Tuesday, 17 January 2023

Floodwater Fishing.


 Given the recent wet winters that we are all enduring fishing can often be very rewarding at these times. Risks are obviously greater and when fishing in these conditions the level of preparedness needs to be greater. No fish is worth risking a life but if you do fish in these conditions or plan to fish in these conditions whether a seasoned angler or new to the river fishing side of the discipline here are a few handy pointers that I use during my fishing, some are more common sense, others some anglers may not use/do.

 Planning stage: 

 The great thing with the internet is that it is a hive of information, you can access social media on certain groups where you can ask other like minded people what current conditions look like or if you have an idea as to exactly where you are going you can download apps on your smartphone ( like the RiversApp for example) or log on to either www.riverlevels.uk or www.check-for-flooding.service.gov.uk these are accurate and updated fairly regularly. This sort of information should give you a good idea on what you could be faced with.

 Weather patterns: 

 Knowing the season and how quickly things can change get weather forecasts for the time leading up to your visit from about 3 different outlets that are independent of each other, especially if you are making a long journey (as I do quite often), the shorter the time between searching and embarking the better as conditions are usually very changeable given our geographical location, a slight change in wind direction can bring a whole host of changes which could impact the river levels/conditions.

 What to take:

 Preparation at this stage is very important, now this may sound a bit over the top but floodwater conditions can take lives when the correct approaches aren't taken and mother nature can play her cruel hand. 

 Spare changes of warm clothing, phone charger/battery back-up, hot drinks in flasks should you feel the need, dog spike and decent sized rope if entering steep pegs where access is suspect at best (I would steer clear of these anyway in dicey conditions) and as said above, this may sound over the top, but tell someone where and when you are going, the mrs, a friend you speak to often, or kids if yours are old enough to have that conversation with.

 Incase of emergencies:

 Again this may seem over the top but just a bit of further preparation, download "what3words" available on all platforms, should you need it, it will direct emergency services to your precise location should you be impaired in any way, either you've fallen in and suffering from the cold, tripped and broken something or been caught out by fast rising waters and now found yourself in serious trouble.

 For example the "what3words" for the bridge at the entrance of the Royalty Fishery on the Hants Avon is: "hopes.family.cases" this quoted to the emergency services will get them to your location, it can be an important tool should you feel the need to fish in such conditions.

App store / Android / Google Play store or online.

 Once on the banks: 

 I would never recommend attempting to fish if you are not familiar with the river in A: normal conditions and B: flood conditions, knowing the river is important to fishing it safely. Look for vegetation along banks, typically trees will also line the margins on both sides so that would be a good indication as to where the true watercourse begins. 

 Always use a staff (I use either a storm pole fully extended to around 7ft or my landing net handle extended to feel around in front of you, this is just in case there are non-visible obstructs under the usually murky floodwater, tripping over a stone or log etc can spell the end of your visit before you've cast out a bait. 

 Always plan your escape route: 

 If fishing in high water that isn't dropping or rains are predicted during your visit or the affects of recent rains yet to take affect do two things. First of all make a point of reference ( a big distinctive tree or an electricity pylon or building ) well above ground as to where you have come from ie: car park, lay-by etc so if levels were to rise you could still find your vehicle exit point. Secondly take a long bank-stick with you and have electrical tape markers every couple of inches or tip-ex, this is to go into the ground and take note of what marker its on, then keep an eye on this to see if there is a rapid rise, rise, no change or a falling river level. If levels are rising it would be wise if it is already touch and go to bail out and pick another day, it isn't worth it. In relation to this also if you have good internet signal pop on to the above listed websites to check the recently updated information to back up your findings. 

 Enjoy the experience:

 Some would read this and think, just don't go! If you are experienced enough and take all the precautions you can and don't take it for granted catching the river as its falling can often be a very productive time to target fish, especially Barbel. Warm rains from the SW, falling river levels with mild air temps are arguably the best time to fish for the species. Now navigating yourself to the river may be the hardest part sometimes but always make sure when fishing individual spots you put that marker at a point that you can read (river level markers) but also positioned in such a way that it is your further point forward in that peg and you don't go past that, but also in a position you can retrieve it when it isn't required anymore.

 If this helps one person then this will have had its desired affect, I think three anglers lost their lives last winter and three families totally destroyed by something they could have avoided. Enjoy your fishing but respect mother nature, she can be cruel and if in any doubt, don't go, no fish is worth a life. 

5am on a flooded R.Loddon.


  1. Great advice James, Thanks.

    1. If it helps just one person. I think when floodwater fishing the dangers present can be often ignored, always good just to take stock.

  2. Replies
    1. :) yeah that's not something you want to experience!


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