The river season is here and to help you get started in the best way possible we’ve gone to specimen ace Dai Gribble to give us his best early season river fishing tips to help you catch more this year.
1) Beat the vegetation
On many stretches of river the bankside vegetation will have grown up during the closed season, making many swims you fished back in March difficult to access.
Make sure you have the appropriate clothing to be able to get to such swims – you don’t want to be restricted in your choice of spots because you’re wearing shorts, for example. It’s far better to wear nettle-resistant trousers to avoid having to tiptoe into swims like a ballet dancer!
Shoulder-high vegetation brings insects, many of which bite and sting, so make sure you have some insect repellent and anti-histamine tablets with you to ensure you don’t have to cut your fishing trip short.
2) Go for visible baits
One of my favourite methods on rivers at this time of year when visibility is good is stalking.
Casting a bait to a fish you can see, and hopefully watching it take it, is exhilarating stuff.
I find natural baits such as lobworms, slugs and even snails are perfect for this approach.
Not only are such baits fairly heavy, meaning they can be cast easily with no added weight, but they are very visible. This makes it easier to spot when a fish has taken the bait.
3) Protect your hookpoints
When legering in a river, opt for a hook pattern with a beaked point, which is least likely to be damaged on gravel or other hard items on the river bed.
This is particularly important in rivers as the current will move the hook around until it settles in one position, and it is this movement that increases the risk of damage to the hookpoint.
Even with beaked point hooks it makes sense to check the hook for damage between each cast, just in case.
4) Use bigger floats
Using as light a float as possible might seem logical to improve sensitivity when fishing for roach, dace and chub, but in many cases that is at the cost of control.
A heavier float is easier to control and a well-controlled float will lead to more bites, as the bait will be far better presented.
When using floats such as Loafers and Avons with the line attached top and bottom, it is essential that your line floats.
Spray your spool with silicone line flotant before tackling up to ensure the line immediately above the float is well coated.
5) Make a barbel mix
Pellets are a very effective bait for barbel. My feeder mix will draw the fish in and keep them feeding for longer.
I use Hemp and Hali Crush groundbait and Sonubaits Barbel Pellets mixed in a 3:1 ratio.
Small particles are best for keeping fish in your swim and I use a range of sizes of pellets from 2mm up to 6mm, so the fish don’t get preoccupied on one size of bait.
Make the mix firm so it stays in the feeder and gradually breaks down, releasing a trail of attraction downstream.
6) Wade Safely
Wading makes swims more accessible for floatfishing on rivers when you’re after barbel and chub – just remember to take care.
Never go wading into water where you’re not sure of the depth, and either use a wading staff or a landing net handle to check the depth in front of you.
Get your kit prepared too – I tend to wear a small tackle bag around my waist to store bait and any rig essentials I might need, but remember not to overload yourself.