Fishing on a river is something that virtually all anglers will attempt at some point throughout their lifetime, often with varying success. The thought of trying to catch a fish from a river in flood is enough to make many anglers choose the easy option and put their feet up in front of the TV. Worcestershire barbel botherer, Chris Ponsford can often be found wandering up and down his local River Severn in search of likely looking barbel swims from stretches of river that many would dismiss due to the conditions.
Choosing the right tackle for a flooded river is essential, if your feeders are not carrying enough lead they will roll off down the river. Your rods, reels and line need to be up to the job; Chris explains “I regularly use Korum Combi Feeders that weigh up to 150g/5oz and you won’t be able to cast those with your average feeder rod. A Korum 2lb Barbel Rod coupled with a Free Spool 6000 is my first choice.” Chris’ reel is loaded with 12lb Xpert Reel Line, due to the big feeders and powerful fish that inhabit the river.
He then attaches a Running Rig Kit to the reel line. “The Running Rig Kits make everything extremely simple and tangle free and onto this I have clipped a Large 75g Korum Combi Feeder.”
Chris cast’s out with an empty feeder to see if he has enough lead to hold bottom. After casting out he lets out a bow of line and places the rod on the rest. “Letting out a bow of line allows me to use much less lead in the feeder. I’m watching the rod tip to see if the feeder rolls along the bottom, if it is too light the tip will bounce” explains Chris. My hooklink is 4ft of 10lb Xpert Power Mono and a size 14 Expert Power Hook.
Big, smelly bait
Big feeders require a lot of bait! Chris explains about his recent dealings with other barbel anglers, commenting on how many complain that the fishing is poor and they aren’t catching. “Most of the time it isn’t that the fishing that’s poor and more the fact that the anglers cast out their feeder twice in a whole day! If you are going to catch fish in a flooded river, you’ve got to really give them some grub.”
Chris has mixed together half a bag of Sonubaits 50:50 Method Paste and half a bag of Hemp & Hali Crush to create a sticky groundbait mix that will plug the feeder. In a separate Bagging Bucket Chris empties a bag of 4mm Cheesy Garlic feed pellets and covers them in Hemp & Cheesy Garlic Liquid before giving them a generous sprinkling of Krill Flavour Shaker. “This stuff stinks! Since I’ve started pouring this oily liquid over my pellets, I’ve caught more fish.” reveals Chris.
My hookbait is two 8mm Halibut Pellet O's that have been soaked in Cheesy Garlic Oil. This slows the breakdown of the pellets and makes them more attractive to the fish for longer.
Laying the carpet
Laying the carpet was the term, the Worcester ace used to describe how he starts his session, introducing a large amount of feed into the swim. I cast 10 large feeders full of bait into the swim to put down a bed of groundbait and pellets, this super stinky mix should pull the fish into my area from all over the river.” An enthusiastic Pons explains
Regular casting is essential to catching lots of fish. The river will quickly wash the groundbait and pellets downstream and out of your swim, so regular casting will keep a steady flow of bait through you swim. The fish will follow this line of scent up the river, until they reach your hookbait.