At this time of year it can be very challenging doing any type of fishing, especially lure fishing with the winter floods, temperatures and wind directions changing by the day. I think if I were to only fish when the conditions were text book perfect I would probably only fish a few times a year!
I love predator fishing and especially lure fishing and recently I have been enjoying fishing the rivers on my own and not seeing another angler all day. The reason I've not seen another angler is the conditions are what most people would describe as awful, flooded, a couple of inches clarity and pushing through, most anglers would probably say you would never catch fish in those conditions - especially on lures.
If you think about it logically where would the fish be? They wouldn't be wasting energy in a flooded river by sitting out in the middle, in fact they will be trying to use as little energy as possible, but they will still be looking for an easy meal. Predators are hunters, their eyesight is better than their preys, they prefer to ambush than chase, they use light levels to their advantage and will often feed at first and last light.
A flooded coloured river at this time of year can often be perfect conditions for predators like pike and perch to feed quite hard while the water is still fairly warm and they will use the poor visibility to their advantage. I like to use fairly bright lures and also spikey shads due to their unique design I know that the lure has been heard and seen! I tend to go for slightly bigger lures in coloured water because I want the lure to be fairly big and bold, but still small enough to catch smaller perch - it always amazes me how a small perch can engulf a big lure!
We don't have Zander in the rivers I fish but the Zander pro lures are great, I use them in 7.5cm/3" in length. I will use Lemon Tiger, Red Head, Salt N Pepper and Gold Glitter in flood conditions as these seem to stand out well, but sometimes a natural pattern with silver in works well.
I also use the loaded mini fry in bright colours, as they are so easy to use and have a fantastic action. They are pre-rigged with 5g jig heads and it's just a case of tying it on to the leader or clipping it to a trace if there are pike present. I use the Fox illusion fluorocarbon in trans khaki in 10lb as it knots great and is very abrasion resistance.
The perch are fairly easy to find in flood conditions and I tend to look for trees that are half in the water causing a slack behind them, behind bridge supports, small side streams and inlets or the inside of a bend, anywhere where there is some slightly slacker water.
The retrieve of the lure I find works best is a very slow retrieve so the lure is always about a foot off the bottom, I will quite often do a few straight retrieves and fan cast the slack water then do the same with a different colour lure and put a few pauses in the retrieve, the takes range from little plucks on the rod tip to full on wrap rounds! I found it very important to not bring the lure out of the water to quickly as the fish will follow right to the surface so having the drag set correctly is very important.
One of the great things about coloured water fishing is that you don't spook the shoal of fish as much due to the lack of clarity which means you can quite often get several good fish from one swim. I also find that I spend quite a bit longer in one swim especially if the clarity is really bad as you have to put the lure right on their noses. It's important to stay positive and remember that the fish are there you just have to make little changes in your techniques and cover as many slacks of water as possible.
I use Torque braid in 15lb which may sound quite heavy for perch fishing but it can sometimes be hit and hold fishing next to snags and features and the last thing you want is to loose a good fish. The Ultron 2 ultralight has been my rod of choice and is more than capable of landing any fish I hook from small perch to the occasional rogue pike.
When your local river is in flood next pop down for a couple of hours and you may be surprised at your results...