Above the Surface and Below! (Part 1)
My day starts as usual doing the school run and walking the hound; the sun just breaking through the clouds with a very light south westerly breeze. Time spent thinking to myself, ‘work’s quiet at the moment so perfect for a bit of surface fishing at the neglected day ticket water.’ I got back from walking the dog and quickly grabbed my surface gear and a bucket full of dog biscuits and a pot of mixed System-X pop-ups. After a 15 minute drive I arrived at the water. Not a soul there except for the old boy that bailiffs the water, and his dog Tilly. He’s a funny old boy exchanging the usual friendly banter and royalties.
The first water I targeted was what I call the canal pool. Not a very big water so you can chuck biscuits on hair from the bank to the other side comfortably. Sized at around three quarters of an acre in length and well matured as it was dug in the early 1960’s. It holds a handful of big fish which haven’t been caught for a while which makes it a very interesting small water. There’s a few very good looking fish lurking around, from mid double to lower twenties with some old warriors amongst them. The fish themselves tend to hang out underneath the willow trees hugging the far bank; the water is also covered with pollen and catkins from the willow trees. Due to the time of year, the fish tend to sit under the scum looking for a tasty morsel. I fed a few loose System-X glugged biscuits to get the fish milling about, and after a couple of minutes a few fish gave themselves away by breaking through the scum with their lips sucking on the freebies. Thinking to myself I will try a different approach today instead of the usual 2 biscuits on the hair I tried a trimmed down System-X washed out pink pop up to give them something different to think about. I utilised 14lbs mainline tied to a 12lb surface line with a size 10 curved hook with a short hair tight to the hook as the carp get easily spooked in this pool.
I eagerly got the gear set up and ready to go and quickly spotted a rather large common milling around in the separated parts of the scum looking for food. I cast past him and slowly retrieved the hook bait into the area of interest. He quickly turned towards my offering… While my heart raced with anticipation his large mouth sucks in my hook bait! I strike! The fish on the soft rod I’m using lunged into action, line peeling off the reel spool and then! No hook pull! Gutted!!! Straight away I spotted a fish struggling to gut up in the upper layers of the water, a very wide and fat fish which appeared to be a mirror. I cast straight back out towards the mirror, which straight away sucked in the hook bait from a good 6 inches. I struck, but straight out again! Aaaarrrrhhhh! Absolutely gutted as that was another big one gone. Frustrated and annoyed with myself I decided to move onto another pool and come back later when I’ve calmed down!
The middle pool holds loads of fish more for the pleasure angler with a few big ones in amongst them. I put a few biscuits out with a throwing stick and pretty much straight away they’re up and feeding. Using the same tactic, I cast out straight away into a chunky little common, leading myself to believe they like something different, just like the pink floating pop up I offered. With the common in the net and me happier now after the disappointment earlier, I unhooked her and slipped her back to her watery home. I re-baited the hook link and got it straight back out there to the feeding fish. Not long and I was back into another fish. This time a long lean mirror! An hour passes and have caught 4 fish, nothing big but they’re loving the washed out pink pop up approach. It was time to wonder down to my favourite pool of the three, the neglected one with some old warriors and a few large residents in.
The weather had changed from partly cloudy to bright sunshine with not a cloud in the sky. It was very warm with no breeze at all so not really the best conditions as the fish seemed more interested in sunbathing; plus they have spawning on their minds with the water temperature creeping up. I scouted a group of fish swimming around at leisurely pace tacking the odd morsel off the surface so flicked some biscuits to them and they swim straight past. While thinking it was going to be a struggle, all of a sudden, one of the fish separates from the group and decides to feed on the freebies so I quickly cast my bait to him. Taking the free offerings confidently he swims straight to my hook! These fish in this pool fight a lot harder than the others in the other two waters. After a 20 minute scrap he’s in the net; a lovely unscathed mirror, I bite the line and let him rest in the net as by then it was quite warm and humid; so after a minute or two I unhooked him in the cradle. Not a huge fish, but a stunner with a massive paddle. I rehydrated him with a tub of water and put him in the sling to weigh. A few photos later and he were back in the water. After my catch a few more fish decided to feed on the freebies, so I put a few more out to keep them occupied and spotted a very long mirror amongst them… easily 30lb so I made that my target for my next cast. I tied a new hook link and re- baited with the reliable pink pop up. Spotting my target fish about 2 rod lengths from the spot I’d been feeding I flicked the hook bait to the mirror, out of nowhere, without sight or warning, I struck into a large fish. The reel screamed and soon stripped 50 yard of line from me. After a very strong couple of runs the fish decided to come back to me about a rods length from the bank plodding back and forth staying tight to the bottom of the lake bed. Seeing the fish for the first time, I managed to ease her towards the surface telling myself not to rush. But ‘twang’, the surface line had snapped! “Aaaaaarrrrrrhhhhhh” I yelled up the bank fuming. They say bad luck comes in threes and it does! 3 big fish lost! Feeling really angry with myself I decided to go back up to the canal pool to see if we can winkle a couple out as the fish in neglected pool had all spooked after losing that fish.
The fish on the canal pool were still in the scum looking for food. So using the same tactics, I spot a fish a couple of feet off the bank so popped my hook bait where the fish were feeding… Boom! Straight away with a lovely mid-double mirror. Unhooked her, photo was taken and slipped her back into the water. But pretty much straight away I’m into another fish! This time a really hard fighting mid double mirror, a real beauty. A little bit happier but still kicking myself, especially losing the big mirror on the neglected pool, I decided to call it a day with having to pick the better half up from work. I will be back and one of the 3 escaped fish will be mine! Keep keeping on!
SSP Baits Team Member