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Fishing A River After A Flood

Published: 17th March 2020 | Author: Phillippa Hake

It’s safe to say that it has been a rather wet and miserable grayling season for all anglers in the U.K. If you’re like me and can only fish on the weekends, it’s a given that come Thursday & Friday the heavens will open and put the river out of action for the weekend! I think many river anglers have found themself in this situation over the last few months, very frustrating!

In the last few weeks, the U.K. has been hammered by storm Ciara and storm Dennis. They both brought torrential rain, raging rivers and howling winds. My home town of Sowerby Bridge in the Calder Valley was devastated by some horrendous flooding for the second time since the boxing day floods back in 2015. Many homes and businesses have been ruined, leaving behind a huge clear up. I will be eager to get back on the river and see what affects its had and on its fishy residents.

A new gravel bar appeared after recent floods on a river – be careful of loose rock and gravel patches!

This brings me to my topic for this blog. What affects does a big flood have on a river and how would you approach it to fish? Well, there are many effect floods can have, but the most serious of all is the environmental side of things which can be devastating. For a starter, the most noticeable thing is the sheer amount of rubbish the river picks up on its way, which is soon visible on the banks of the river and trees once the levels gradually lower. There’s the risk of sewerage entering into the river system too, which can have a catastrophic effect if it’s untreated, leading to pollution of the river which fish and other animals may not survive.

Safety first

Before stepping into a recently flooded river, you must ensure it’s safe to do so. Is the water coloured? Is the water pushing hard? Ensure the river is accessible without putting your self in danger and make sure you have a life vest on. Carrying a wading stick to help you wade is useful, too.

Where to find fish after a flood?

From a fishing perspective, looking on at a fierce torrent you’d begin to wonder how fish survive a big flood? Surprisingly, fish will find shelter where-ever they can, behind rocks and in the slower glides away from the strong currents. Often when the river starts to drop the fishing can be absolutely insane – trout and grayling will turn up in any slack, so don’t rush into the water and fish any slight crease thoroughly. Fish will tuck up under lose banking and any other bankside structures.

Recommended river flies

Approaching the river I would set up with heavier than normal flies. Size 10 and 12 nymphs accompanied with 3.8 – 4.6mm tungsten beads that have a lot of colour are favoured, with hotspots of pink and orange being my most effective.

View our range of tactical river flies, perfect for any situation.

You could open the door and try a squirmy worm; controversial but they work! It would be worth carrying a few black streamer patterns too – pulling a streamer on a sink tip can provoke takes, if the water is high, this method will also allow you to cover more water with ease. A jig style streamer can also be very effective if used as your anchor fly on a euro nymphing set up.

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