Since the EU banned the use of aquatic weedkillers several years ago there’s been a proliferation in weed growth in many of the waters we fish. Many anglers feel that fishing in weed is beyond them but, in truth, it’s not something to be afraid of and, with a bit of thought, you can find ways to present your bait that will attract the fish.
When we talk about weed we usually mean the more common types such as Canadian Pondweed or Hornwort. These can spread very quickly in a water, making life difficult for the angler. However, there’s no doubt that the fish love the stuff so if you’ve got a water with weed in it it’s a fair bet that if you can fish near it you’ll be on the fish!
When you get to the lake take your time to have a look around. Can you see the weed? Is it up on the surface or hugging the bottom? Are there gaps in it to fish too or will you need to present your bait over weed that’s below the surface? These are all questions you need to ask and, once you’ve answered them, you’ll be able to choose your tactics.
One of the most popular rigs at the moment is the Chod rig. This, as the name suggests, was primarily designed for fishing over lakebeds of sticks, perhaps silkweed or bits and pieces of wood or stone/gravel, but it’s also excellent for fishing over low-lying weed. By using a Chod you can be sure that the rig will be presented in a way that the fish can see the bait. It’s not ideal in thick weed though as, unless you get the height of the Chod itself correct, it can sink below the weed. In thick weed that comes up off the lakebed a modified Chod with a long, more supple hooklink could work better, particularly if it’s topped off with a PVA nugget to ensure the bait stays up in the water.
Fishing to holes in the weed is one of the most productive ways to catch carp from weed. If you have access to a boat you could actually place the rig by hand but if this can’t be done you’ll need to cast your bait in. To ensure it settles correctly try using a PVA bag or a Method mix. By utilising these methods you can ensure that the bait it shielded from the weed and, if you use a PVA bag it should sink slowly and settle on the bottom neatly before dissolving or, if there is a light covering of weed, settle on the top. One tip here is to use a marker float. If you can get the float up through the weed it’s a fair bet you’ll be able to present a bait in it and get a fish out. If you can’t get the marker float up – fish elsewhere.
If the weed is really dense and you feel that the best way to present a bait is to punch a bait through it, a Method mix is the way to go. By making up a mix with pellets and broken boilies, then embedding the hooklink and bait right in the middle, the heavy weight will add casting distance and punch through the weed before setting on the lakebed. Very often weeds such as Canadian Pondweed and Hornwort are very dense at the surface but surprisingly sparse under the surface and this is where a Method mix will score.
Of course, there are times when the weed can be just too thick to present a bait in and don’t forget that getting the bait in is just one part of the equation. Once you’ve got a fish on the hook you’ve got to get it out, so never fish in areas that you can’t get fish out from.
Nigel Banks, September 2016.