Having last month covered in some detail river characteristics and timing your fishing to coincide with peak activity, let's look at where best to find fish feeding and sheltering from flood water.

The first thing that strikes you as you walk by the side of a river or a stream carrying extra water, is the flow patterns. Even the most subtle changes under normal conditions now become so glaringly obvious that slacks, eddies and creases cannot be missed and should be noted for not only high water, but also in some cases, for more normal water levels.

Often such subtle features hold larger than average fish too, probably due to the lack of pressure they receive as angler after angler walks to the favoured swims without giving them a second look. Areas to look for are the inside of bends where a crease in the flow is the place to put a bait for barbel, chub and roach. Also try slacks and creases formed by last summers rush beds deflecting currents. Such areas provide plenty of cover and are great swims for pike and perch. Slacks and eddies formed by banks jutting out in places are also shelters and food traps, but perhaps more so will be the undercut bank usually present in such swims. Finally the classic raft swim provides both shelter and ideal ambush points to take food brought along by the floodwater. Be sure however to observe the flows of water in raft swims, as not all will be deep enough or provide sufficient shelter from the current to hold fish.

In all of the above swims, observing the flow patterns in each specific situation before deciding how to tackle the swim is the key to success. For instance some slacks and eddies hold seemingly nothing but snags that consume your rigs and frustrate all attempts to fish them. Then again, such a swim may harbour the fish of your dreams. Itís all a matter of experience, noting the small boils denoting a snag as the water eddies back. But if you don't experiment you won't learn how to make the most of higher water conditions, the key thing is to keep trying. Donít stick with one tactic; keep making small changes to stimulate a bite.

For example, instead of legering static, try twitching the bait every so often to gradually drift the bait downstream searching each feature of the swim. Certainly the use of a float to work a bait through eddies often reduces snagging and depths can be changed a little at a time to thoroughly search the entire swim at all depths over a number of casts.

Raft swims are often more productive under flood conditions when the bait is positioned behind the obstruction, as fishy inhabitants such as chub seek maximum shelter. A bait lightly link legered so to just hold bottom should be cast upstream then bumped back under the raft. Fishing upstream like this increases sensitivity, as having tightened up to allow a slight curve in the quivertip, bites often register by the tip springing back rather than curving forward. Hence the most gentle bites become obvious and hooking ratios are thus increased.

Looking again at the slacks and creases around rush beds, upstream legering is a great approach for perch, pike, barbel and chub. Despite what is said about dirty water often requiring large smelly bait, I very often find that a big lump of bread flake outfishes everything for chub in such swims, with the time between casting and a bite being literally seconds. A variety of baits should always be taken however, lob worms and cheese paste being among the best. The lobworm is top bait for perch in such swims, with some good fresh deadbaits should you fancy a pike. Another often-overlooked alternative approach to such swims involves laying on with the same baits. Here, a float is set around one third overdepth and the bait held on the bottom by either bulked split shot or a small leger bomb. The latter is my preferred method as the lead can be left free running, thus reducing resistance to a taking fish.

All of the above key features have one thing in common. All are close to the bank or right in by the bank, rather than further out in the main push of water. There may be features such as creases and depressions in the river bed midstream, but many more fish will have left such areas until levels begin to normalise than will remain in them. Often species such as chub will route through flooded meadows where waters spread out over flood plains, seeking out worms and other morsels of food. When this happens, you may have the opportunity to stalk them. Should a fish swirl, splash or move into shallow water where their dorsal fin may become exposed, then a free lined lobworm is deadly!

Above all experiment and explore the water, trying static and moving baits until you find out what the fish want on each visit you make to rivers.

Next month I will look at fly fishing for pike, an area of the sport growing in popularity. It can offer excellent advantages in presenting an artificial, such as movement of the lure, control and presentation.
For more information on areas covered in this piece contact me at www.syangling.co.uk

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