Picture the scene; yesterday (Saturday) morning and I awake after a nice lie in – well, 9am is a lie in for me! Lisa was going out for the day to meet up with some old work friends and I had an unplanned day ahead of me – a rarity nowadays. As we lay there she asked what I was going to do and at that precise moment I had no idea. That is, until the sun poked through the cloud outside and suddenly lit up the bedroom through the curtains, “Hmmm, well, I might just nip down the road for a few hours floater fishing”
“I thought you might say that” was Lisa’s reply.
It was cold, or certainly colder than it had been over recent weeks with the temperature hovering at just 7°c as I readied my gear, although the sun kept peeping through the clouds giving a warming effect. I arrived at the Pools that had produced my 24lb 4oz October result a week or so ago and decided which pool to go for. The pools lie at the bottom of a steep sided valley and the sun had only just appeared over the hill so things were still pretty chilly on my arrival. I felt the carp would be in the bottom layers of the water and it may be some time before they moved up to the top layers and as such, I decided the shallowest pool would be a good start. In addition I felt a roving approach would probably suit best, in effect trying to stalk one off the top rather than try to get them going in one area throughout the day. As the bottom lakes can get busy of a weekend I settled on the very top pool, furthest from the road up a very muddy track with most of its banks in a similar state due to the amount of rain over the last few weeks – thus a really messy affair. To be honest this was just what I wanted as it would probably mean I would have the place to my self for a few hours at least. Bingo – on getting to the top pool there was nobody in sight.
I had a walk around to see what was what and settled on an area that was getting the most of the sun’s warming rays. It was the first time I had fished the pool for many years; in fact the last time must have been when I was about nineteen years old, and so the memories came flooding back. It had changed a lot since those halcyon days, having been extended further and then left to mature. If anything it had been left to nature a little too much and the shallow water had become infested with sedges which had continued growing out into the water and now occupied about half of the total surface area. However, what this did do was to offer lots of nice little bays and alcoves to drop a few mixers into. After ten minutes in my chosen spot nothing was happening. The water was free from wind and from my vantage point I would have been able to make out any activity. Once everything was ready I poured a brew from my flask and sat back to watch the water for signs of life whilst feeding in mixers every few minutes. At this point the sun went back behind cloud and a small rip developed as it started to rain (great!) pushing my mixers right into the back of a little bay, fringed on all sides by masses of dead sedges. However, the back of the bay was not the back of the lake, if you imagine a canal with a lock gate, it was a bit like that; the 'gate' being a few sedges separating my side of the bay between the back of another bay which could be fished from around the other side of the pool. The wind that had picked up started pushing a few of the mixers through this nest of sedges separating the two bays and moved them through to the back bay beyond. Shortly afterwards whilst I was pouring another brew I heard a slop of water from somewhere in the far bay. I stood on slightly higher ground and saw ripples emanating from a spot near the edge of the sedges – it had to be a carp.
I fired a few more right into the back of the bay in the hope of drawing the fish (if they were fish) through into my side of the bay. It had been over an hour since I fired out the first mixers but I fully expected a protracted operation. Shortly after firing the last lot of mixers to the back of the bay they arrived. They being the carp - their arrival signified by lot of ‘shlooooop’ sounds as they began sucking in the mixers close in to the sedges. Game on – in November!
Presenting a bait effectively was always going to be tricky to say the least. Not just the cast that was required to get the hookbait to the back off the bay but also with regard to the chances of actually landing a fish hooked in the area – quite remote due to the dense sedges on both sides. The amount of line out would simply mean they would be deep in the sedges before I could get in control of the situation. I needed to pull them further out from the back of the bay to stand a better chance of banking a fish. So, patiently, I kept applying the mixers but it was a tough call, every now and then they would come out to pick off the odd one only to return to the back of the bay and wait for the mixers to be blown in on the wind – not stupid, these carp.
I was thinking about the possibility of attacking them from the other side of the bay but the problem would be the same, the swim just reversed. If anything it was better from this side as the wind was working with me blowing the bait into the ‘zone’ whereas from the other side it would constantly be blowing the hook baits back towards the bank. As my hookbait drifted in to the bay on another pass through, my attention was suddenly diverted to something in the corner of my eye away to my right, and I turned my head to see a decent sized fish just under the surface heading out towards the island. Then, as I looked back to my hookbait I saw the controller jerk backward with a massive swirl right where the hookbait was – I had just missed a take by moving my eye of the ball. I was gutted. The three fish I had spent so long getting to feed confidently all disappeared in unison leaving me all alone to contemplate my own stupidity.
I decided to wind in and rest the swim for a while - hopefully they would return. I decided to have a walk around to the back bay to see if I could spot where they had skulked off to. As you walk around the far side of the pool it becomes almost unfishable due to the sedges, there is a strip of clear water from the bank to about six feet out and then solid, dense, sedges – a bit like a stream running around the margin with an island of sedges in the middle. As I got around to the back of the bay it opened out a bit – certainly enough room to land a fish but you’d have to get them feeding in one area to be safe. As I neared the back bay I was stopped in my tracks by a loud ‘schlooooop’. It was so close that I immediately dropped to my hands and knees, my heart rate doubled. I peered through the overgrown marginal cover to see a fully scaled mirror of about eight pounds happily scouring the surface for mixers among all the leaves and debris – his mouth opening and closing to sample whatever was there and his pectoral fins gently keeping his head upon the surface – a small but beautiful fish. I looked up to the bay to the opening and realised that my mixers were being blown through the bay where I had been fishing, into the back bay until they hit the far bank, and were then slowly making their way down this little back channel of water and within moments I heard the distinct sounds of carp taking mixers all around me!
Immediately the permutations started to run through my head. Landing a fish hooked in the channel would be a big ask. Granted they were only small fish so I could bully them more than normal but still I knew I would need to hook one up in the bay section to land one safely. Besides, with so many about I would hopefully be able to wait for a bigger fish to come along before springing the trap.
I carefully crawled back on hands and knees (I was wearing my chesties) until I was out of view of the fish and then hurried back around to get my gear with the sound of carp mopping up mixers filling my ears – I became heady with the tantalising possibilities that lay ahead – was a November surface capture on the cards?
Once back in the vicinity I dropped my gear well away from the fish so as not to spook any and thought about how to go after them. After sound advice from a friend on my Northern-Monkeys.com forum I’d changed my floater set up entirely, now consisting of mainline down to a gizmo-clip, onto which you slide a controller and a hooklink attached via a small swivel before sliding a tail-rubber back over the gizmo. The beauty of this was that I could now simply slip the controller off the gizmo and fish the hooklink free lined in order to stalk the fish as I was now in such close proximity.
Once everything was ready I crawled up behind the marginal cover with my rod at my side. Now was the waiting game; I plopped a few mixers right into the zone just a rod length from the bank and sat back to see which fish would appear first. I waited for a while crouched low but the only fish in the area seemed quite small, all averaging six to ten pounds. They were taking the mixers so confidently that I reckon I could literally have lowered the hook bait down in front of any one of them and it would have been sucked in at the first time of asking. I waited a little bit longer in the hope of something bigger coming along but then a few of the fish started to drift off. My concern now was actually banking a November fish for the challenge, and decided the best thing was to try and get one in the bag. I had several hours of fishing left ahead of me so I could worry about size later.
At that point I noticed the fully scaled little mirror in the channel just away to my left. I plopped a mixer a few feet in front of him and he slowed, drifted underneath it, then slowly started to rise as his head came level with the biscuit and ‘schlooop’. Down it went. I fed a few more leading back into the zone and then as he came into the area slowly lowered my hook bait in amongst the freebies. He picked off one, then another, and then circled around lining himself up for the hookbait. He rose to the surface opened his mouth… and missed!
I was sure he would spook but the greedy little fella just held steady with mouth open wide, wafted himself backwards fractionally so the biscuit came back in front of his mouth, and then sucked in again. His mouth closed around the biscuit and I gently lifted the rod round to set the hook - the water erupted in front of me.
Knowing the size of the fish you’ve just hooked has its advantages as obviously you know how much pressure you can apply safely. The 7.9lb line allowed me to fairly pull the fish back towards the bank in one deft move and away from the danger of the sedges. After a brief tussle I guided the carp into the net and that was it – November target achieved. Size was immaterial; I was over the moon with the capture and went about unhooking the fish wearing a smile from ear to ear. I weighed the fish for my surface challenge log, the plump little fish sending the dial round to 8lb 12oz. A good deal lighter then my last fish but no less welcome! I slipped him back to the water and went in search of another.
Basically, at each end of this strip of water there was an area just large enough to bank a fish safely, so for the rest of the afternoon I fed and stalked between the two spots. The beauty was that they were just far enough apart so that a fish banked (or lost) at one end would not spook the fish at the other end, and so with the water still completely to myself I could switch between the two spots. During the course of the afternoon I was able to bank a further three fish off the surface and pulled out of another two, the best fish banked was a mirror of 14lb 12oz – well chuffed!
So, on just my first November session I’ve achieved my target and I couldn’t be happier. However, I’m not stopping there - I’ll be out fishing again off the top before the month is out for sure. The good thing is that the pressure is now off for the rest of the month so I can start thinking about the weed situation on the Main Lake and how to overcome it to bank a winter kipper of Capesthorne.