Far Bank Dom Garnett argues the case for weedy fisheries...
Do you curse at wild, overgrown, weedy waters? Rather than changing fisheries you should change your mindset, reckons Dom Garnett
THE punter in the tackle shop is adamant: “It’s unfishable!” he says.
It’s in the height of summer each year that the local venue erupts with that common plague of anglers, weed. Fish and rigs disappear – the place has more salad than Waitrose.
I’ve seen groups of volunteers waist deep in the stuff, trying to put a dent in it, while some organisations even take to dyeing the water to remove it. But is weed really such a disaster?
For me, at least, those balmy days when the stuff is thick offer some of the best fishing of all.
A lot of swims will be deserted. The water will be be clear and rich, if a little tangled. And with plenty of extra shelter, the fish will often come right under your rod-tip.
There are issues to solve, admittedly. You might have to strengthen tackle to land that 5lb tench that comes to the net with its own bodyweight in plant matter. You might need to break out the rake or totally change your presentation. But is that such a bad thing?
If you’re still having doubts, consider the reverse scenario. Is there anything sadder than a classic-looking water where every shred of cover and vegetation has been stripped bare in the name of convenience? Clubs and fisheries quite often cave in to anglers’ complaints and set about removing some of the best fishholding features of all.
In the process they not only diminish natural beauty, but also rob the fish of natural food, turning them from wild creatures to hungry captives.
It’s easy to see why so many anglers prefer commercial fisheries and relatively featureless pools these days. Clear, weedy waters don’t take well to fancy rigs and heavy leads. They take fishing back to basic watercraft and simple tactics.
Freelining with traditional baits can be beautifully simple and effective. But with so much natural life amid the weed, using natural baits such as snails, or even fly fishing, are brilliant too.
Just sweep a net through the margins if you’re in any doubt of the value of weed. Shrimps, snails, water boatmen, damsel nymphs, you name it, the fish will be eating it – and I catch everything from roach and rudd to the odd tench on copies of natural insects at this time of year.
So rather than changing waters, I’d urge you to change your mindset when the green stuff takes over. Because even if some of us hate weed, our quarry thrives on it. Furthermore, those overgrown, less-fished spots so often produce the most beautifully-conditioned fish of all.