I love all types of carp angling, the sport is so diverse, but I especially like the lakes that are generally over-looked because they are low stocked, with an unknown quantity of carp and difficult to fish due to topography and lake bed make up; for example weed and deep silt! Also getting to swims can be an issue for some anglers, but this is an advantage for me.
Most people these days seem to want to know exactly what they are fishing for in angler-friendly swims with an angler friendly stock. Difficult, low-stocked, silty, weedy and generally a pain in the ass to get to and I’m in angling heaven, because I know that most anglers won’t be interested in this type of angling. I call it the jungle!
I have nothing against driving to a swim, unloading and setting up, or chasing target fish, as I do this myself. I just prefer the aforementioned! I think it holds more mystery and anticipation, which is why I started carp fishing in the first place. I find it more exciting and rewarding. I thought I’d write a short article on how I tackle this type of lake, the one’s that really make you think about what you’re doing with the deep smelly silt and plenty of weed to contend with.
Confidence is a major factor when it comes to taking on waters like this, more so than the usual normal fishing because in your mind you know the silt is deep, you know it’s weedy and you know there is a low stock, so therefore everything has to be perfect. I’ve heard anglers say “that’ll do” many times, but the truth of the matter is it won’t. The odd take will obviously occur, but over time that sort of attitude will cost an angler photos album! This applies to choosing a swim as much as rig placement or anything else. With my time being so limited these days I apply the utmost care when it comes to everything I do. I need to be 100% in my own mind (anyone that knows me knows I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to doing it my way). If you go at it half-hearted what’s the point? Do everything the best you possibly can, putting as much effort in as you can and that way your confidence will rocket and by not leaving things to chance, you will ultimately put more carp in the net!
Now that confidence is high it needs to stay that way, so knowing the make-up of the lake is vital. There is no point in slinging a bait into an area the fish don’t frequent at certain times of the year or on particular weather conditions, so learning how the lake lives and breathes will definitely stand you in good stead. If you can, walk the lake as much as possible to get a feel for the place. This obviously counts for all lakes, but it’s especially important on larger, low stocked lakes. On one particular lake I fish the carp could be several miles away, so watercraft and knowing a venue to locate the carp is paramount. This all adds confidence.
When it comes to tackle, strong and safe is the name of the game. Don’t compromise on tackle. When all the hard work comes together only to hook a fish, to lose it because the tackle isn’t up to the job is soul destroying. What I go for on lakes as described is a helicopter setup, which will allow the lead to penetrate the silt and/or weed, while allowing the hooklink and hookbait to sit above it. I imagine you’re all now expecting me to describe a chod rig, but not on this occasion! A chod rig is a favourite of mine during the winter and early spring, but when the weed is up I like to fish a fairly tight line with the tips up. This combats my line sinking into marginal weed and allows a take to register on the alarms far more quickly than fishing a slack line and then finding a carp sitting halfway through a massive weed bed after a couple of bleeps!
Thanks to Gardner Tackles Drop Out Chod Safety Clips, a safe helicopter set up with a drop off lead can be used to great effect in this situation. They give the added bonus of allowing a helicopter rig to be used with a drop off lead without faffing around trying to achieve the same thing a different way. I set mine up on a three-foot length of 25lb Mirage Fluorocarbon and I use a Covert Hook Stop at the top of the setup. The depth of the silt determines how high I set the stop; for example, if I’m fishing in 12 inches of silt I’d set the stopper at around 14 inches. These are ideal for close-in work but will move on the cast if fishing at distance so a different stopper would be needed in that situation. Under the hook bead stopper I use a soft rubber Covert Safety Bead followed by a size 12 Kwik Lok swivel (ideal for changing hooklinks quickly). A XL Covert Buffer Bead is used under the swivel to protect the knot and give protection to the Covert Q-Ring, the Drop Out Chod Safety Clip and the lead. The lead I use is the lightest I can get away with because a 2oz lead in a foot of silt acts much heavier and for added confidence I use the Gardner Chod variety. My hooklink would be a little longer than usual again to add confidence and know the hook bait is sitting in the correct position. In this instance I’d go for a soft coated hook link such as Gardner Chod Skin or Sink Skin. These materials can be knotless knotted straight through to a Continental Mugga hook incorporating one of the new Covert Pop up Hook Aligners. It is as simple but as effective as rigs get. Split the hooklink at the desired point to reveal the softer section in which to mount a counter balance and the pop up will be beautifully sat poised ready for the hook to sink into a big leathery bottom lip! I would normally go for around 1.5 – 2 inches to ensure the hook point is sat proud of any bottom weed and debris. I tie my hook baits on with floss and use a slip knot to a rig ring.
The lake I’m referring to in this article is fairly shallow and has plenty of bird life so I’ve found that a darker bait during daylight hours works best and any colour at night. The new Aromatic Fish from Mainline is perfectly suited to blend in well with a dark coloured silt bottom and tricks the birds so they miss my hook bait and eventually move off somewhere else in search of a meal. I do like to use a mix of baits to keep the fish guessing and even though I’m tricking the birds with a dark hookbait in the day I’d never go anywhere without the Cell. The Cell has a washed out look to it and I think this gives the carp confidence to get on the feed so it’s always included in my fishing.