The Meteorological Office tell us April and June were the wettest months on record and July looks, at least so far, to be following suit. Flooding has been wide spread. Checking out the forum boards, and talking to shore anglers all over the country, catches for many have been well below par as a result. It has been a tough summer!
The amount of rain coming down through the river systems in to the estuaries has been incredible. But in the UK much of this rainfall is acidic and looks like tea in the water. I learnt as a youngster this drives the bulk of the fish out of the smaller estuaries, or at least out in to the deeper channels in the bigger estuaries, and even well out to sea when flooding is sustained to where conditions are more conducive. This has been the case in many areas over the past few weeks, especially on the west facing coast of the UK.
If you’re new to these conditions, then its best to avoid the estuaries, or at least check the colour and clarity of the water you’ll be fishing. If you watch the flooding tide you’ll often see the brown acidic water line clearly defined. When this is pushed backwards up the estuary, fishing in to the clear fresh seawater flooding in can yield a few fish, such as bass and flounder, who will feed literally on the front edge of the clear untainted water as it travels inwards. This might mean only fishing for a couple of hours either side of high water when the acidic water has been pushed well back. Once the ebb tide starts, the dirty water quickly returns and the fish move back out rapidly.
I was watching mullet working up through an estuary creek recently adjacent to a crease of dirty brown water and clear seawater. The mullet swam the edge of the dirty water feeding as they went, but never ventured in to it. Also as the tide height increased the mullet moved only in to creeks carrying no freshwater runoff. They stayed out of the creeks carrying running flood water coming down the dykes from the mountains.
It’s important to also think about your position on an open beach. If the beach has a stream or small river running on to it, then always fish on the uptide side of the river outflow. This puts you in to fresh, clean seawater with the acidic water pushed well downtide of you. Again this gives you a chance of fish moving in with the clean water to feed.
Don’t get confused with normal freshwater streams coming on to beaches. In hot, warm conditions and in shallow water, these actually attract bass and flounder right in to the outflow as this exposes food and drops the temperature of the surrounding seawater. It’s when the streams are in flood after heavy rain that the acidity rises and makes for uncomfortable conditions for nearby fish.
The same applies to beaches that have estuaries at one end. If you can find high ground, you’ll see the brown acidic water line pushing well offshore. Get as far away from the estuary as you can and always fish a beach uptide of the estuary during both flood and ebb tide. This tends to be where the bulk of the fish will feed.
Bait supplies are also affected by acidic water. The crabs stop peeling in numbers and can become hard to find inside estuaries. Sandeel numbers drop too, as these tend to push out in to areas where the acidity is lessened. This also means the available food supply is limited further restricting the numbers of fish likely to be in front of you. It will take a few tides after the acidic water has disappeared for food stocks to build back up again, so again this is something to remember when choosing marks to fish in estuaries after recent heavy rain.
As I write this blog, there’s no real sign of a change for the better in the weather, so bear this acidic water in mind and try and choose areas to fish well away from any outflowing flood water and you’ll stand a much better chance of picking up a few fish.