In his popular weekly blog for this Angler's Mail website, Colin Mitchell discusses fishing practices in wet weather.
AS I write this the rain is hammering down against the window and the local radio has issued some flood warnings – so an opportune time to talk about fishing when there’s a bit of extra water about!
So many anglers take one look at a flooded river and head for the nearest stillwater. On a safety note, that’s a good move but at the same time you could also be missing out on some great and easy sport.
First things first: if you do go out to fish in a raging torrent take precautions. Don’t go alone, wear a lifejacket if you can, and certainly do not fish from spots where you could easily end up in the drink. Watch out for undercut banks!
And don’t be a pratt like I was once when I parked up a bit close to the river – the tide came in, flood water came downstream with an almighty rush and I just managed to get my trusty Escort out of the water before it reached the engine…
If you want some easy fishing when there are floods about look for the slack areas. The fish will love to shelter there from the faster waters that they are more used to. Likewise, lock cuts, where small streams enter main rivers, backwaters – anywhere where the flow is a bit slower than the main stream will hold fish. In fact they cold hold a lot of fish!
Just like normal conditions, a crease between slack water and flow is nearly always a hotspot where fish wait for their grub to be served up to them.
And don’t reject a swim just because it appears to be flowing fast. Quite often the water below the surface is a lot slower. Bung on a light leger or a float carrying a bit of weight and you may be surprised at how light you can fish to keep a bait nailed down or moving through slowly.
I remember years ago watching the Trent in a raging flood and there were roach topping right in the middle. It just shows that fish are a lot better in the water than even our best Olympic swimmers!
The extra colour means you won’t have to fish really fine lines and tiny hooks. But remember to match the hook size to the bait. Some species feed better in coloured water, providing the water is not too cold – like it would be from melted snow!
Bream are a good bet, as are roach. Barbel anglers love to see a bit of extra colour and flow – and don’t always find their quarry in the slacker water! Perch and pike aren’t noted for showing in coloured conditions but I have had them both when water has been chocolate.
Remember, pike are cute and they won’t miss out on the easy meal they can get when lots of prey fish cram into a slack area! There’s no secret bait either – although a nice juicy lobworm does tend to sort out a few specimens when water is coloured.
You’ll find that maggots also work, as will nice smelly pellets and boilies and good old meat! Fish aren’t so reluctant to back off groundbait either when then there is colour in the water – in fact crumb will help you attract fish and get feed to the bottom.
One of the problems you could have is with false bites as leaves and other rubbish hit your line and pull round quivertips or snag on shot and hooks and pull under the float. There is no simple way around this on the float but when fishing the leger or feeder keep as much line out of the water as possible by getting your rod tip up high. This will also mean less drag on your line and you will hold bottom with less weight.
Of course, stillwaters and canals do give you an option if you don’t fancy flowing water – but those venues that are connected in some way to a river will also colour up. That could also mean an upturn in sport on those cuts and lakes, so floods aren’t always the sport killer that you might think they are!