England’s longest river, the Severn emerges energetically in Wales and sweeps down into the Bristol Channel. The upper reaches teem with fish, from salmon to gudgeon
In its higher reaches the Severn is just a lusty little stream. This part gives little indication that it is to develop into England’s longest river, 215 miles long. Rising on Plynlimon, it travels east before arcing through the Shropshire Plain where a switch in direction puts it in a southerly course past the Wrekin, through Ironbridge and then through the rich pastures of Worcestershire and Gloucestershire to its wide estuary.
The Severn is a first-rate fishing river with improving salmon catches. In recent years, 10Olb-plus match catches of barbel have been taken, and many more catches topping the 80 lb mark have been made at Bridgnorth, Shrewsbury, Arley, and from the deeper, breamy reaches around Tewkesbury.
Current indications suggest the population of barbel in the river has levelled out. During the past few years there have not been so many massive hauls made and it is interesting to note that this has coincided with better catches of chub. Dace are showing more and more in swims, and winter roach fishing has steadily improved.
Coarse fishing is available in all of the river’s varied reaches – much of it on day ticket, but a lot controlled by the Birmingham Anglers’ Association which only issues associate membership on an annual basis. A regular visitor to the Severn would, therefore, be well advised to obtain one of these. The cost of associate membership is £12.00 for coarse fishing, £15.00 including trout fishing, and £3 for juniors.
Down to Bewdley
From the mountains down to Bewdley the river is very popular. At Llanidloes the Birmingham AA has a mile-long stretch of shallow stream where a fair number of brook-sized trout are found and below Caersws it controls both banks in two sections near the A492-A470 junction. Here, too, the Red Lion Hotel issues day tickets for a small stretch on the left bank. At Landinam the Severn-Trent Water Authority now operate an excellent day ticket trout fishery along about 4 miles of the Severn. This water is regularly stocked with brown trout which offer some lively sport with the best fishing in the warmer months. Maesmawr Hotel below Caersws has day ticket water.
In this area, with the exception of small trout, most fish are large – especially chub and dace. One is more likely to have large sized fish than a big catch. The river here is affected by the influx of cold compensation water released regularly from the Clywedog Reservoir and this tends to make the fish spasmodic feeders. The Birmingham AA controls water upstream of Newtown, and farther downstream a left bank stretch above and below the bridge at Aberbechan. There are two other stretches nearby, and tackle dealer L Bebb in Newtown issues day tickets for these.
Access is directly from the A483 and is clearly marked.
The Liverpool and District AA controls about two miles of fishing at Leighton, near Welshpool, where salmon and coarse fishing is available. Nearby along the Shrop-shire Union Canal the Cammell Laird Sports Club, Birkenhead, control 2lA miles of fishing along both banks. There is a fair amount of day ticket fishing available in the area, and details can be obtained from local tackle dealers. These include waters both along the Severn and many of the smaller feeder streams like the Mule, Carno, Tanat, Banwy and Camlad rivers, as well as the nearby River Vyrnwy. The Mon-tgomeryshire AA controls a lot of fishing in the area and issue day
Near Forden, by the B4388 road, the Birmingham AA controls about 2 miles of right bank water where the dace fishing is excellent. Then downstream at Cil-Cewydd Bridge, where the A490 crosses the river, there is a long stretch of free fishing with access clearly marked.
At Welshpool, the Hazeldine Angling Association of Bilston controls a portion of the river, and the Birmingham AA has more double bank fishing from here to Buttington Bridge where the river is crossed by the A483. It also has waters downstream near the Powis Arms and at many other venuea: Magnin-nis Bridge, Maesydd, Pool Quay and on the opposite bank at Criggion. tickets for much of it. The Birmingham AA also controls a right bank fishery above and below Llan-drinio Bridge on the B4393, and the right bank downstream at Crewe Green and Alberbury. Again, most of this water is likely to yield the big fish rather than the big catch. Breadflake is a good bait and has tempted chub to 5lb.
In this area the River Vyrnwy joins the Severn and there is more free fishing for licence holders below the confluence. Day tickets are available along the good fishing River Vyrnwy too.
Back on the Severn, the Birmingham AA has water at Montford Bridge by the A5 and below at Bic-ton. Clubs then control most sections of the river down to Shrewsbury where local tackle dealers issue day tickets for considerable bank space in the town and below at Monkmoor.
The Quarry Park waters are noted for their dace fishing in the upper section on both sides of the Welsh Bridge, and roach and chub are to be caught in the deeper runs near the English Bridge. The record match catch here topped 84lb of chub for five hours fishing. They were taken with wasp grub bait, though maggots, hemp, bread, tares and casters more usually account for good catches. There is also some excellent salmon fishing near Shrewsbury Weir, and local tackle dealers will give information.
Below Shrewsbury the Birmingham AA has an equally good salmon fishery at Underdale where large chub, dace and barbel are also found. The Monkmoor stretch lies downstream and is approached from the A5112 just past the hospital. This is available on a day ticket basis. Farther on, the Severn-Trent W&te Authority has a lengthy fishery above the bridge on the left bank, and downstream on the right bank all the way to Berrington where the Birmingham AA rights start again. In this area the Provincial Angling Association and the Prince Albert Angling Society have fishing on the left bank.
More Birmingham AA waters follow at right bank Cound Lodge and on both banks at Buildwas near the junction of the B4378. At Cressage there is a day ticket fishery on the Braby Estate and the Estate Office in nearby Eyton-on-Severn. Other day ticket water is available at Ironbridge, with the tickets obtainable from local tackle dealers. This is the section where double figure barbel have been caught. Below the town the river bubbles and crashes through the gorge and there is superb free fishing along the left bank. Day tickets are also available from the Half Moon Inn at
Jackfield for a stretch there where chub over 6 lb have been caught.
The fishing from this is club- 1 controlled and strictly preserved as far as Bridgnorth, but immediately “I below the town is the start of the big match country famous all over England. Coventry and District Angling Association and the Whit-more Reans Angling Association control rights as far as left bank Danery and right bank Knowl Sands at which point the Birmingham AA rights start again. They then control the fishing with few breaks through Quatford, Eardington, Hampton Loade, Highley and Arley off the A442. This is the most popular fishery on the Severn, and the Birmingham AA’s proudest possession. At right bank Hampton Loade day ticket water is available, and at Alveley, the Kinver Freeliners Angling Society lets a 40-peg stretch for club bookings.
This last stretch of water is really excellent for coarse fishing. Barbel to 9 lb have been taken, catches of them in excess of 100 lb (top match catch 83 lb), plus quality chub, dace – which are beginning to show again – and some superb roach in winter. River depths vary from 2ft to 12ft and swim characteristics are just as different, from fast flowing fords to breamy-looking lies. The most popular technique at the moment is swimfeeder fishing.
Around Bewdley most of the water is controlled by the Kidderminster and District Angling Association which issues honorary cards at a reasonable cost. This is a section of the Severn with such famous bankside names as Hawk-batch, Dowles and Winterdyne. It is the area which, in July 1978, yielded the Severn match catch record of 114 lb lloz. Barbel abound, as do big chub and large shoals of bream. Sometimes the water is black with great shoals of barbel and chub feeding with abandon.
This then is the fabulous Severn. Though only half-way to its estuary, it is a river of a thousand moods and just as many different swims.