Well-oxygenated and containing a variety of fish species, weir pools are among the best features along any stretch of river – but at first glance they can seem daunting places to tackle.
Powerful flows generating white foam on the surface, unseen snags, weed and variable flows and depths all present a challenge to the angler, but the fish which live in a weir are pretty predictable when it comes to seeking out where they live.
1) Target ‘crease’ for Chub
Chub love to sit just out of the main current, ready to spot food items carried their way by the flow. ‘Crease’ swims, points where fast water meets slow, can be productive – chub will often dart out and grab a meal.
Try a static bait fished to the edge of the crease, using a bomb or small maggot or cage feeder and a sizeable bait that the fish can’t miss. A bunch of maggots is good if small fish aren’t a problem, otherwise a lobworm, breadflake or a 10mm halibut pellet will do the job. Use the feeder to get some bait down before you begin to fish. A waggler, stick or Avon float can also work, trotted past the slack.
You can loosefeed, but make sure it goes in well upstream so it hits bottom where the fish are.
2) Find Roach, dace and pike here
Roach and dace cope well with fast currents and can be found in the fast water run-off. Pike won’t be far away either, especially if there is a deep hole nearby to attract prey fish.
Use a stick float or waggler to catch the small fish, finding a clean-bottomed run to trot the rig 50 yards downstream. Keep a steady stream of maggots, casters or hemp going in every trot. You’ll soon work out where the feed is hitting bottom as this will be where bites come from.
On the hook go for single or double maggot and set the float to just touch bottom. Alternatively, a small maggot feeder will present a still bait if the pace and flow are too swift. This method can also pick up bonus fish such as chub or big perch.
3) Bream love slack-water areas
Just below the weir sill the water may look turbulent, but on the bottom it can be quite slow-moving. Big bream often populate these areas, getting away from the maelstrom of the main weir and picking off natural food.
A feeder will be the only sensible tactic, and bream love groundbait, so go for a cage model packed with crumb and a good helping of chopped worm, casters and/or pellets. A whole worm is the king of hookbaits for bream.
Pick a feeder carrying a loading of 1oz or more to start, and be prepared to go heavier, if needed, to hold bottom. Cast the feeder into the head of the weir and it will sink to the bottom where the slower water is. Fish with the rod in the air to keep as much line off the turbulent surface as possible.
4) Get tight to the weir for Perch and barbel
The two species most likely to be found directly under the weir itself are perch and barbel. Both benefit from the back eddies created by the pool that will bring food items their way.
For barbel, it has to be the straight lead using a big weight to anchor the bait in the flow. Give the fish a bait they can’t miss – a fishy or meaty boilie or pellet between 10mm and 16mm, or even an old-fashioned piece of luncheon meat or a lobworm. Use a safety lead clip system if possible, as this will allow a fish to escape should you lock up in a snag. Also ensure your tackle is up to the job – that means a minimum of 12lb line and a size 8 hook.
To loosefeed, a PVA bag packed with pellets and chopped boilies will ensure a patch of feed around the hookbait but be sure to thread the bag down your hooklink – simply nicking it on to the hook will see the bag ripped off by the flow long before the rig settles.
If perch are your target, then investigate back eddies or slightly slower water to the side of the main sill, which is a super ambush point for perch.
A legered lobworm will sort them out, but a brilliant way to locate the perch is to cast around with a lure rod and a small jig. This will locate any fish in the pool and you can then cast a legered worm, loosefeeding red maggots, to try to catch a specimen.