It’s early evening when we join Ryan Need on the banks of the River Severn.
It’s midweek, scorching hot and most lakes up and down the country are fishing exceptionally slowly, but Ryan is confident of action during a quick evening session on one of the UK’s most famous rivers.
“Growing up in Birmingham, I’ve spent a lot of time targeting urban venues over the years and though I’ve done most of my fishing on public park lakes, it’s inner-city rivers that really get me excited.
"As well as offering a completely different angling situation, there’s still that element of surprise. You really don’t know what you’re going to catch next.”
Although Ryan has fished all areas of the river, he’s found marinas, boat yards and areas of calmer water to be the most productive.
For the evening, we are going to be fishing one of the river’s many marinas – an area where Ryan has had considerable success over the last couple of years.
“You do find carp in the main flow of the river, but I’ve often found that areas of calmer water tend to be the most productive.
"It doesn’t necessarily have to be a marina either, just anywhere where there’s a little less flow.
"The great thing about rivers is that carp anglers often ignore them so you can usually get a spot rocking, safe in the knowledge nobody is going to stitch you up.”
Ryan’s current syndicate lake is fishing poorly at the minute due to spawning fish and prolonged high temperatures, giving him the opportunity to put a bit of time in on the river.
Although he isn’t expecting to break any records, there’s a very good chance of a twenty on certain stretches of the Severn and even whispers of elusive thirties further upstream.
Size is completely irrelevant though, because most of the fish Ryan has caught over the years have been absolutely stunning, with jet-black commons and scaly mirrors frequently kissing the spreader block.
“I’ve been priming a couple of spots for the last few days,” explains Ryan, as he grabs his gear from the van.
“It’s quite weedy around the marina at the minute but that doesn’t bother me too much. I’ve baited close to a couple of boats the last few days and I’m certain if the fish have been feeding, they will have cleared a couple of spots.”
Walking past dog walkers, people drinking in a bar and boat owners, Ryan turns up at the first spot of the evening.
The water is already noticeably cloudy and there’s no visible sign that any boats have moved, so it’s more than likely there are carp already feeding in the area.
“This is exactly what I was expecting,” whispers Ryan, as he rustles around in his rucksack.
“I trickled a bit of bait in this morning, knowing there was a good chance the fish could be here when I arrived this evening.
"This area holds loads of silver fish so I opted to bait up with boilies, because there’s more chance of the carp actually getting to eat them.
"That said, when it comes to actually fishing, I like to use solid PVA bags full of pellets because they can be presented on the bottom perfectly, regardless of any weed or debris.
"Plus when they dissolve they release loads of attraction, making them perfect for my quick-hit sessions.”
Ryan is super-prepared and already has a couple of solid PVA bags tied up. He soon has his hookbait carefully positioned close to a boat and the area he’d been baiting for the past couple of days.
With fish activity in the area, Ryan puts two PVA bags on the spot, sinks his mainline and slackens everything off, because he’s only fishing a couple of yards out.
“I’ve done a couple of test sessions recently and have found that bites come relatively quickly if carp are in the area. If I’ve had no bites or liners within the first half hour, I will generally move onto the next area I’ve baited.”
Ryan’s rod has only been in the water for 10 minutes when his mainline pulls tight and the tip shakes violently as an angry carp attempts to seek refuge under the nearest boat.
Ryan lifts the rod, applies pressure and after a few seconds of stalemate, the line direction changes, indicating that he’s managed to get the fish under control.
“It’s not a big fish,” says Ryan, sliding the net under a dumpy common.
“I told you it doesn’t take long when they are here.”
As Ryan lifts the carp out of the water an audience gathers, with one man asking what kind of fish it was and how much it weighed.
Ryan reveals that he’s bagged a carp and puts an estimate on the fish of around 12lb. It was no monster, but it was a common full of character that looked like it could tell you a few stories if it could talk.
“Now if I was fishing on a lake there’s a good chance that I’d stick it out in this swim for a little bit longer, because there’d probably be a good chance of another bite.
"I’ve found the river to be slightly different though and it pays to move onto the next spot, more often than not.
"The fish will have no doubt spooked off the disturbance, but there’s chance they could be back later in the evening.”
Ryan walks around the marina for about 30 minutes or so, desperately looking for signs of feeding carp.
The final spot he visits is a parking space between two boats. Ryan reveals there has been nothing parked in the space for the last couple of days, so he’s been introducing a little bit of bait.
It’s his banker spot and the area that he thinks gives the best chance of a bite.
There are no signs of feeding fish but this doesn’t deter Ryan, as he carefully lowers a solid bag onto his prebaited area.
The spot has seen a couple of kilos of boilies over the last couple of days so there’s every chance fish have been visiting the spot on a daily basis.
With one rig in position, Ryan lays the rod on the deck and loosens his clutch.
The action is nowhere near as quick on this spot and 20 minutes later Ryan is still staring intently at the water, desperately looking for signs of river carp.
“Did you see that,” he whispers excitedly, pointing towards a large vortex a few yards from where his rig is positioned.
Over the course of the next five minutes bubbles emerge occasionally and vortices appear, as carp obviously feed on some of the remaining bait that Ryan introduced earlier in the day.
Surely it’s only a matter of time till one finds his hookbait.
“Here we go,” exclaims Ryan, diving to get the rod, as line begins tearing from the reel.
“This feels like a much better fish,” he exclaims, applying some side strain.
After a short but spirited fight, another common is sulking in the folds of Ryan’s landing net. Result!
The fish is an upper double and although it’s not big by today’s standards, it’s an incredible result from a river, especially on a short evening session.
Ryan sticks it out until dark, catching a lovely little common from the first area he targeted. All in all, Ryan leaves the river a very happy man.
He’s bagged three lovely carp in a short session, giving him the fix he needs while his syndicate lake is in poor form.
If you live near a river or canal, make sure you have a go for the carp. You don’t need to spend days on the bank and can often get a couple of bites in an evening, if you put the ground work in before your session.
River carp generally aren’t hard to catch and it pays to use strong, simple rigs. Remember, it’s all about location.