The Right Opportunity
Joe recounts a surface fishing session he'll never forget.
With a couple of days off work during the week, I was keen to make the most of the opportunity. With the temperature on the rise and a warm week ahead, it was clear the carp were going to be in the upper layers. Deciding the venue was easy. 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 around the surface layers. The floater gear was got out of the car and I began my session. There were a few fish mouthing scum off the surface, so my first plan of attack was to try 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 an instant success. A low-twenty 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 7pm I noticed a very big fish feeding in amongst a group of carp. I had to get a closer look, so I snuck around t0 get a better vantage point. The next two or three hours were spent watching the Lake's ultimate prize, known as NG. It was bodyguarded by six commons which kept doing circuits around the particular corner I was feeding. They were coming into the free offerings and Pacmanning for 30 seconds before drifting off for five minutes and then repeating the process. The interesting thing was the big girl's behaviour; 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 the rush into anything and risk sabotaging any opportunity that arose. Unfortunately, the opportunity didn't come that evening. Darkness encroached and my chance was gone. Although I still had fish feeding, I wasn't going to place a rig in amongst them just on the off-chance she might take it. The risk of hooking another fish and ruining the opportunity was not one I was willing to take. After all, 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 another instant take resulting in another low-twenty. The next hour or so was just absolute carnage, resulting 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 beaten up. It was time to make a decision, and for me it was easy. The rods were left out of the water that night, as I was badly in need of sleep. This is something I'd never normally dream of, but a long week at work and a draining day had caught up on me. Floater fishing can be mentally draining. Being alert to everything going on around you and staying focused is crucial. Trying to do all this after a night of no sleep would be stacking the odds against myself before I even started.
Although I had good intentions of getting a good night's sleep, it didn't quite happen. Having seen my ultimate prize feeding in front of my eyes, all I could think about was floater fishing in the morning. I was too excited to start the next day, but luckily I was fuelled by 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 arise once I had the fish feeding with gusto. After a couple of hours the very same group of fish appeared once more. This time, however, the big girl was pushing through and mouthing scum on the surface on their patrol route. After some time spent observing them, I finally saw the right opportunity arise.
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, then slowly edged it back towards their 'flight path'. It couldn't have been more bang on, and my heart was racing, just yards away from making possible contact. Then one of the commons pushed ahead... they'd spotted the hookbait and it was a race between them. I had to take action, so I ever so slightly tweaked the hookbait back to deter the common from taking it. Luckily, it didn't spook, but just turned its head. A split second later the moment I'd dreamed of occurred: the big girl took my hookbait with gusto and rolled away from me in typical fashion. To my relief I made an instant connection, and then began the most nerve-wracking fight I've had. After what felt like a lifetime, I finally slipped her over the net cord - a moment that'll stay with me forever! I couldn't believe it when the scales read 40lb 9oz; a new personal best off the top and a fish I dearly wanted, all in one capture. I truly couldn't have been any happier!
I ended up with 14 fish in total, with 13 of them coming to surface tactics, including seven twenties and a thirty. If that's not enough to make you get out floater fishing, then I don't know what will!
Adapting to what's going on around you when fishing is vital to being consistent, but knowing what to do in what situation is something that can only come from experience. One thing is for sure, though: no one wants to sit behind motionless rods, so be sure to keep that floater kit on you for when the time is right.