Beat the crayfish and land some stunning carp!

Crayfish are an increasing problem on many waters and have gradually spread across the country, meaning that anglers are having to find ways of avoiding the problems that they cause when you’re fishing!

Korda’s Jack Reid has been fishing just such a water, and although he’s not been catching any monsters, he has landed some stunning looking, scaly carp that are about as close to wild fish as you’re going to get these days!

It hasn’t been easy though and he has had to adapt his tactics to ensure that he hasn’t been spending most of his time without even having a bait on.

Jack explained: “The venue that I’ve been on is a seldom fished lake in Oxfordshire that I occasionally get to fish when I’m back in that part of the country.

“There is a maximum of 30 fish in there, and a couple of years ago the crayfish appeared and have spread to such an extent that fishing anywhere other than stalking in the edge has been near impossible.

“If you put out three rods with traditional hookbaits then within moments the liners would start and within ten minutes they would be destroyed or gone, regardless of the time of year. Having not fished many waters with crayfish in this really aggravated me, and I left the place alone apart from the odd stalking session when I could actually see my hookbait and know it was still there!

“This winter I got the urge to do a few 24 hour sessions and rise to the challenge of catching these essentially wild carp amongst the crayfish, and having never fished anywhere quite so infested with the little critters, I had to find a baiting and rig approach that would work.

“I thought about how I could survive their onslaught without recasting every 15 minutes throughout the night, and decided to go for a totally different baiting approach to usual, based on smell rather than having lots of individual baits.

“The thing that I learnt quickly with crayfish is that if there are enough of them, then you cannot hide from them. They will find your hookbait and mess up your rig, so this is not the time for the like of multi-rigs and stiff hinges!

“The masterplan was to locate an area where I believed that the carp would be holding up or passing through and then to bait up with a mini Spomb in the late afternoon and fish over it until the next day. I was using the same rods to Spomb with as I’d be fishing with, as they were loaded with SUBbraid.

“The idea was to put out a good spread of Cell and Atlantic Heat boilies that I’d blended in a food processor, along with a few cans of sweetcorn. The crayfish will still move onto your bait but will have a carpet of bits to go at and to keep them busy whilst they whittle away at the three kilos or so of bait that I’d put in.

“The crumb and corn creates so much smell in the water, without having larger food items, so even if the crayfish are on it constantly, there is still something left to draw the fish in.

“That brings me onto the rig, which has to serve two purposes – firstly the bait needs to survive without the crayfish eating it or pulling it off; and secondly it has to be as basic and hardy as possible, which means not relying on rig putty or shrink tube to make it work!

“I went with a basic 12 turn knotless knot with a size 6 Wide Gape and 20lb N-Trap Soft straight through with just the hair stripped back, and a Hybrid lead clip. Usually I sharpen my hooks, but when fishing around crayfish I just use them straight out of the packet as the big crayfish just blunt the sharpened ones quicker with their hard shell when they move the rig around.

“For the hookbait I have a pot of various plastic baits soaking in Pineapple Supreme, and chose an 8mm Korda dumbbell. To try and help keep it on the hair I tie several overhand loop knots in the hair so there is a larger knot for my hair loop, and this is inside the bait so helps keep it on. Usually the dumbbell has signs of crayfish, but they quickly get bored of the inedible hookbait and move onto the surrounding carpet of bait instead.

“On my latest session the plan all came together as I landed a brace of wild looking fully-scaled carp – not the biggest carp going but to me that was irrelevant. It was one of those mornings which remind you why you love carp fishing!

“I don’t know when I’ll be fishing this lake again, but the next time I end up somewhere with crayfish, I’ll have a solution to the problem.”