Tackling the Weed!
It is now the height of spring and the lakes are certainly looking their prettiest, with trees in full bloom, weed to the surface in places and fish in their active summer state after spawning. With summer certainly comes demands and at times, the intense heat can make it almost seem lifeless. This month we catch up with Harry Waye Barker over on his Norfolk water, Taverham Mill, located just outside of Norwich. With the fish having spawned only a couple of weeks ago, the fishing has been tricky of late, as with most venues during the heat of the spring/ summer.
It is around mid-afternoon by the time we arrive over in East Anglia and with the sun blazing down, it is certainly nice to feel the welcoming breeze and shade from the mature trees at Taverham Mill Lake. The lake itself is a mature gravel pit, dating back to pre- war times, with every possible feature you could want from a carp lake, including lily beds, weed, gravel bars, islands and snags; it really is a carp haven. With so many attractive spots and swims come many options and the lake itself boasts two large bays and a central area of open water to go at. So initially, we wanted to quiz harry on his choice of swim for the night ahead…
“There are a lot of options on this lake and to be honest, it can be overwhelming with so many spots where you think you would get a bite. I try to look at the lake as a plain canvas and work hard initially to find the fish then make a decision based on that. There are two large bays on the Mills lake, divided by a large split, with one side being deeper than the other.
As of late, the fish have been held up in the deeper water, but from our walk around earlier, it has become apparent more fish are moving into this shallower area. I have come down to the far end of the bay in the hope that through the afternoon and evening, a few more fish drift down this way, where I will already have my baits and rigs in place ready to go”.
From what we can see in this swim, there is a lot of weed and lilies spread out, so how have you gone about finding your spots that you will fish this evening…
“A lot of anglers out there will use a marker rod and sometimes a float to find features out in the lake, but I prefer to use the rods that I am actually going to fish with. First of all, this lake is incredibly weedy, with low- lying weed and weed in places up to the surface, so it certainly takes a bit of time to find a spot that you are happy with. I like to use my standard fishing rods for leading around, these are spooled up with monofilament as opposed to braid what many would use for feature finding.
I know that the spots present out there are very small and in places, non-existent; which is why I simply feel for a good drop as opposed to thrashing the water up to find the cleanest spot possible. When I have got that ‘drop’ with my fishing rods, I know that I will no doubt be fishing effectively, as monofilament contains a degree of stretch and therefore softens the drop you receive. Once I am happy, I simply place the line under the clip and then get it wrapped and baited ready to go out”.
What you mentioned does make sense, as you often mark up with a lead on a braided rod, only to cast a lead on your standard fishing rods thinking you’ve missed the spot with a softer drop. I guess this style of fishing means you are less particular when it comes to baiting accurately too then…
“I think you have to be accurate to a certain degree, obviously you want to bait within close vicinity to the rod. For much of my weed fishing though, I do opt for a catapult and chose to spray the baits across the area, as opposed to spombing them out onto a clear spot. Depending on what the weed on the lakebed is like, I am happy to spread the boilies a few rods lengths either side of the baited rig, encouraging fish to move and graze in an area, moving and dropping down to feed between individual baits.
I guess fishing in this style also lends itself perfectly to my rig of choice, the hinge rig, utilising a buoyant pop- up on a fairly long pop- up section of stiffer material. When using this type of ‘spreading’ approach, I feel you using a longer link and higher pop- up is more effective, as the fish are dropping down when feeding on the baits and then moving on before eating another. The hinge rig, with a well- exposed hook and extra buoyant pop- up means that there is no way it can become hindered by the low- lying weed”.
As we settle back and watch Harry prepare his rods for the evening ahead, the peace and atmosphere of the incredible Mills lake begins to set in. Harry has all three of his rods clipped to three different areas, one to a large lily bed, another to a small cove and the right hander is placed up against a marginal shelf. We were eager to find out how Harry tackles up on weedy venues…
“Strength is everything when it comes to tackling a weedy water, you simply cannot fine down or take half chances, which is why I use heavy components right down from my mainline to hooks themselves. One major aspect for me is using a high-quality monofilament, one that sinks well but is equally also very abrasion resistant. With so much weed present, I also pay close attention to my line lay, as with this swim there is a lot of weed present from the tip out to the spot. When fishing like this, I like to sink my line from the lead end first, lifting the rod high and allowing the mainline to sink under its own weight, as opposed to dipping the tip and sinking it that way. This is because I want to ensure those last few meters behind the lead are well sunk, before clipping on a light bobbin”.
We watch Harry make a few casts to each spot, before he settles and baits up for the night ahead…
“With it being a shallow lake, I always try and leave my baiting up until the evening, as there is much less risk of the water birds spotting the bait and diving on it. I want to be sitting confident knowing I am fishing my baits among a decent spread; certainly not lots of bait, but a small spread of highly attractive baits, just enough to gains the passing carps interest. You may have also noticed that on each cast, I wound in a small amount of weed known as silkweed; this stuff is neigh on impossible to avoid, but is easy to present over as it lays flat on the lakebed”.
As the night comes around, we light up the BBQ and sit back watching the water. As if by magic, the lake comes alive with showing fish, bubbling and ripples as far as the eye can see; it certainly looks good for a night time bite!
“One very important aspect to point out is the way that you set your rods when fishing weedy waters, because the last thing you want is for a fish to take you through weedbed after weedbed on the initial take. I ensure that I fish with my drag set to semi- tight; which basically means a fish can only take line under a lot of pressure which helps to slow them down and prevent them getting into the weed. When fishing like this, it is important to have your back rests on lockdown and some suitable snag ears at the alarm end to ensure the rod does not end up in the lake”.
By the following morning, Harry has managed to land a chunk of a common, just on first light from his middle rod…
“It was a twitchy bite, but I was straight on the rod, steering it away from the pads before netting it shortly after. On weedy venues, bite time is usually around that first light period as the oxygen levels can be much lower during the hours of darkness. You will often find that the spots located close to the weed beds fish well during the daylight and the carp will move out into open water in the hours of darkness. This is certainly worth bearing in mind when you are planning your session, be that a day trip or overnighter between work”.
On the mat the fish looked incredible, a typical stamp of the carp that are present in the mills; dark and full of character. After rattling off a couple of photos we get the nice fish back before packing up and hitting the road. These weedy waters can no doubt be challenging but with a little thought and a few pointers, they can be much more approachable than you first thought.