Sam Richards makes his first welcomed contribution to the RMC Angling Diary...
A Tale Of Swimming and Carp Wrestling! | Angling Diary
A Tale Of Swimming and Carp Wrestling!
A Tale Of Swimming and Carp Wrestling!
With the warm weather of Summer now upon us, it is time again to dust off the floater rod and pop down to Tescos for a bag of mixers to try and tempt the carp off the surface. Floater fishing, along with stalking, is undoubtedly one of the most exciting ways to fish for carp. Watching the big dark backs breaking the surface as the fish get nearer and nearer your hookbait is tremendous, if not a little frustrating at times! For me it's certainly a hell of a lot more fun than baking under a bivvy all day long watching the fish parade up and down in front of you! Over the last few years my favourite venue for surface fishing has been Manor Farm Lake in Oxfordshire. This water is perfect for floater fishing, being relatively shallow and weedy and containing some stunning fish that sometimes have a great appetite for floating pellet and mixers! It has also been kind to me in the past, giving up a fair number of its gorgeous Leney look alike residents to my mixer hookbaits. Another great thing about this water is that floater fishing is ignored by the majority, meaning that there is little competition amongst anglers trying to get fish feeding on the top. With St. Johns and Hardwick both producing 40lb+ fish now, Manor has gone from being the most popular venue on the Linear complex to one of the less busy. This is another bonus for anglers like me who are not particularly bothered about the other lakes on the complex and just want to target the superb fish that Manor holds, particularly Cut-Tail and the Birthmark Linear.
One memorable session was last August, where I had a social session at Manor with Kev 'The Hippy Hauler' Winter. He arrived at the lake at dawn (after getting lost and having to call me for directions), and because I wasn't driving at the time my Dad was going to drop me off at the lake a little bit later on. I had a call from Kev at around 5 o'clock, telling me firstly that he was shocked at how ugly the lake looked (being used to the tree-lined lakes at Yateley, gravel workings and grassy banks were not the norm!), and also that he was amazed at where everyone was fishing. At Manor, the first four swims on the lake are often the first to get taken. They can be very prolific swims, but in my opinion once there are two or three people fishing along the first few swims it tends to get a little 'stitched up'. The good thing about this is that you are sometimes left with 10 or so acres of water near enough to yourself! This is how the people were angling on this occasion, and while he was talking to one of the anglers on this bank, BOSH, a fish came right out over at the other side of the lake. And again. And again Somehow I think Kev knew where he was going to fish!
After walking round to the far bank, he found some fish right in the edge next to some snags. Placing a PVA bag where the fish were, it took about a minute before the rod tore off! Unfortunately the fish was lost due to a hook pull as it headed back to it's rooty home, but it was an encouraging start to the day for him, especially considering that he'd never seen the venue before that day! Sitting on my sofa at home, ready to go, I could hardly wait to get to the lake. I thought that by the time I got there it would be too late and the banks would filled with anglers. Fortunately this was not the case, and when I eventually arrived there was still a lot of lake with no anglers on it. Choosing a swim on the River Bank of the lake, it was evident that there were fish cruising around on the surface in front of it. I'll have that I thought!
Ignoring The Mixers
The floater rod was straight out and mixers were soon peppering the waters surface. The fish seemed like they couldn't care less, just lying in the weed around 15 yards out and ignoring the mixers inches from their mouths. It stayed like this for a few hours, and wandering down the bank a little, I found even more fish just cruising around about 20 yards out, behind a band of weed. This is better I thought, but an hour later and there was still little response from the fish. It was getting quite frustrating by now, but at that point I turned and saw that Kev had struck into a fish. The fish plodded around for a bit and then decided to weed itself about 10 yards out. Obviously eager to land his first Manor fish, Kevin decided to go for a little swim. What happened next was one of the funniest things I have seen ever whilst fishing. With the water being fairly shallow and the fish not far out, Kev was able to free it and bring it to the surface. However, when he swam back to the bank to carry on the fight, he found that the fish had simply dropped back down into the weed again and was stuck fast. Getting used to this swimming lark, he was soon back to where the fish was. Bringing the net out with him this time he was taking no prisoners. Grabbing the line, Kev dived down into the water, soon returning to the surface with the now angry fish in his arms! Literally wrestling the small stockie into the net, the fight was over. The now traditional 'Yes' shout was then called out to the lake (I think most of Heathrow heard him when he caught the PB Common from Horton!). The fish was weighed in at 13lbs, and Kev was well chuffed with his result, being a rare surface capture for him and his first fish from the lake. To cap it all off, whilst we were doing the photos, an angler on the far bank had reeled in and walked round. Thinking the shouting was due to the landing of a big'un, he was very surprised when 13lb of stockie stared back at him! Day ticket antics at their very best!
After the fish had been returned I walked back into my swim not too far away. The fish were certainly still there, but they were a lot more active than they had been. Firing out a few pouches of mixers, I was surprised when a dark big-shouldered mirror approached the mixers and took one. Half an hour later, this fish was doing regular circuits of the weedbed, taking three or four mixers every time. Time to introduce a hookbait I thought! As soon as the fish had completed another circuit I was ready to cast. Now for those of you who have read Dave Lane's book, he talks about how it is impossible to cast in a straight line when you have fish taking mixers in front of you. This theory was proved 100% correct as my cast landed in completely the wrong place! The second cast however landed bang on and I was well confident that I could get a take. It didn't take long for the big mirror to return, and it was heading straight for my hookbait! It took one mixer, then another, and then my hookbait. I struck as the fish turned away.and nothing. The mixer just flew back at me. I felt gutted but knew there were still fish to catch. Plus, the mirror seemed oblivious to the whole thing, and carried on in it's travels around the weed. I tried to get the fish feeding again for the next few hours but they just seemed content sunbathing, probably laughing at my unsuccessful attempts to catch them! All I got that afternoon was leeches! - I had waded out a few feet to increase casting distance with the small controller, but also because it was a scorching day and the cool water was too inviting. When I returned to the bank my feet were covered in small bloodsucking leeches!
Kevin had a few more chances that afternoon, including pulling his hookbait out of a big 20 with a distinctive nick in the top lobe of it's tail. Overall, an exciting days fishing was had, and it was amusing watching the anglers a few swims up wondering why nothing was happening on their baits fished in 12ft of water when it was clear that the carp were on the surface!
Fluky First Timers
The night was uneventful for me, but I was awoken by Kevin at dawn to photograph another fish that he had had. Fluky first timers! This time the fish in the net was certainly no stockie, with broken linear scaling down one of it's long lean flanks so typical of the Oxfordshire strain of carp. This one weighed around 17lbs and was the icing on the cake for Kev's first Manor session.
The rest of the session was unproductive for me but I will return for the odd day this summer chasing after that monster with the cut-tail... Ultimate Carp
This season I decided to have a break from Manor and give myself a challenge on Horton Church Lake. So far the results have been promising, with a lovely mirror coming my way along with tench to 11lbs+ and an 11lb bream. I look forward to giving surface fishing a go down there, although I know it will be a lot tougher than at Manor. However, the Parrot (the ultimate carp!) has been caught a few times off the top and I've heard Shoulders likes the odd mixer, plus those grassies often look well up for a mixer or two so I'll definitely be giving it a go! Horton is like a breath of fresh air compared to Manor, as there's none of the jealousy or bad etiquette that was sometimes found at Manor. Everyone seems friendly and the fish are just awesome. I can see myself spending a lot more time down there over the next few months...
Sam Richards (SamR)
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