GET READY FOR THE NEW RIVER SEASON!
Paul Garner reveals six species for your early hit list
Enjoy our bumper guide to the rigs, tactics, baits, and best places to head for on June 16...
WHICH species should you target on that first trip back to flowing water?
Chub and barbel are the obvious choices, but there are many other species that can equally attractive at this time of the year.
The choice is yours, but key to catching will be getting your bait and tactics right. The fish may not have seen bait for three months, but that doesn’t make them a pushover. So here is my advice on my five favourite species to target come opening day.
I suspect that opening morning will see me fishing for barbel, most likely on my local River Severn.
Rather than sit behind a pair of feeder rods (I will be doing enough of that later) it will be on with the waders and standing out in the water, fishing a float.
Okay, I won’t be fishing for whackers, or catching as many fish as I would on the feeder, but there is no more special way to start the season than running a float down a glide among weedbeds.
My bait menu will be very simple. A bait apron will be loaded with plenty of hemp and some 8mm halibut pellets. A small bait dropper will deposit a helping of bait at the head of the swim every 10 minutes, and a banded pellet will be my hookbait of choice.
Fishing with smaller baits can lead to silver fish becoming a pest, so stick to something more substantial if barbel are your target.
For many years I spent the opening of the season in search of river carp. They might not have been huge, but they were often ignored, meaning I had the fishing to myself. Carp love features such as backwaters and water lily beds.
Find these spots and the carp won’t be far away. Often you will have to create your own swim amid the dense foliage, which all adds to the sense of adventure.
Even naïve river carp will take boilies, recognising them as food from their attractive smell, but with these you could find yourself catching bream instead. I like to be as focused as possible, so I lay down a carpet of hemp and fish tigernut hookbaits over the top.
With the exception of barbel, you are unlikely to catch anything but carp on these tough baits, making them ideal if you have set your heart on a June 16 carp.
In recent years Fenland rivers have produced some fantastic rudd at the start of the season and are now a serious option for those looking for something a bit diïerent. A great tactic to locate the shoals of rudd is to drift small chunks of bread crust downstream along the outer edges of weedbeds. If the rudd are at home they will soon start to swirl at these freebies, giving away their presence.
While floating baits will catch rudd (and their upturned mouths are ideally positioned for this tactic), I find that they can be much easier to catch on a slow sinking bait presented a couple of feet below the surface.
If they are already swirling at crusts then a piece of bread flake moulded around the hook is the
ideal slow-sinking hookbait.
Expect bold bites, because these fish can easily engulf even quite large pieces of bread the size of a 50p piece.
With rivers often still carrying a little colour at this time, a net of roach is always on the cards if you set your stall out for them. It’s a little early for hemp-and-tare fishing, but I’ll always include a pint of hemp on my roach menu.
Maggots will catch plenty of fish, but if you are looking for a better stamp then casters are a wise investment. You will probably have to order them to be sure of having a supply for the start of the season, but this effort is very much worthwhile.
If a specimen river roach is your target I would try a different, more selective approach.
Fishing into dark is the time to catch the bigger fish, and bigger baits will definitely prove more selective. Try a grain of sweetcorn on the hook. While it’s little used for roach, corn has certainly proved very effective for me over the years, fished over a laid-down bed of hemp.
Get the waders on and try trotting pellets.
Tiger nuts are a selective river carp bait.
Try pellets for early-season barbel.
Slow-sinking flake is my No1 rudd bait.