James Armstrong- The Surface Showdown
The warmer weather is well and truly among us and with it comes fantastic floater fishing conditions. Those days with a steady breeze, warmer water temperatures and fish cruising around in the upper layers quite simply screams out for a few pouchfuls of floating pellets and with a patient approach, consistent baiting and a number of fish up for a feed, it can lead to some pretty exciting and eventful action! This short feature highlights some of the important aspects to grasp when floater fishing, as it can be quite tricky at times, so having the knowledge and also, well balanced, considered tackle can lead to success when everything falls nicely in to place.
The early morning feed can actually be one of the most productive times of day to be up floater fishing, especially if the previous day and night have been exceptionally warm. Those first few hours of daylight are often best, just as the sun is slowly rising, the fish may already be located in the upper layers from the previous evening and a few spombs of floaters can be enough to get them going at first light. Very similar to the first light bite time when fishing on the deck, on those days that are incredibly warm and on venues that are deep, those fish may never actually venture down to the lakebed in a 24 hour period; which means that your best bet is targeting them in the upper layers! Set your alarm early and be there, brew in hand, watching the water for any signs of movement.
Baiting equipment can vary greatly depending on distance, but I have always found that spombing floaters is the most effective way at introducing large amounts quickly. Not only does the spomb keep the individual free offerings tight, but you can also be mega accurate and bait at range, which can be a huge edge on pressured waters. Clipping up to a desired distance and feeding a line will keep the fish interested for prolonged periods, allowing you to work the areas with the hookbait itself depending on where they are feeding.
When it comes to baiting, I prefer to use a mixture of free offerings in two different sizes; 6mm and 11mm. The smaller ones are great at getting them up and feeding, very much like a bed of hemp of the lakebed. The slightly larger ones are there to encourage them to eat larger items, which will in turn gain their confidence and result in them taking the hookbait with gusto! Hookbait wise, I like to present either a slither of cork or a dedicated Duo Floater hookbait; these are incredibly oily and super attractive. I add a generous helping of Tuna Oil to all of the floaters, which creates a wonderful slick in the water, allowing you to close watch the area they are feeding.
You have to be as finesse as you can get away with when it comes to fishing on the surface, this is because the light levels are high and as a result, components such as line and hooks are much more visible to the carp. Fine diameter lines and thinner mainline is key, but this will greatly depend on the situation and whether there are any snags or weed which could cause problems. I always opt for a pre- stretched, super strong monofilament where I can, allowing you to gear up with fine diameter to get those important bites. Balanced tackle is also key, a lightweight reel and soft rod will help to cushion the light line during the fight and allow you to hold the rod for the duration of the day without fatigue. You may have to adapt your tackle throughout the session and if the fish become particularly cagey, lengthen the hooklink itself.
I have always been a huge fan of the large missile style controllers for converting bites, as they create maximum resistance when a fish creates tension on the hooklink. They can also be cast at long distance, which can often come in handy if the fish do push out at range as the floaters drift. I generally always try to focus on the hookbait itself, often tipping it with a small piece of colour, just so I can try and hit those very finicky bites. At times when this cannot be done, I can rest assured that the float will hook the fish for me, as long as the line lay and distance between the hookbait and float is maintained by amending the line.
The key to getting bites quickly is through patience and feeding, watching and waiting for the right time to cast. You need to build up their confidence and the more fish that start to eat the floaters, the more will join in and then a competitive feeding scenario is achieved. When they are really having it, then is the time I look to cast, ensuring that I overcast by weighted float, drawing it back slowly among the feeding fish.
This style of fishing can be thoroughly exciting and engaging, so if you decide to get out there and have a go on the surface this summer, I hope some of the neat tricks I have highlighted here help you bag a whacker!