Any successful river angler knows that shoals of fish are never evenly distributed. There will often be long stretches that are completely barren of anything fishy, particularly in areas where the gravel bottom is carpeted with silt deposits.
The characteristics of river species is that pockets of fish shoal up in tight hotspots, which remain favourite holding areas for generations. Find any of these areas and your success rates could soar!
Clean gravel beds are a key hotspot on any river. Kept clean of silty build up by foraging fish, these areas offer a ready food supply for mini species, notably dace, through to big barbel. These areas can also produce good sport in winter for dace and grayling.
Shaded bridge runs are another hotspot well worth investigating. These darker areas are favoured by mini species which, in turn, draw in predatory pike and perch. Deeper water under any bridge is also a key holding area for river carp.
Channels running alongside dense reeds are another favourite chub haunt. Even in winter, when they become a mass of dead stubble, you’ll often find big fish using the stems as concealment from shoals of fish such as minnows. A freelined bait such as a juicy lobworm can often be the winning method.
Slacker, deeper water is a top daytime haunt for larger species, where they conserve energy and shoal up among the weedbeds or where the bank is undercut.
Tidal stretches are usually prolific areas to focus on as they offer lots of species a veritable feast of edible goodies. Dace, roach and carp in particular seem to tolerate the brackish water, and you’ll often find them right at the mouth of the river where it spills out into the sea. Tidal stretches have fluctuating water levels and can be tricky to master, but the rewards are definitely there.
Weirpools, including simple boulder constructions, experience increased current speeds, which keep the bottom clean and raise oxygen levels. They are worth a cast in the height of summer, where sluggish stretches festooned with weeds can lower oxygen levels. Weirpools are also key places for predators such as pike and perch.
Locate overhanging trees and bushes and there’s sure to be a shoal of chub underneath, using the dark shade as a point of ambush for passing prey. Barbel also favour these spots, especially on bright, sunny days. Present a bait as close as you possibly can and you could connect with a proper river whacker.