When a river goes into flood, it’s not always the end of the world! Especially when targeting roach. A flash flood will definitely put the fish off the feed for a while, but if the flood continues and remains constant, it’s not long until they re-group and get their heads down again. The problem is how to go about catching them under these difficult conditions.
Fishing the feeder is probably the best chance of success, and in these conditions, you really need to nail it to the river bed. Step up the feeder weight until it remains where it settles. This can be done with heavier feeders or by adding extra clip-on weights until you get it right.
It is also important to keep as much of the main-line out of the water as possible to reduce drag. This is done by fishing as close as possible to the near bank, within reason, and keeping the rod tip high. Tighten to the feeder putting a fair bend in the quiver-tip, and wait for a dramatic rod-pull or drop-back bite. It also helps to keep the hook-link quite short. Under these conditions, most roach and hybrids will hook themselves, almost like a bolt-rig.
Under these conditions, usually mid-winter, it is also important not to over-feed the swim. To control this, only add particle baits to the feeder with each cast, and not by mixing a set amount into the ground-bait at the start. This will let you fine-tune the swim as you go, feeling your way through the session, so to speak. You can get a feel of how the swim is responding, and add or deduct the amount of particles to be introduced on each cast.
Usually, it is possible to get away with a larger hook when the river is in flood. This will help with hook-ups, and give a better than average chance of landing a larger hybrid in the strong pull of the flooded conditions. It rarely affects bite ratios. Don’t neglect caster or double caster and maggot as hook-bait. Caster can often sort out the larger fish.
So there you have it. When the rain persists, and the rivers rise, it isn’t always doom and gloom. Sometimes there’s a great bag of fish waiting for those willing to brave the elements through the bleak winter months.