June 14th, 2013: CARP ON FLOATERS
At last! I was beginning to think I’d never see sunshine again but the start of June finally delivered blue skies and much warmer temperatures. I’ve been waiting for this to happen for ages because the first warm spell of the spring will usually see carp cruising around in the surface layers and when that happens they can be suckers for a well-presented floating bait.
Timing is important because other anglers will be out there giving it a go ‘on the top’ and it’s not long before the fish wise up. Get in early and you’ll find the fish are much easier to catch. Leave it until they’ve been hammered and they’ll make a complete mug of you because carp can be as cute as they come.
I spent a glorious afternoon at Alderfen Lakes near Wroot in North Lincolnshire. It’s run by Dave Walker, the funniest, driest comedian of a fishery owner I have ever met. Honestly, the bloke has me in stitches but he’s more than a joker. He’s created a regular little paradise that features a match lake, a specimen lake and a carp lake. Right now it’s a riot of colour with gauze, broom, blackthorn, flag irises, wild orchids, you name it. Four years ago the site was quite bare, the sand and peaty soil would get everywhere and being in one of the flattest parts of the country the wind just cut you in half. Today the place is unrecognisable, the trees have matured rapidly and he should feel rightly proud.
Alderfen’s carp lake is what many would describe as a runs water. The fish are mostly in double figures running to mid-twenties and they are stocked in good numbers. Pegs are well spaced out and there’s a general feeling of serenity. I turned up in midweek to find the whole lake was deserted which is ideal if, like I was, you are intent on wandering around with one rod, a landing net and a small bag to carry the bait and accessories.
It pays to stay mobile when surface fishing. You move to the fish rather than sit in one spot and hope the fish will move to you. It’s a case of being stealthy and keeping your eyes open.
I’ve caught carp on all manner of surface baits from floating seeds, bread, trout pellets, dog and cat biscuits and even marshmallows but there’s nothing like a bag of mixers for flexibility. Dog biscuits, or mixers, can be bought cheaply from pet stores and supermarkets. They come in all shapes, sizes and colours. When carp have seen a bit of pressure a switch to cat biscuits can pay off. Cats are much pickier than dogs so the flavours are more subtle, the quality, I suspect, has to be a little higher.
Dog biscuits lend themselves to modification. You can flavour them and use food dyes to change the colour. Preparation couldn’t be much easier. Pop some dog biscuits in a polythene bag add a little water to wet them making sure not to overdo this. Shake them up so everything gets damp and seal up the bag. Leave for a few hours and they’re ready to use. As the biscuits absorb the water they soften and go rubbery which allows you to then stick a hook in them.
If you add any kind of boilie flavouring or food dye to the water then the dog biscuits will change colour not to mention smelling and tasting differently. It really is as easy as that.
The set up can be as simple as a free-lined bait but most use a small controller float to give a bit of casting weight. These run freely on the line and can be fixed in position with a couple of silicone float stops.
Floater fishing is as exciting as it gets because you can see everything. Catapult out a few free offerings and watch them as they drift away from you. Don’t go casting out the first time one is slurped down by a hungry carp or you’ll scare it away. Take your time, be patient and keep feeding a few free offerings. One feeding carp will attract others. Once they start competing they get reckless and your chances of catching increase dramatically.
Don’t cast at them, cast beyond and very slowly draw back your bait into the feeding area, always remembering to keep replacing the free offerings that get eaten. Watching a pair of rubbery lips engulf your hook bait has to be one of the most heart-stopping moments in angling, especially if it’s a big fish. Just be careful not to strike until the bait is taken and your line moves or you’ll miss the take and spook the shoal. If that happens, reel in, take a deep breath and start feeding again. Whatever you do don’t be in a hurry to recast or you’ll catch nothing.
Surface fishing is a real buzz but it will test your patience to the limit. Get it right and you’ll want to do it all the time. Beware, it’s addictive!
Phone: 07772 033398
When stalking I’d recommend wearing the best polarising sunglasses you can afford as they cut out surface glare and make spotting fish much easier. Quality is everything. A Which? magazine survey revealed some cheap lenses can actually damage your eyes. For the past 15 years I’ve purchased mine from Optilabs, a laboratory that specialises in sports eyewear and they have a selection of lenses dedicated to angling. All you do is select a frame from the web site and choose which lens you’d like. If, like me, you wear prescription lenses then you send them a copy of your latest prescription and they make them to suit you.
Tel: 020 8686 5708
Fishery Of The Week
It could easily be argued that Bluebell Lakes at Tansor, just outside Oundle, Northamptonshire (01832 226042) is the UK’s premier day ticket specimen fishery. Six lakes, a 2-mile stretch of the River Nene, including a weir plus a creek.
The list of lake records on the fishery web site will make any serious angler sit up and take note. Study the names of who caught the records and when and you’ll see many of the fishery records have fallen in the last couple of years. The roll call includes bream over 18lbs, tench to over 13lb, specimen roach to 3-8, perch of 4lbs plus and huge pike. It even produced a massive catfish estimated to weigh more than 90lbs and the pictorial evidence suggests it was every ounce of that. The carp record stands at 64lb 8oz although that particular fish now resides in a glass case in the tackle shop. However this is definitely the place to target a thirty or even 40lb carp. Just check the news section of the web site and you’ll see half a dozen thirties including a forty came out in one day alone last month.
Day tickets are dependent upon which of the 6 lakes you decide to fish, how many rods you want to use and how long you intend to stay although they start from as little as £3.50 for 2 rods for an evening ticket on the river.