The start of my summer river fishing probably came like most of yours, with bank high floods from a swollen brown river. Not impossible conditions to catch barbel in I fully admit, as I have like most anglers have caught many fine fish in a warm flooded river. But it just was not the low clear Severn I had been watching and preparing for over the last few weeks of the close season. My river kit had been re vamped with some sexy new Korum gear, rigs had been tied and my favourite Sonu baits mixes and hook baits ready for the off.
The recent low and clear conditions had me dreaming of fine and delicate presentations, dare I wish it, even a session or two standing in chest waders, waist deep, in the warm summer Severn with either a float or trundled bait! In reality there was no chance of either of these tactics happening. I would be lucky if I could find the inside of a bend where the flow was calm enough for me to hold down a three-once feeder. It was going to be more like big river winter tactics than the summer fishing I had been dreaming of, but we cannot choose what conditions nature provides for us, so it was just going to be get on with it time.
So, my first barbel session started under my 50” graphite brolly tucked in nice and tight between some willows on the inside of a right-handed bend desperately trying to hold bottom on the inside of a very powerful flow. The majestic! Severn was carrying an opaque two meters of raging flood water and id switched tactics to heavy tips and swim feeders. It was nice to be out though and after a few hours spent fishing under the tips in different areas I started to get the feedback from the tips that I had been searching for. I must say at this point that I am more of an angler that loves to have freedom in his angling and if I don’t find any joy in a swim within an hour or so I like to up sticks and try a new swim, sitting and waiting is not my game.
The vibrations and bounces being received by the quiver tips relayed to me that I had at last crashed into the front room of my quarry, Big river fish fall foul of a fluorocarbon leader and cannot help giving away their presence, it makes for exciting fishing I must say. Although after an hour of this action and a re placed feeder and hook bait every ten minutes or so I started to get the notion that not all was playing to my plan and I might just be giving the fish far too much room to get away with things. As those hideous streaks of doubt in your presentation started to creep through my thoughts, I clawed at reasons why one of my rods had not buckled over by now! All I could come up with is that in my pre thought out plan I had gone fine and far off expecting a low river.
Delicate was indeed my approach with fine lines and small hooks and baits, not even had I two small pellet “O s “on the hair but just one with my favourite size 10 Xpert specimen hook. After what seemed like an age of deliberation my mind started to clear. I had experienced this situation before, many hazy years ago but I had solved this problem once before. In heavy flows where our quarry is shoaled up quite tightly in pockets of “calmer” water feed and hook baits were at their most effective fished very close together. I had gone long, that long in fact that my bait must have been three feet behind my feeder. Yes, in clear and low conditions while fishing in fast water this method for me kills the Barbel, but in these small pockets of “easy” water my bait was simply behind the fish. The answer was there! Shorten the hook bait these fish were picking up and testing the feeder.
The change from a near three feet of hook link to a mere eight to ten inches almost immediately resulted in a hooped over rod. Bites came steadily for the rest of the session and although I was not on the river more than a few hours I left happy with a nice bag of Barbel and my first good double of the year. In hindsight I admit, I was wrong to go to the river with pre conceived ideas but this is why I love this quick hit style of angling as to make the most of it you have to constantly evaluate your session and ring the changes to make it happen.
I love it