My favourite au­tumn tac­tics

Fish­ing in flood

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Au­tumn can be a bril­liant time for catch­ing barbel, but can also prove to be very dif­fi­cult.

It all de­pends on river con­di­tions. A flush of wa­ter from a good down­fall of rain will clear out all of the dead weed and de­bris, stim­u­lat­ing the barbel into a pre-win­ter feed­ing spree. This is when large, smelly baits such as lun­cheon meat, fish­meal-based boilies and pastes will come into their own.

I tend to try to use some­thing dif­fer­ent from the crowd at this time of year, home­made baits that the barbel are not used to. When they have been in­un­dated all sea­son with pel­lets and shop­bought boilies, a change of bait can give you an edge, or even just con­fi­dence – some­thing that’s as vi­tal as any bait in­gre­di­ent!

Drift­ing de­bris and weed can make fish­ing in high wa­ter tricky, so do not be scared to use heav­ier leads or feed­ers than nor­mal, along with a heavy back­lead if you are fish­ing in close. I will use a 4 oz lead and 2 oz semi-fixed back­lead more of­ten than not. Up­ping those weights may be nec­es­sary to hold out for 30 min­utes or so, enough time for a barbel to de­tect your bait and chomp it. Be pre­pared to be mo­bile and move around if no bites are forth­com­ing. After an hour or so in such con­di­tions, a take is likely first or sec­ond cast.

Fish­ing un­der the bank will help you avoid de­bris, and fish are likely to ven­ture closer in coloured flood wa­ter.

Cold and clear con­di­tions

Some­times rivers in au­tumn will be low, clear and cold. They can look seem­ingly life­less and be full of dark, de­com­pos­ing weed and leaves. Barbel are not easy to catch un­der th­ese con­di­tions, but will fall more read­ily to a par­ti­cle ap­proach, when mag­gots and the deadly hemp-and-caster com­bi­na­tion can prove very suc­cess­ful.

Choose your swim care­fully, look­ing for a strong, steady flow and a clean bot­tom, but go for a longer hook link than nor­mal and feed reg­u­larly, in­tro­duc­ing bait with a bait­drop­per.

Three mag­gots su­per­glued to a hair on a strong, size 12 hook is my favourite way to present a bait in th­ese con­di­tions, and I like to use a braided hook link, either em­ploy­ing a coated braid or a com­bi­na­tion rig of stiff ny­lon and a short, braid link to the hook. Pin the last few inches down with a link­ing swivel or a bit of heavy putty.

I use a big block-end feeder when us­ing both mag­gots and cast­ers, to in­tro­duce feed and en­able ac­cu­rate cast­ing. Smelly baits are best when rivers are coloured, of­ten fol­low­ing floods. Here are a se­lec­tion of my favourites, in­clud­ing two pel­lets glued on a hair.

■ When the rivers are in flood, barbel start to feed, and some good catches can be made. On this oc­ca­sion, the Hamp­shire Avon burst its banks.

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