Dave Harrell How to keep catching on low, clear rivers this autumn
Autumn is here and good catches are possible with the right approaches!
EVERYWHERE I’ve fished over the past few weeks I’ve noticed that the rivers have been running clear.
On some, I’ve been able to see the bottom 4ft or 5ft down, and this has meant having to think very carefully about approaches.
Big feeders have generally been a waste of time – fish have just been backing off them. Floatfishing has been much more productive on the venues I’ve been going to, so this week we’re looking at ways to put more fish in your net now autumn has arrived. The air temperature is still up and it’s a great time to get out on the rivers.
FISH FINE FOR ROACH
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve scaled down to a light hooklength and started to catch roach when a thicker hooklength was totally ignored. Most of my running line autumn fishing for roach is done with 0.14mm or 0.16mm mainlines and 0.08mm to 0.10mm hooklengths. These are typically tied to size 20 or 18 Drennan Carbon Match hooks.
FEED THEN CAST
Get into the habit of feeding then casting, rather than doing it the other way round. You’ll fool far more fish into taking your hookbait this way as they dart into the loosefeed where your hookbait is up for grabs!
USE SMALLER HOOKS
Where big chub and barbel are likely, it’s silly going too light on the hooklength, but smaller than usual hooks are often worth trying. A good strong pattern in the smaller sizes is the Drennan Carbon Feeder, which I use on the float as well as for static baits.
It’s possible to land big fish on relatively light lines as long as the rod is soft enough.
In clear water, you need the hookbait to go down the swim as naturally as possible and this usually means very light shotting down the line, especially for waggler fishing.
On the waggler, use a No8 shot for every 2ft of depth, so for a 6ft deep swim, use three No8s.
MORE HEMP, LESS MAGGOT
This ploy has caught me loads of fish over the years in situations where continually feeding with just maggots would have eventually overfed the swim.
For some reason, you can keep feeding hemp and the fish stay interested – but don’t overfeed.
DOT THE FLOAT DOWN
A dotted-down insert waggler will show more bites from silverfish than a thick peacock or balsa float. Early in a session, keep adding No8 shot until the float shows as a mere dimple. As long as you can see it all the way down the swim this will result in loads more bites successfully converted into fish.
TRY HEMP AND TARES
It’s a great time for tares, with hemp as feed. Keep a steady trickle of tares going in all session but feed mainly hemp. Half-a-pint of tares is ample for a long session.
FEED TO FISH DOWNSTREAM
When the river is clear, I try to feed the swim so that fish are 10m-30 metres downstream from me, or they will spook too easily.
Breadflake is a great bait for chub. To use it, just rip a small piece from a slice and pinch it around a size 8 hook. The bread will soon soften in the water, making it easy to strike through once a fish pulls the float under!
“Get into the habit of feeding, then casting, rather than the other way around”
The float will catch you more on clear rivers.
Chub are suckers for a big lump of breadflake.
Hemp (top) and tares: Great for roach.