I try my best to stay away from other anglers and to avoid any angling pressure; my general rule is if I see another angler I’ll walk in the opposite direction! On the weekend, I will try and get down the river mid-afternoon and walk the banks, looking for fish or signs of fish. For instance, I am looking for any clean gravel patches that I think may have been cleaned and turned over by Barbel, looking under the margin shelf and under all the nettle beds covering the margins. The more unfishable the better. I look for anything that gives the fish cover, as this is where they will be, or where they slip into at night.
Most of the Barbel I catch have come from around a foot or so from the bank, so I am not looking far out either. I will place a few baits in the areas I fancy and keep popping back to see what turns up. On one occasion during the summer I observed that on one spot, where the gravel or sand was so fine, I could actually see where the fish had taken the bait. I had put bait out in two foot of water and after returning two hours later the bait was all gone. Upon closer inspection I could see where the bait had been sucked out the sand, and even the marks in the sand where the fish’s barbs had rubbed and left a mark. When I find these spots where the gravel has been turned over, I will slowly start baiting them up. When I return to fish these spots, whether they are shallow or deep, I make a point of trying not to look into the water at first. I stay well clear of the water, keeping all my tackle and myself a good distance from the river as I do not want to disturb the swim before I even start. Stealth is key.
I cannot stress how important it is to keep any disturbance down to a minimum. I set my rod up, getting bank-sticks and rigs ready with bait on and Gardner PVA mesh bag attached whilst sat well back from the bank, and only then when I am totally ready, I slowly move into position.