Now that water temperatures have finally crept up and spring seems to have taken a firm hold at long last, fish in all lakes and carp in particular will be confidently spending more time in the upper layers of the water column. Their need for food becomes greater as they burn more energy and now is undoubtedly a great time of year to try and catch them off guard, with multiple hits there for the taking on the right venues.
Floater fishing is my favourite style of angling and I tend to base the bulk of my fishing time in the warmer months just mooching around with minimal kit. The thrill of watching several pairs of lips gradually gain confidence is a sight not many anglers tire of! It isn’t uncommon for me to fish hard all day on the surface and then plot up somewhere for the night, flick a couple of rods out in the hope of an opportunistic bite and then reel in the following morning and repeat the process. This sort of fishing is obviously venue-dependant i.e. it suits quieter waters best that offer plenty of space, but still shouldn’t be dismissed on heavily pressured day ticket lakes as it probably isn’t tried too often. Here are a few tips for you to try this spring/summer…
My preferred set up for most floater fishing consists of an ESP floater rod, Daiwa SS2600 reel and 12lb Shimano Catana mainline. This is a nicely balanced combination that suits most situations brilliantly. Rig wise, Nash bolt machine controllers take some beating and for hooklinks I favour either Preston Reflo or good old Double Strength in 10/12lb coupled with size 8 Super Specialist hooks. I’m not one for fining down excessively if I think doing so could result in lost fish and would rather spend more time feeding them and building their confidence if it means landing more of what I hook.
Tie spare rigs, set rods up, ‘pep up’ free offerings etc before a trip wherever possible so that you can capitalise on anything imminently. Spare terminal tackle is also important as you never know what might happen and extra rig materials, hooks and swivels will always come in handy. You may have a small window of opportunity now and again, perhaps finding a group of fish close in and a single mixer might be all that’s needed for a bite. Don’t forget to check the weather forecast regularly and note any slight wind switches or brighter spells throughout the day.
Plan ahead and carry an assortment of different controllers for different ranges and maybe even a normal carp rod and an over-depth Zig for fishing at long range. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket and be prepared to adapt to what’s going on in front of you as no two days are ever the same.
Being mobile is absolutely essential as you need to make the most of every minute and be ready to move around if the need arises. I tend to load up mixers, two rods, camera kit, a mat and any other bare essentials on the barrow. This means I’m able to quickly deposit bait via a Spomb or catapult with the rest of my kit left on the barrow in case I spot a better opportunity elsewhere. A good starting point is on the back of a light breeze, so that any free offerings can drift away from you in the ripple, hopefully falling into the path of any nearby fish.
If you’re serious about floater fishing, be prepared to take plenty of bait! The rats of the sky and any other water chickens will soon help to demolish all but the healthiest stocks of floaters in almost no time at all. I usually take two 5kg buckets; one filled with 6mm and the other 11mm floating trout pellets. Two different sizes help to prevent fish becoming preoccupied and will also help to disguise your hookbait a little more. Keeping the sizes separate means they can be catapulted as close range, or introduced via a Spomb where needed. Spare bait is also kept in the van in the event that I run out half way around the lake.
I like to boost my free offerings with several additives to increase their overall appeal. Salmon Oil helps to flatten off any slight surface ripple and Krill Amino Compound brings a dense food signal that slowly sinks through the water column, pulling inquisitive fish upwards. Powders like GLM and Betaine can also be added to help stimulate interest from any passing fish.
I’ve never really been a fan of super buoyant hookbaits like cork or foam as I think they can cause the hook to sit at a funny angle a lot of the time. As a result, either the Duo Floater Hookbaits or some home-made, cork dust-based cubes packed with oil are normally what I reach for. Both of these can be easily trimmed if necessary and with the weight of a hook, their buoyancy is very similar to any free offerings which I think is pretty important.
When the sun is at its highest and you have little in the way of shade to hide under, you can easily become dehydrated, often without realising. Take plenty of fluids on your travels to prevent this so that you can fish at your optimum for longer.
A decent pair of polaroids and a hat to remove any surface glare will help you find fish more easily, as will climbing trees where allowed/suitable. Observing the fish and their habits can also help you become more in-tune with their patrol routes and favoured areas where they are most comfortable; you’re always learning, even if you don’t realise at the time.
It can be all too tempting to cast in too early having seen a couple of fish investigate any bait you’ve introduced. The likelihood is that any fish in the area that are half-heartedly taking baits probably won’t appreciate the splash of a controller on top of their heads and so you’ll do more harm than good. Although it’s not easy, sit on your hands and wait until they’re ‘aving it and you’ll stand much more chance of hooking one.
Hopefully the above tips will help you put a few more fish on the bank this year, using a method that is still largely underused, exciting and relatively cheap. Give it a go!
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