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Andrew Pilgrim

Advanced River Fishing Techniques Pt2

This week I would like to write about how to tackle fishing in a flooded river. If you haven’t read Part1 it can be found here. https://essexanglers.co.uk/advanced-river-fishing-techniques-pt1/

Please do read it, off you go, the rest of us will wait.

All read and digested? good stuff , then I shall continue.

Now we all understand what’s happening to the flow under the surface of any given river lets bear that in mind and think about how to approach a river in flood.

The Suffolk Stour last week.

So how would we approach a river like this?….. CAREFULLY is the answer, the banks are slippy, the water is running fast. I have a small readership and I cant afford to loose any of my loyal followers.

When you arrive at a flooded river you may be tempted to take one look and get back in their car to head for the nearest carp puddle for some easy fishing. But flooded rivers can offer some great days fishing, and they are pretty easy to master provided you follow the following easy steps.

1/ TRAVEL LIGHT Take only what you think you will need. Rod, Net, Rest and bag of basic tackle is all you need. A feeder rod is perfect, 4lb main line for general fishing, 6lb if you may encounter a Chub or two, Hooks in sizes 16-8, some big shot and a few weights.

2/ TAKE A WALK. Don’t just plonk yourself down in the most comfortable swim you come across. Take a walk and identify where the fish will be. Remember that the fish haven’t gone anywhere they will just maybe not be where they usually are. You need to find where they have chosen to hold up out of the torrent.

3/ IDENTIFY LIKELY LOOKING AREAS. This is the key to successful river fishing at this time. That you are looking for are the following. Slack water on the inside of bends, ‘Cow drinks’ that offer some slack water, junctions where a slower river joins and structure on the bank, trees walls etc, that will divert the flow creating slower flowing water behind them. Can you see the theme here? that’s right we want to find some water which has less flow than the main river. Here are some pictures of the Suffolk Stour and the Colne taken last week. They were both pulling hard with weed, leaves and the odd branch flying past Now lets have some fun….The river is flowing right to left where would you cast?

Well how did you do?

Lets have a look.

I this picture we can see the flow coming round a bend and hitting the near bank just upstream. However the tree provides just enough deviation to the flow to create a small thin area of slacker water right along the near bank, very close only a foot or so from the submerged bank. In addition we can see a larger area of calmer water across on the far bank. If you fish across to somewhere like this get your rod tip as high as possible, ‘beachcaster’ style to keep as much line out of the fast flowing water as possible.

You can just make out the submerged bank downstream of my position, A big lobworm gently placed along here produced 3 good bites off Chub. Across and downstream is another area which produced one bite. It was a cold day and my beloved Sheena decided to give it a miss which was a shame as her Drennan Acolyte Feeder 11ft Plus would have been perfect for this style of fishing.

The River Colne, Colchester.

What a fantastic fishy looking hole just behind the tree and a huge area across that surely has fish holed up in it.

So we can see that all rivers have holding areas you just have to find them.Unless the river has burst it’s bank I would consider any river in flood as ‘fishable’. Don’t waste too much time in one spot, give it 15-30 mins. No bites then move to the next spot, remember the fish just need finding and as they have been swimming against a flow, using up energy they still need to eat.

Rigs are best kept as simple as possible. Without a doubt ledgering would be my choice with a very simple rig such as this.

If you need to use a heavier weight please never tie it directly to your line. A good Chub will find any available snag and a ‘fixed lead’ can become caught tethering the fish. You should always use a rig such as below where the lead is held in place by a single shot which can slide off should it become snagged leaving you connected to the fish.

One last thing we need to discuss, BAIT!

Most of your usual baits will catch fish but there are a few things to consider that will greatly improve your catch rate. Natural baits such as Worms and Slugs will get washed into rivers in times of flood and the Chub, Perch and Roach are on the lookout for these. Nip the end off your worm to increase its scent trail.

Smelly baits come into their own in heavily coloured water. Cheese, Luncheon Meat and stinky Cheese paste can be killer baits. Tailor the size of baits and hooks to your target species but remember if you are hoping for Big Chub use Big Baits on Big Hooks. I’ve caught 4-5lb Chub on a No4 and a lump of Red Leicester the size of a match box. For you youngsters that’s maybe 27 cubic grams or something, I don’t know, maybe ask your teacher!

KEY POINTS. Stay safe-Travel light- Identify fish holding areas-Keep on the move- Simple rigs and baits- and lastly concentrate on the margin, by which I mean as close to the usual bank as possible.

So there you have it, a simple guide to fishing flooded rivers. Personally I find this the most challenging and yet the most rewarding way to pass a few hours. In fact I think I shall be popping down the Suffolk Stour tomorrow, can’t wait.

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