On Saturday I went to Earlswood Lakes on the bream lake for the first time in a few weeks and drew peg 51 on the dam wall. Several weeks ago this was one of the best areas to be on the Windmill Lake with lots of big bream being taken. Unfortunately for me it would appear the bulk of the fish have moved off the area and settled further up the lake. I did think however at one stage in the match that I was in with a chance as I'd got six bream in the net with two hours to go. I could only manage another one in the last two hours and my weight of fourteen pounds was only good enough for second in the section (seventeen pounds won it). Twenty-eight pounds won the match from peg sixty on the causeway but generally it was a hard match for most.

Next day I was back at Bridgnorth on the Severn and really fancied my chances of a major prize when I drew one above the "fallen ash" swim. The swim I was on had framed with forty pounds of barbel the previous week and produced a big pleasure catch on the Tuesday so you can imagine how I felt driving to the peg! Unfortunately, heavy rain had brought the river level up and the swim was effectively ruined for my match. I did get a bit excited after ten minutes though when I had a barbel of around four pounds. Next barbel came after four and a half hours… enough said!

Sunday night was fun. I took my girlfriend Jo to catch her first ever barbel from a swim in the "gulley" at Winterdyne five minutes drive from home. She had to wait forty minutes for her first bite but what a bite! A four-pound barbel was the reward quickly followed by a three pounder. Now she wants a bigger one!

I've been doing some experimenting on the river this week with some pleasing results. When the Severn is running high and coloured one of the most successful baits is luncheon meat. I've been trying various ways of using the bait in conjunction with an open-end cage feeder and I've had some barbel up to eight pounds along the way.

This style of fishing is a definite "take no prisoners" approach. I've been using the new Matchtek 13 "Severn barbel feeder" rod with eight pound Maxima and a size eight Mustad method feeder hook. Some of the bites have been incredible and it's been an interesting learning process. Fishing in this way is all about belief. Once you've caught a few on big pieces of meat you can sit in the confidence that you will get more.

There is a lot more to meat fishing than some people realise. You can thread several small pieces up the line or use single big pieces. Using an open-end cage feeder you can introduce lots of small pieces in groundbait to attract fish into the swim. Best groundbait mix to date has been a bag of Leeda "Dynamic Feeder" mixed with two pints of brown crumb. Into this mix about a pint of cooked hemp and a few casters. Plug several small cubes of meat into the feeder with the mix with a big offering on the hook and stand by for blast off!

As I write I've just looked out of the window and the river is still carrying about three foot of extra water and quite coloured. We really do need some dry weather to get things back to normal again and the river floatfishable.

This weekend I'm off to Earlswood again. There are strong winds forecast for Saturday and this should result in some good bream catches. Sunday I'm not quite sure where to go yet. Maybe the Severn at Emstrey or maybe Woodlands. I'll let you know how things went next week.