Early season river fishing tips

15 bits of advice to help you catch more fish on the rivers

Early season river fishing tips

by Angling Times |

THE next few weeks are an exciting time for river anglers. The landscape is fresh and vibrant, the fish are hungry after spawning and, if you get it right, bites can come thick and fast.

When it comes to tactics, we’re all guilty of falling back on those we’re most comfortable using, even if we know deep down we could probably catch more by trying a new approach.

With that in mind, take a look at the top tips we’ve compiled here for boosting summer catches, and give one or two a go. They could add a whole new dimension to your season!

PELLET FEEDER FOR BARBEL

Blockend swimfeeders aren’t just for holding maggots – they also work great with hemp and caster, or a mix of small pellets, especially for barbel.

Simply hair-rig an 8mm halibut pellet and put 2mm-4mm offerings in the feeder. If there’s a big ‘whiskers’ in the vicinity it will soon show an interest!

PELLET FEEDER FOR BARBEL
PELLET FEEDER FOR BARBEL

SEEDS FOR ROACH

Most people fish maggots for roach, but they’re far from selective and you can end up being plagued by minnows and other small nuisance fish.

Hemp and tares, on the other hand, have a superb record for big roach, and it’s a super-cheap way of fishing as you don’t need much bait. Simply feed six to 10 grains of hemp and the odd tare, then present a single tare just off the bottom with a lightly shotted float rig, and you’ll soon be putting redfins in the net.

SEEDS FOR ROACH
SEEDS FOR ROACH

TRY FAST SHALLOW WATER!

Too many anglers walk past fast-flowing shallow swims and then settle into spots where there aren’t many fish at this time of year. As long as you can find 3ft of water or more, there’s a good chance that the swim will hold chub and barbel, so don’t ignore swims just because they look fast on the surface.

TRY FAST SHALLOW WATER!
TRY FAST SHALLOW WATER!

BREAK OUT THE LONG POLE

Long poles have made fishing for silverfish much easier on some of our slower-moving rivers.

Try using light strung-out rigs and, as a rough guide, use 0.10g for every foot of water. A swim that is 4ft deep should therefore be tackled with a 0.4g float. Use No8 shot in the main, with a No9 or a No10 as your bottom shot, positioned around 6ins to 10ins above the hook.

BREAK OUT THE LONG POLE
BREAK OUT THE LONG POLE

SHALLOW UP FOR CHUB

A lot of anglers miss out on good chub catches in deep water by setting the rig too deep and not feeding frequently enough. You can make some really big hauls by fishing just 3ft to 4ft deep in 12ft of water with a ‘wag and mag’ attack, but only if you keep the feed going in to get the fish competing. A small pouchful every 20 seconds is ample, and to really boost your chances, feed a swim for 15-20 minutes like this before casting out.

SHALLOW UP FOR CHUB
SHALLOW UP FOR CHUB

DON'T FISH TOO LIGHT

If big fish are your target, it can sometimes pay to go for them with pole gear, but make sure everything is strong enough to cope with fish such as barbel. That means 0.20mm to 0.23mm rig lines and hooklengths just a little bit thinner than that.

Feed the swim either with groundbait via a pole cup or with a bait dropper.

DON'T FISH TOO LIGHT
DON'T FISH TOO LIGHT

TRY A FLOAT FOR BARBEL

Floatfishing for barbel is so exciting, and if you’ve never done it, you’re seriously missing out. Keep things simple and use 6lb-8lb mainlines, big, thick wagglers or Avon floats and strong hooks in sizes 10 to 14. A bunch of maggots fished over a loosefeed of casters and hemp will soon get fish feeding. Try to find swims from 4ft-6ft deep and there’s a good chance barbel will be present.

TRY A FLOAT FOR BARBEL
TRY A FLOAT FOR BARBEL

DIG OUT A CRUMB FEEDER

While they don’t fight as hard as barbel, big river bream can still pull your string pretty well, and there’s no better way to target them than with a groundbait feeder. It’s possible to put together some huge weights when there’s colour in the water. Use casters and chopped worms through the feeder with worms on the hook.

DIG OUT A CRUMB FEEDER
DIG OUT A CRUMB FEEDER

CHANGE TAIL LENGTHS

This is an area of river feeder fishing where a lot of anglers miss out on getting better catches by not changing anything. While 2ft 6ins to 3ft is often a very good starting point, try shorter hooklinks if you’re missing bites and go much longer, up to 5ft or 6ft, if you’re not getting any bites at all.

CHANGE TAIL LENGTHS
CHANGE TAIL LENGTHS

CATCH PERCH ON WORMS

Most of our rivers now hold very good stocks of hefty perch, and they’re a great fish to target with both running line and pole gear. If the flow is slight, feed the swim by hand but if there is any pace, a bait dropper works better. Feed a combination of casters and chopped worms, with the latter on the hook.

CATCH PERCH ON WORMS
CATCH PERCH ON WORMS

TRY HOLLOW ELASTICS

Hollow elastics aren’t just for chunky stillwater carp, they’re also excellent on running water when targeting larger-than-average specimens. Try Daiwa Hydrolastic in black, grey and white for big fish, and if smaller fish are your target, then scale down to yellow, pink or blue.

TRY HOLLOW ELASTICS
TRY HOLLOW ELASTICS

BALL IT IN

A big groundbait bombardment at the start of a session when there are a lot of roach or skimmers present can often be the best approach.

Try putting in six to 10 balls to begin with and then fish over it with a bulk-shotted pole rig or a stickfloat/Avon rig on rod and line. If you can find some molehill soil, add this to your mix too, just to get it down quickly on to the riverbed.

BALL IT IN
BALL IT IN

CARP PELLETS FOR CHUB

In the same way that halibut pellets are good for barbel, fishmeal pellets make a great feed and hookbait for chub. Feed with 6mm pellets and use a banded 8mm pellets on the hook.

On more difficult waters, feed 4mm pellets and use a banded 6mm pellet on the hook. You don’t need to feed loads – a pint or two will normally be ample.

CARP PELLETS FOR CHUB
CARP PELLETS FOR CHUB

EXPLORE

The fish in heavily-pressured stretches will behave differently to those off the beaten track, which often give their location away quite readily by crashing out of the water or taking insects off the top. Walk your fancied stretch early in the morning and look for these signs to give you an indication of which pegs may be best. Remember, the busiest stretches aren’t always the best, just the most convenient.

EXPLORE
EXPLORE

TRY A LONGER FLOAT ROD

It may sound like a ruse from a tackle company after your hard-earned money, but a long float rod is a huge advantage when trotting stick or Avon floats. A 14ft/15ft model will enable you to ‘keep in touch’ with the float and allow you to work it around the swim far more efficiently than you could with an 11ft rod. Size really does matter in this instance!

TRY A LONGER FLOAT ROD
TRY A LONGER FLOAT ROD
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