The last time I went to Wales (chub article)

The last time I went to Wales was in May 2003 – the 26th to be precise! And what a day that was; it was a wonderful feeling to see Wolves play – and beat – Sheffield United in the Division One play-off final at The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. There are certain events in our lives that etch themselves in our memories, and Wolves’ return to the top flight after nineteen years of exile is one of them.

On that occasion, my ten-year-old daughter Miriam accompanied me. We are both season ticket holders at Molineux and our shared passion for the Wolves separates us from my wife Debby and older daughter Rebekah. Although they both consider themselves Wolves fans, they don’t take it as seriously as Miriam and I do. In fact they would sooner go shopping than watch the Wolves!

However, although Miriam shares my love of all things old gold and black, she doesn’t quite have the same passion for staying out in all types of weather at the side of a river bank! Therefore, as I returned to Wales for the first time since May – to go fishing on the upper Severn – it was alone that I made the journey.

In recent years Wales have gone back to using the traditional age-old county names, instead of the modern, post-1974 counties that were imposed on us – supposedly for administration purposes, but which have gradually replaced the shires in many areas of the nation. Hence as I crossed the border between our nations, I just had to stop and take a photograph of the sign that proudly declared ‘Montgomeryshire’.

Likewise, although I live technically in the county of West Midlands as far as administration is concerned, I still prefer to use Staffordshire, which after all is where Sedgley had been for centuries prior to government interference. I think the bitterest pill to swallow though, regarding the 1974 changes, were those poor folk who having been born and brought up in Yorkshire suddenly found themselves living in Lancashire!

As I made my way to the Severn, the sun was out and apart from a breeze that was quite nippy, it was a reasonable day. However, rain was forecast for later, and on this occasion the men at the Met were spot-on in their prediction. I have been fishing for a long time with an umbrella that has seen its better days, and so on the morning of the session I visited my local tackle shop – Gwen’s tackle and bait – and invested in a new brolly.

Gwen Cook (yes, my local tackle shop is run by a lady – and one who knows her stuff at that!) knows I’m out in all weather for prolonged periods of time. So when I asked her if she had any umbrellas in stock, she by-passed the shower-proof ones and took me to the heavy duty one that was sitting there in the tub just waiting for me to buy it!

And I’m glad I did, because the saying (although used in a different context) ‘it never rains, but it pours’ was surely written for that day! It absolutely tipped it down with rain. As far as the fishing was concerned, I didn’t have anything at all. I did have a few taps from smaller fish, but my target species of chub failed to show up.

Driving back home, with the heater on full, and the windshield wipers working overtime to keep up with the rain that incessantly pounded away, I could fully understand why people think I’m mad to go fishing in the type of conditions that I do. Still, I rest safe in the knowledge that at least my fellow anglers are on my side and can vouch for my sanity!

So perhaps my memories of this trip to Wales won’t live with me for years to come, as the previous one will; but one thing’s for sure – you never catch fish sitting at home by the warm fire watching TV!

For my next chub session I decided to fish closer to home, and so it was to the English Staffordshire Sow that I headed for an evening session. I’ve been fishing a number of stretches on the river over the last couple of seasons, and on this trip I was not too far from the country lane where I had parked my car on the verge at the side of the road.

As it got dark, suddenly the peaceful night air was shattered by the sound of an oncoming boy-racer. As the car approached it made me think I’d sooner live on the flightpath of Heathrow than have to put up with that every night! Once in the immediate area, the noise was deafening.

As the trees in the hedgerows are now pretty transparent due to the loss of leaves, I was able to view the car as it raced – against itself I must add – along the lane. Taking a sharp corner right where my car was parked, I heard an almighty crash. Reeling in quickly, I made my way across the meadow to see what had happened.

Well thankfully, my own car was safe – the boy racer had smashed into a crash barrier. Forgive me if I sound unconcerned about the mangled front of his vehicle, but I have no sympathy with these people whatsoever. Anyway, he inspected his car, got back in and zoomed off again. Some people will never learn, will they?

After the excitement of the Jensen Button wannabe (whose stereo cost more than the car by the way!) had worn off, with the ‘boom, boom, boom’ of his music slowly fading in the distance, it was back to the fishing. I had caught a little perch as darkness had started to set in, but my target species of chub had so far eluded capture.

Surely I would catch at least one fish though? After all, my diary entry is under the sub-title of ‘chub’ and just one fish would be nice. I wasn’t to be disappointed as I struck at a bite that saw me connect with a fish that was just short of the 4lb mark. Only the one fish obliged, but it meant I had something to write home about, and for that I was grateful!

(Article 19, originally published November 2003. If you like why not share? Thanks)