How To Catch Carp In Silt

big lin carp caught in silt

Big Lin weighing 37lb from Tyram Hall, caught from a silty depression

Silty water offers a great deal of carp fishing potential. You can almost guarantee that if there’s silt in your water, the carp will know about it and feed there. The only determining factor is that where silt is sparse compared to the surrounding bottom, it is sure to be very obvious to the angler as well, putting the fish very much under pressure.

On the other hand, where silt is abundant, the coin is reversed and the task of locating the feeding areas is somewhat harder. In fact, it can be so difficult on some waters, it’s one of the main reasons why I think the silty meres and estate lakes are the hardest venues to fish.

Find your mark

silty carp lake

A shallow silty estate lake with big carp

Getting to know the lake bed is where success at silt fishing really lies, especially on those waters which hold a great deal of it. I firmly believe that not even the pressure cycle can make some gravel pits as hard as the heavily silted venues, which have an awkward nature about them.

The reason for this is that not all silt is the same. It varies in depths as well as in age. It is formed in a number of different ways too, more often than not by deposits of leaf matter which are then broken down by organisms in the aquatic environment.

In a newly dug gravel pit (twenty years old or less), silt may be found in very isolated patches. These may be a couple of centimetres deep. Finding them could lead to the gold mine we all dream about. The leeward side of a gravel bar may be one such area, or perhaps the windward end has a bay which is surrounded by trees. Naturally occurring weed areas may be silty too – the silt is often why the weed roots have established there.

silt forms from leaves

Silt is formed by fallen leaves being broken down by organisms in the water

At an old estate lake, the silt is likely to be much deeper and different in composition. The depth of the water may only look a couple of inches but underneath there is four feet of silt. The older the silt, the deeper it usually is, but the important thing to remember is that age does not affect the richness of the food found among it. A lot of the nutrients a water needs are locked up in the silt, which is why fisheries add lime to silty areas to assist with nutrient control.

Stinky silt

a handful of silt

Silt might appear horrible, but the carp most definitely love it – as long as it’s not rank…

You may also find really smelly silt. These are usually in the deeper windward areas. This kind of silt stinks and is very black in appearance. It sounds strange, but the best way of finding it is after you’ve fished. Where it is present, your hookbait will turn black after soaking up the deposits of it. It will have lost all attraction and will smell of rotten eggs, and in my experience these areas aren’t very good.

Bait for carp in silt

particle bait

My first choice bait for silt is particles

The ideal in silt is to discover the natural food larders. These are the spots which the carp visit to feed on a regular basis. A rolling fish in the same spot may be a sign of one, as might fizzing making its way up from the bottom, or coloured water. The food larders are sometimes locked up in the silt as much as a couple of feet down, because this is where the larvae feel safest depositing their eggs. Once they’ve been discovered by the carp, there will almost certainly be a difference in depth.

One of the best types of bait for silt is particles. I’ve had so many memorable sessions over silt using tiny seeds, it’s usually the first bait which comes into my mind when I’m confronted with it. Small seeds which excite the grubbing instincts of carp would be my first choice because they resemble the types of food that carp feed on in these areas. They tuck away into little crevices and get the carp rooting around which prolongs the feeding spell, as the fish need to work to achieve satisfaction.

Of course boilies also work well over silt. However, I tend to use them only where the silt is much firmer as I don’t like the idea of burying them, making it hard for the carp to find them. On the hook I prefer bottom baits when I can get away with them, but there aren’t many types of silt that are hard enough to keep this type of presented bait visible. I therefore have a tendency to use pop-ups more than anything when confronted with silt. A lot of silt has at least an inch or two of suspended surface layer, so I usually go with one of about two-inches up off the deck, critically balancing it on a fairly long link of at least 8-inches.

Which rig to use in silt?

align the tubing properly with the hook

A basic hair rig should suffice here

For the rig I use the same basic one I looked at last time. I will take into consideration that the lead may sink into the silt, so if I’m using a preferred length of hooklink, say 8-inches, I will add a couple of inches to allow for the sinking of the lead. This applies to both boating out hookbaits as well as casting. If I’m boating out, I’m usually fishing at extreme range, in which case I will be using a heavy lead to keep the line tight.

So there you have it, a short and concise look at how I tackle silt. I’ve had some great catches down the years from silty waters and you too can experience the same if you tackle it in the right way.

Tight lines!

Simon Crow

All images courtesy of Simon Crow

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Simon Crow

About Simon Crow

Co-winner of the first ever global carp match in 1996, Simon Crow has been a sponsored angler for over 30 years. His main focus is on Carp, and to date he’s managed to catch them from more than 300 different waters, including 50-pounders from six different countries (England, France, South Africa, Austria, Hungary and Romania). He’s the author of four books, including Adventures of a Carp Angler. Simon was editor of Carp-Talk, and lends his expertise to reputable titles such as Carpworld and Coarse Angling Today. At the 2014 Carpin’ On Show in Essex he was inducted into the prestigious Carp Fishing Hall of Fame. Follow Simon on Twitter.