This month Clive Jones asked, “I fish on our club waters which are basically very picturesque parkland lakes of about 5 – 7acres in size, surrounded by trees. Both lakes have approx 6” of silt on the bottom. There appears to be very little (if any) gravel areas. I am struggling to be confident which rigs are best to use as the weights always plug and the hooks always seem to be covered in weed when they are retrieved. I always use boilies as my preferred baits and I have tried pop ups, bottom baits on running, helicopter, zigs & chod rigs, but nothing seems to work! There are a good head of Carp in the lakes up to nearly 30lb, but I have had too many blank days that my confidence is being somewhat dented. Please help & advise.”
Check out Mark, Dave and Rich’s response…
“It seems apparent to me Clive that you are suffering from a lack of confidence! Nothing breeds confidence like captures and you have to try and evaluate what you are doing. You don’t mention if other anglers are doing well. If they are not, it could be that the Carp are switched on to naturals. In the past I have fished lakes that have little pressure and everyone thinks these Carp will be easy but usually it is the exact opposite. In contrast, look at how many Carp come out of the Linear complex! These Carp know what angler’s bait is and feed on it accordingly.
“If you are fishing on silt I would look to use long hooklinks of a braided type. The last thing you need is a stiff hooklink on a short trace. This could easily protrude straight up, plugged in the silt and look awful. To give your confidence more of a boost, I would also use a stick to cover most of your trace. This will help in making sure it doesn’t tangle because I would use 12″ hooklinks. Yes, 12″! I would also use very light ingredients in your stick such as Krill powder, breadcrumbs and an oil that leaks in all temperatures such as walnut oil. Fish light leads with this and feather your casts down. I am sure this will do the trick but let us know how you get on.” Holmesy
“It sounds to me as if you’ve blown your mind with rigs/tactics which has made it even more complicated than it needs to be! So my advice – strip everything back and start again. To combat the silt, don’t be afraid of it – I fished last winter on a silty water that sounds quite similar to where you have been targeting and my fail safe rig on there was simply a long KD rig. I fished a balanced out snowman that I made sure sank nice and slowly to settle on top of the silt and also added a bit of dissolving foam to add to the buoyancy. The length of the rig is key as you have to allow for the lead plugging into the silt so in most situations a rig of just over a foot of soft coated braid is plenty but I have gone to over 3ft in the past when fishing over deep silk weed. Couple this with a light lead, as light as you can get away with for the distance being cast, my preference being around 1.5oz and if you do need to go bigger you might want to extend the length of the hook link further. Remember though even a light lead when plugged into silt will offer a lot more resistance than over a hard bottom so don’t worry about hooking them!
“I would use something like this and just build up your confidence in the rig and then you can put all your effort into the really important bit – finding the fish!” Rich
“It would be very hard from this basic outline to give you a definitive answer, because the reason for your blank days could and most likely be due to more than one reason. What you have to do is slowly eliminate every possibility.
“Firstly, do the fish eat your bait and have you ever tried to find out if this is your problem. I would stop fishing for a while and go and do some observing. Have you ever seen Carp feeding anywhere on the lake? Baiting spots you can observe will soon answer this issue. Bait is still the most important part in the Carp fishing jigsaw.
“Don’t worry about the silt if that is the make-up of the lake bed then I can assure, that’s where the fish will feed. What you need to do is find the areas they are currently feeding on. Silt when disturbed generally can be seen quite easily look for bubbling, coloured water and obviously showing fish. If you find all these three together in one spot, I can assure you if they are not spawning then they are feeding. Regardless of circumstances it’s always a good idea to fish where they are feeding, it generally means doing your best not to disturb them so forget the free offerings or heavy leads if possible.
“My advice on the rig issue would be to try using something that cannot be pulled into the silt and will help mask the hook arrangement to a degree, but without impeding its effectiveness. You can do this with big diameter bait sticks threaded onto your hook length. Should be make sure you put one of those dissolving nuggets over the hook point and never pull or over tighten down onto your lead. Generally the dissolving nugget comes to the surface so you have a little guide to where your freshly cast rig is and it’s also a good indicator that your hook is not fouled on any detritus or weed.”
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