The River Trent in a raging flood

With the shocking river conditions we are experiencing at the moment with widespread floods everywhere we posed a question to top Barbel angler Pat Gillett…

Question:  After all of these massive floods we have seen this past week with it being impossible to get near the natural banks of the rivers what would your approach be once it is possible to get back on the banks?
Would you be looking for areas in the flow, on the crease or out of the main flow?
Similarly do you think the make up of the bottom is important? Are you happy fishing over mud/silt or do you prefer harder gravel and stone?

Pat replied: The most important thing for me is the flow and the nature of the swim, whilst flood water fishing. If the water temperature is high enough then the extra water will really get the barbel on the move and on the feed.

With this in mind there are two approaches I believe that are best to employ. The first one is to spend your session in just the one swim (knowing that the fish are on the feed and will probably come to you). This is a method I tend to employ at

This seems to be becoming a familiar scene

this of year, when the feeding spells can be small, therefore I won’t miss the feeding spell by being on the move. For this static approach I will want to fish just into the flow, with preferably a backwater or tree / bush on the inside, which makes presentation so much easier.

Pat with a superb flood water capture

The other approach can be to fish lots of swims but not stopping in any for more than 30 minutes unless you get some action.

As for the make up of the bottom, I really don’t think it matters, it is more about presenting a bait where the barbel feel comfortable. Some of the biggest flood water barbel caught off the Lower Severn (for example) were caught over area’s that were flooded grass fields.

The problem with this latest flood is that it is going to coincide with a severe drop in temperature. In my experience high river levels and sharply falling temperatures are the worst conditions for barbel. If the weather was mild, I would be off like a shot, has very often the biggest fish are caught in the high water conditions.

I have rambled on a bit (if we can’t get out fishing, next best thing is talking about it), but I hope this helps.



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