn so to keep it simple I’m covering the areas around Shrewsbury to begin with. This is quite probably the sections that members will visit initially and potential new members should start. It was where my river Severn adventures began almost thirty years ago!

It’s probably best to start by telling you a little about my beginnings on the river, my failures, frustrations and eventual success. I used to arrive very early on summer mornings and fish until hunger or teatime arrived. I used maggots and float tackle better equipped for my local canals and still waters and never caught anything bigger than a minnow. Eventually I asked another angler how he fished the river and his advice was to arrive late afternoon, put in groundbait, hemp corn and meat and start fishing with corn or meat just as the sun began to fade. This is exactly what I did on my next trip and landed two 5lb chub. The occasional small barbel followed and so my journey into success began.

Luncheon meat worked well, as did corn but it was the availability of high protein pellets and boilies that was to really improve catch rates of barbel in particular and not just on this river but up and down the country on many other rivers.

PAAS control mile upon mile of the river around Shrewsbury and as you visit different sections it’s inevitable that some sections will suit you better than others. As on the Wye report, I recommend a fold up spade, a dog spike and rope and strong gloves to either safely access swims, land and return fish and above all think about your own safety. There’s nothing worse than starting a fishing session with all the excitement that this often brings only to sit there with hands and arms full of nettle stings.

I’m not going to advise swims or specific sections but am going to advise on everything else that will help. As I can only know myself how far I am prepared to walk, how much tackle I will carry and how much work I’m prepared to do, then I think this makes sense. For my recent trip I chose a section where night fishing is allowed and where I can take a stove and the walk was reasonable, always check your permit for the rules governing each water as they do vary!

Arriving mid afternoon I had a walk looking for a suitable swim. I quickly found an area where I could put up my storm brolly and where only a few steps needed digging into the bank. I could also net and safely return fish without any risk of slipping in, particularly important if it begins to rain. There was a nice crease mid river and a deeper, shaded area near bank. My tactics would be to use two rods fished into the crease and to bait up the inside line to fish into much later.

Two 2lb test curve barbel rods, 10lb line with 10lb braid hooklengths along with 3oz open ended feeders would be cast every twenty minutes into the crease. One would be brought in later and used on the inside line. The plan was to build up feed in the crease, mid river with the rods casting about twenty yards apart. When using the one rod later I would cast to the upper feed line. This would give me time and space to land fish well away from the inside line and avoid tangles. I don’t see the point in having two baits and tackle too close as tangles are inevitable. My baits were squid and ambush pellets, and squid boilies used as doubles or combinations of the baits. The inside line was bait dropped with chopped meat and garlic hemp, but this wouldn’t be done until 6pm.

After an hour or so and as I was enjoying a cup of tea, one of the rods rattled. This was most definitely a fish and much earlier than I’d expected. At just after 4pm the baitrunner screemed and I was connected to my first river Severn barbel of the season. They all fight and this was no exception but it was soon netted and rested before being lifted for unhooking and weighing. At 5lb 4oz it was a typical shoal barbel and in excellent condition. Caught on a combination of hair rigged pellet and boilie I began to believe that I was going to do well. Another two, of similar size followed, all caught on the combi rig before it was time for the inside line to be bait dropped.

I put ten droppers in, then left the inside line until around 10pm having brought in one of crease rods and replacing the combi rig for a large piece of meat which I’d sprayed the day before with garlic. Attaching on the hair and holding in place with a meat screw this was then cast into the baited inside line.

The middle line died for an hour or so until 11pm when another shoal barbel came to my net. The inside line with the meat produced a 7lb 2oz followed by a 7lb 12oz which turned out to be my best fish. In total nine barbel, a small chub and a bream was a good result. The river used to produce large numbers of barbel and from my records I had  some exceptional numbers of barbel including 17,24 and 36 all under 9lb but double figures in numbers were regular. The river appeared to go off for a time, either anglers weren’t visiting or were put off by the walk or whatever. Although I fish different rivers now, I can honestly say that my latest visit was a success and I will visit again soon. Very pleasing to know that the meat still catches too and on the inside line which was just an easy pendulum cast from my chair. Modern baits are very good but try and vary as much as possible and the rewards will come your way. The river Severn is still an excellent river and full of fish and I was pleased to see the different year classes of barbel from 3lbs up to just below 8lbs. This is good for the future of the river, so give it a visit soon. The photos should explain some of the theory and actual events of tactics used during my recent visit. Combinations will always give you an edge so give them a try.

Good luck.

Steve Beech