Anglers raised on the near-sterile environments of many modern commercial fisheries can get flustered when it comes to carp fishing over weed, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Carp thrive in weedy venues, such as Croix Blanche lake in France, and although its presence does create some issues for anglers, it certainly shouldn’t scare you.
Finding a fresh clear spot in the weed is ideal
When fishing over weed, you essentially have two choices, to find a clear spot or fish into the weed. Whatever is the case at your venue, take a moment to assess the situation before deciding whether to opt for clear or weedy spots. An area that is free from weed can often mean it has been cleared by feeding carp, and it also gives you a much nicer surface on which to present a rig unhindered. However, some clear spots might have been fed on so hard that the natural food has all but disappeared, and some spots might have been fished so regularly that the carp associate them with danger. A fresh clear spot is the ideal situation here.
You can create a clear spot with regular baiting or using a castable weed rake
If you can’t find any clear spots you can always create your own. In a lake full of different species of fish, this can be quite simple if you pick the right area to begin with. Something in the margins, or easily visible from up a tree is ideal so you can monitor its progress. Regular baiting is what’s needed here, but it needn’t cost too much. Bulk particles will stick to weed stems and feeding fish will do your underwater lawnmowing for you. The other option is manual labour with a throwable or castable weed rake. The disturbance is huge, but it can often bring inquisitive carp into the area, and you will definitely unearth plenty of bugs for them to eat.
Rig presentation is crucial when fishing weedy lakes
When it comes to rig presentation, it should also be noted that although your rig might lie nicely over a clear area, surrounding weed can really hamper line lay and thus bite indication and your chances of landing a hooked fish. Away from clear areas, your other option is to bite the bullet and get in amongst the green stuff.
There are many factors to consider when taking this route, the first of which is what sort of weed you are dealing with. The worst kind is not technically a weed, but filamentous algae, which looks like candyfloss and can literally envelop a rig leaving it impossible for the fish to find.
There are many other types of weed present in our waterways of varying thicknesses and strengths. It is possible to present a hookbait over low-lying areas of the more plant-like stuff like Canadian pondweed. In fact, heavily weeded areas of this type of weed can be quite dense, allowing you to balance a lead and rig over the top with a bit of thought. Really thick areas of ‘Canadian’ can cause problems when it comes to landing fish, however.
Another thing to look out for is the freshness of the weed. In spring and summer, carp can be attracted to fresh growths of weed (and the food items they support). In the colder months, dying weed can still provide a degree of insulation for fish, so make a note of the summer’s weediest areas for use later in the year.
Lighter leads will prevent your bait from sinking into the weed
On the rig side of things, a helicopter setup can be advantageous for keeping your presentation away from the depths of the weed. Set your top bead fairly high and only the lead will be submerged in the weed. A lead clip system can be an advantage when it comes to playing fish out of the weed, and these are usually used with lighter leads.
Dissolvable foam is essential to prevent the hook from being masked
Dissolvable foam is almost essential in these scenarios. Use it to temporarily suspend your hookbait over the week before the foam melts and lets your bait flutter over the top of the weed.
Pop-ups or critically balanced bait will sit on top of the weed
Pop-ups are the natural choice of hookbait, but don’t underestimate a hungry carp’s ability to hoover up even a partially obscured bottom bait or wafter. Particles like hemp and corn stick to weed stems and provide an incentive for the fish to tear up the bottom. The same is true of halved or crushed boilies, plus groundbaits and boilie crumb.
Strong line and strong hooks will give you the best chance of landing a carp
Moving on to general tackle and your approach to angling, strong lines and beefy hooks are recommended. Hooking a carp is only half the battle in a weedy venue and the first few moments of the fight are crucial. Fish tight clutches and try to bring the fish to the surface as quickly as possible. Slow, ponderous cranks of the reel while pumping the rod up and down can really work against you – instead, if the swim allows, try walking back immediately with the fish on a tight line and your rod held high. This stops the fish from being able to bury down into the weed.
The ideal scenario is bringing the fish to the surface quickly, with a bit of weed over its head. Carp tend to give up the ghost when their eyes are covered, so don’t panic if you seem to be hauling in a lifeless ball of weed.
As with most areas of carp fishing, gaining experience is crucial. Embrace the weed, don’t fear it.