No Spot, No Problem….
Summertime certainly throws up a few problems for the discerning carp angler; spawning fish, relentless heat, long motionless days and above all else, uncontrollable weed growth. If you haven’t fished in the stuff or experienced the dreaded disadvantages the green stuff throws at you, then you certainly are not missing out. For many of us out there though, it is one of those regularities that we have to face when targeting a venue and at certain times, especially those summer months, it can become a constant battle to say the least. Thankfully, heavy weed growth certainly isn’t the be all and end all, as young carper Dan Handley shows us, having experienced and fished waters with heavy weed growth to great success over the years. The fundamentals of effective weed fishing come from the tactical approach and having the ability to understand and adapt to different types of weed in order to maintain an effective presentation. This mini- feature outlines some of the important fundamentals that I apply to overcome the dreaded green stuff.
First and foremost, having the ability to understand the type of weed you are fishing over is vital. Why, because this will have a major influence on your presentation and your ability to present effectively or not. The best way of gaining an understanding as to what type of weed is present in your swim or close by is through leading around and for this, I use a braided mainline and a small, 2/3oz pear style lead.
At this point, there is certainly no advantage in using a marker float, in fact, when looking for a spot to present on, a marker float can hinder this. I simply use a lead attached directly to my braided mainline, casting it around the swim and feeling for a ‘drop’. When retrieving the lead, it pays to use the lift and drop method, as opposed to dragging the lead across the lakebed.
There are usually a few different types of weed present in a lake, all offering their own obstacles, but in general, I like to split these up into two different categories: low- lying lake bed weed and column weed, weed that grows up off the lakebed and through the water column and in some extreme circumstances, to the surface.
No fish love all types of weed and you will never go too far wrong if you find a good weedbed out in the pond, as I would certainly say that at some point during your visit, the fish will be in and around these areas. Although, not all types of weed lend themselves to fishing among and I have always been one to avoid the ‘column’ weed such as Canadian, as it can detrimentally affect your presentation.
Instead, I am looking for an area of low- lying weed such as silk- weed so that I can rest assure the spot/ area I am fishing is flat and presentable over. Silk- weed can look think to the naked eye, especially when winding it in on your rig, but in fact, it lays flush to the lakebed, almost like a carpet of weed. If I can achieve a firm ‘drop’ and when retrieving the lead, silk- weed is present, I can rest assure my presentation is perfect.
Weed, in the same way that flowers do, carry out the natural process of photosynthesis, whereby they give off oxygen in the day, but release carbon dioxide during the hours of darkness. You will often find that weedy venues fish very poor during the nights and then well during the early mornings and days. One thing to bear in mind when fishing ‘overnighters’ is to fish ‘off’ the denser weed beds, as fish will often vacate these areas on dark for a good feed- up, whereas during those longer daylight hours, these weed beds can be very effective when fished up close to.
When targeting areas of silkweed, I have found that whole and halved baits are the most effective when it comes to gaining a great ‘baiting presentation’. I use the throwing stick to create a nice spread of baits, encouraging the carp to graze in an area and move between mouthfuls of bait. With a larger surface area, the whole baits come to settled on top of the dense silk- weed, ensuring they are within sight and reach of the carp when they decide to have a feed. I aim to spread the boilies over the area roughly the size of a tennis court and then have three rods positioned central and on the outer edges of the baited area. I also like to use a natural/ fishmeal type bait when weed fishing, one that washes out nicely adding the visual attraction, such as the Odyssey XXX.
I always carry a miniature, castable weed rake, perfect for clearing small spots among the weed. If you are happy to spend a few hours clearing and spot free of any weed and debris, it can certainly be a worthwhile move. What I would say is that where possible, it will pay to do this in advance of your session, baiting it and ensuring it is primed ready for when you turn up days later. This process can cause a lot of disturbance and is also time consuming, so bear that in mind especially when fishing short sessions.
The Heli/ Chod arrangement
The helicopter/ chod arrangement, in my opinion, is by far the best tactic in terms of end tackle when it comes to tackling weed. Even silk- weed will vary in depth on the lakebed, but by using this arrangement, you can rest assure that your rig will fly back up your leader and settle on top of the weed surrounding the lead. In many cases, the lead itself will actually plug into the weed, increasing the hooking effectiveness of the rig. I will always try to judge the depth of the weed and alter the top bead accordingly.
If there are simply very few or safe clear areas to fish, simply turn your attentions to the margins. Many margins will have clearings present and if not, these can soon be established through the introduction of bait. Get up trees and use your polaroids to spot those naturally polished spots and if all else fails, focus on catching them out of the edges.
When the weed comes right up in places, it can often be a great tell-tale sign of where the fish patrol and move about the lake. By getting a vantage point from high banks and trees, you will be able to see channels between weed beds and through weedy areas. These patrol routes, where presentable are fantastic areas to intercept moving carp, simply by setting small traps and fishing strong, reliable tackle. You may also notice that fish use certain routes at different times of the day, and this will allow you to set traps in advance of fish moving by.
These are a few of the most important tips I have when it comes to fishing a venue that is particularly weedy, and in some cases, do not offer any ‘firm’ spots to present. The weed can be quite daunting to begin with, but once you have learnt the different types of weed and caught over areas you have found and presented, your confidence will rise in next to no time. Good Luck!