Mitch Hammonds takes us through his step by step guide on how to avoid nuisance species and catching carp
Mission Accomplished - Text Only
Keen surface angler Joe Atkinson reached a personal milestone this year, catching a 40lb carp off the top.
So, with a couple of days off work during the week, I was keen to make the most of a good opportunity. The temperature was on the rise and a warm week was ahead, and it was clear the carp were going to be in the higher layers. Deciding the venue was easy for me. After a quick check to see only one other lad was on the lake, it was settled – Par Fisheries’ Back Lake, a water that’s been very kind to me in the past.
On arrival at the venue around mid-afternoon, it didn’t take long to spot some carp cruising in the surface layers. I got the floater gear out of the car and began my session. There were a few fish mouthing scum off the surface, so my first plan of attack was to try to nick a quick bite. I made a cast well past them and on their patrol route, slowly easing it towards their path. Luckily for me, it was instant success. A low-20 common came up and nailed my hookbait; the perfect start I was after. That afternoon I went on to have another six fish, all falling to surface tactics.
At around 7.00 p.m. I noticed a very big fish feeding in amongst a group of carp. I had to get a closer look, so I snuck round to get a better vantage point. The next 2-3 hours were spent watching the lake’s ultimate prize, one known as NG. It was guarded by six commons, and they kept doing circuits around a particular corner I was feeding. They were coming into the free offerings and Pac-Manning for 30 seconds, drifting off for 5 minutes, and then repeating the process. The interesting thing was the big girl’s behavior; she was holding back off the others as they were feeding. As they stopped, she would instantly push through and take a mixer. But that was literally it, just one single mixer. Being the one I dearly wanted, I wasn’t going to rush into anything and risk sabotaging any opportunity that arose. Unfortunately, the opportunity never came that evening, as darkness fell and my chance was gone. Although I still had fish feeding, I wasn’t going to place a rig in amongst them on the off-chance she might take it. The risk of hooking another fish and ruining this opportunity was not something I was willing to do. There was always tomorrow.
The light had gone, so I settled into a swim for the night, and after putting the first rod out, I had an instant take, resulting in another low-20. The next hour or so was absolutely hectic, and it resulted in 11 tench. I couldn’t keep a rod in the water, and with no rigs tied in preparation for such events, I was getting beat up. It was time to make a decision, and for me it was easy. The rods were left out of the water that night because I was badly in some need of sleep; a long week at work and a draining day had caught up with me.
This is something I’d never normally dream of, but having seen my ultimate prize feeding in front of my eyes, all I could think about was floater fishing in the morning. Floater fishing can be mentally draining, as being alert to everything going on around you and staying focused is crucial, and trying to do after a night of no sleep would be stacking the odds against me before I’d even started. Although I had good intentions of getting a good night’s sleep, it didn’t quite happen. I was too excited to start the next day, but luckily I was fuelled on adrenaline.
First light approached, and I was up and ready, introducing some mixers. My plan was the same as the previous evening. I would wait for the right opportunity to come, and I had the fish feeding with gusto. After a couple of hours, the very same group of fish appeared once more. However, this time the big girl was pushing through and mouthing scum on the surface on the patrol route. After some time spent observing them, I finally saw the right opportunity.
The group was heading towards another patch of mixers 40 yards or so in front of them, and the big girl was leading the charge. I made a cast well beyond them, slowly edging it towards their path. It couldn’t have been more bang on, and my heart was racing. Just yards away from making possible contact, one of the commons pushed ahead. They had spotted the hookbait and it was a race between them, so I had to take action. I ever so slightly tweaked the hookbait back to deter the common from taking it. Luckily for me it didn’t spook, but just turned its head a split second after. It was the moment I’d dreamed of, and she took my hookbait and rolled away from me in typical fashion. To my relief, I made instant connection, and the most nerve-wracking fight I’ve had began. After what felt like a lifetime, I finally slipped her over the net cord, and it’s a moment that will stay with me forever. The scales read 40lb 9oz, and I truly couldn’t believe it. A new personal best off the top, and a fish I dearly wanted all in one capture. I couldn’t have been any happier.
For the rest of the trip, I ended up with 14 fish in total, 13 of them coming to surface tactics – seven 20s and one 30, and if that’s not enough to make you get out floater fishing gear, then I don’t know what will. Adapting to what’s going on around you when fishing is vital to being consistent. Knowing what to do in which situation is something that can only come from experience. One thing is for sure though, is that no one wants to sit behind motionless rods, so keep the floater kit on you for when the time is right.