Rain can sometimes be the match angler’s best friend when rivers are low and clear and in desperate need of freshening up but on the flip side, a downpour can wreck a well-honed match plan overnight, ruining a perfect-looking river in hours and producing blanks aplenty.
I’ve been there plenty of times, fishing matches where one fish could win and a bite, let alone something in the net is worth shouting about! However, on the right venue, heavy rain that changes the game can actually present a match-winning opportunity, especially if there are bream and barbel about.
My local Warks Avon around Stratford is a prime example of this. On a normal day I would expect to be fishing for roach and chub but when the rain comes down and the river rises and colours up, these two species vanish. They’re replaced instead by skimmers, hybrids, bream and if you’re lucky a barbel. Changing your plans and of course fishing the right areas in the first place can actually produce better fishing than if the river was in perfect nick.
You’ve got a good peg - what now?
If you are lucky enough to get on a bream peg, the job is still far from done and even before you unzip the rod bag, the first consideration is where to fish in the peg. I look straight away for any large amount of slack water, whether that is caused by a bay or water running off of a bend. The point where a river opens out from narrows is also a guaranteed bream area.
The swim I’m fishing on the Avon has just that, slack water close to the far bank created by a slight bend and I know from experience that there’s also a silt bed here. This silt will be full of natural food like bloodworm and bream won’t move far from here. To find a silty bottom, cast a feeder or bomb out and wind it slowly back across the riverbed. Resistance caused by the lead digging into the silt tells you that you have found what you’re looking for.
The feeder is king
Rod and line is the only option for tackling a slack at range and the waggler just won’t present the bait still enough so it’ll be an out and out feeder job.
My rig for a river like the Avon is nothing special, made up of the feeder running on the mainline that has a short four inch twizzled length above the hooklink, which creates a bit of a semi bolt rig effect. Mainline is reliable old 6lb Maxima, the feeder being a 30g Garbolino wire cage. Hooklink is 2.5ft or 3ft of 0.16mm Garbo Line, this length putting the bait ell downstream of the feeder which is where you often find bigger bream sat below the feed picking off particles.
That only leaves the hook to pick and I can’t fault a size 13 Kamasan B711. All of this sounds like powerful kit for bream fishing but in coloured water I honestly think that the fish are not wary of big hooks and big baits. I also don’t want to lose what I hook!
Cage or plastic feeder?
I prefer a cage feeder over a plastic model as they empty quicker but also don’t flex in flowing water as a plastic feeder can, which gives false indications on the tip. A wire cage feeder also adds more overall weight to hold bottom, doing away with the need for add-on weights. Around 30g is ample to hold bottom in a slack so long as you have the rod pointed up in the air keeping as much line as possible off the surface where the strongest flow is.
Add some fishmeal
With colour in the water, bream will feed my scent and not eyesight so a groundbait to go in the feeder needs something powerful to stop them and that means fishmeal. I’ll mix up a ‘normal’ bream blend of Sensas Lake and Feeder but also add a good helping of Bait-Tech Marine Halibut Mix. If the river was low and clear though, the Halibut would go as I’d expect to catch roach, dace, chub and perch as well as bream. Not in water the colour of tea though! This is mixed relatively dry to empty out of the feeder quickly.
Packed with goodness
Keeping with the positive theme, I try and cram each feederful with as many particles as I can if I draw on some bream. That’s simply casters, chopped worm and dead maggots that lace the groundbait because a 5lb bream can demolish a feeder of bait in one go. Imagine this happening with a dozen fish in the area and you can see how much feed needs to go in.
Too many anglers put an initial hit of feed in, catch a few and then stop getting bites. They then sit and wait, hoping that the bream have backed off and will return but on a coloured river, the reason is more likely to be that there’s no food left! You have to be attacking.
On the hook
Nothing can beat worms on a coloured river and while a dendra or lobworm tail are good, I swear by two large redworms tipped with a dead red maggot. Redworms wriggle like mad and a bream can pick them out far quicker than three dead maggots.
Keep the bait going in
I’ll cast every five minutes even if I’m not getting bites to keep the bait going in on a regular basis as you have to be positive. Clipping up and aiming to a far bank marker will put the feeder in the right place each time.
If I cast and get a knock on the tip immediately then this tells me that the fish are not backing off and that they want the feed so you need to try and read the timing of the bite, if I am left waiting five minutes for an indication then the fish could be backing off.
That’s a bite!
With the rod up in the air, a bite from a bream will either be a big drop back as they move the feeder or a couple of taps on the tip followed by a positive pull. The key is to make sure that the fish is on and that means not striking too early. Always let the bite develop fully.
Six feeders of bait go in at the start and I would expect indications quickly. If nothing happens after half an hour but I am getting small fish knocks then this tells me more bait needs to go in so out goes another six feederfuls. If nothing is happening at all then it will be a bit of a waiting game so you’ll need to leave the feeder out for longer and wait. Provided you have drawn a bream peg and conditions are right, there’s no reason why they won’t feed.