AFTER a prolonged drought-like spell of low and clear rivers, sudden downpours of heavy rain are a very welcome sight for many anglers, including myself, who have struggled for regular bites for months.
Rising water levels, combined with all that added colour, can really turn river species on to the feed.
Certain species, such as chub and pike, may not be so keen to go on the munch, but other species, especially barbel and roach, will often fall foul of a tasty hookbait presented in the stained water.
Flooded rivers may not look very appealing, but the rewards are most definitely there.
It’s just a question of seeking out calmer areas, which the fish will instinctively head for when the flow gathers extra energy-sapping pace and items of debris are tumbling in the maelstrom.
I’m far happier tackling familiar venues in flood conditions, not only for the safety aspect of being familiar with my surroundings, but also for having better knowledge of where all those key sanctuary areas are.
Confluences, carriers and even small ditches that are ignored in normal conditions are well worth investigating when the river is up and coloured.
Any natural or man-made obstruction that creates slacker areas is also a cert for harbouring fish, including smaller specimens that will help attract perch, which can utilise the extra colour in the water to help mask their presence from their prey fish.
1. All that extra colour may make flooded rivers seem a complete waste of time, but it’s what all those eager barbel fanatics have been waiting for. Bumper catches often occur immediately after heavy rain. Big roach can also be easier to tempt. I’ve had some exciting jumbo roach sport just as the river has started to fine down. Perch are also a worthwhile floodwater target. They seem to take full advantage of the extra colour to ambush unsuspecting prey, which shoal up en masse and seek sanctuary in the slacker areas.
2. Any side streams and ditches are well worth checking out when the main river is a raging no-no. The junction point, where a side stream meets the main river, can create an area of steadier water that acts as a magnet for fish keen to escape the energy draining rush of the main river. Ditches, carriers and side streams that are mere trickles and get overlooked under normal conditions are often stuffed with all manner of species and can be the only areas where it’s possible to float fish.
3. Undercut banks, scoured out by flowing rivers, are excellent fish-holding areas regardless of the conditions, but they become real hot spots in periods of flooding. Approach these areas with cautious foot steps, as the fish can often be under your feet, and use a large bait dropper to introduce feed on the deck, lowering it straight down from the edge of the bank. Don’t try to introduce feed by hand – it will simply roll around in the upper layers and drift downstream.
4. Man-made structures offer calmer water whenever river levels rise. Bridge buttresses are an obvious fish magnet in flood conditions. They protect fish and your rig from debris. Such structures can often be the only spots for presenting a float, but usually a big feeder is better. You’ll be surprised just how many fish these slacker areas of water can yield. Expect some great sport at these times, when other anglers have turned up, looked at the boiling, chocolate-coloured water and headed straight for home.