Harley Doughty, Summer Sessions
Posted on 7th September 2019 at 14:53
As August comes to an end, we start having to say goodbye to summer for another year. Although we didn’t seem to get a summer with weather as consistent as last year, we did have to endure the hottest UK day on record not too long ago which was followed by a short spell of very high temperatures. Needless to say, these conditions are not ideal for carp as oxygen levels are low and the pressure is extremely high.
My year got off to a good start as you will know if you have read my previous blogs. I fished some local day ticket waters through the early spring period while I waited for the new season to start on membership in my local area. June 14th came and I headed to my local tackle shop to get my ticket, now I had been thinking of targeting a lake very close to my home which holds a few amazing carp, but as the year has gone on and with work commitments, I came to the conclusion that it wouldn’t be possible for me to consistently put time and effort into this water and that is essential for this type of low stocked venue so, unfortunately, that has been put on the back burner. However, I have managed to re-visit some other lakes on the ticket that I haven't fished in probably around 10 years, so I was excited to see how things had changed.
The first session out was to an old ballast pit which after digging had stopped many years ago, was filled and stocked with some lovely looking fish, a lot of them are mirrors too. Crystal clear water with a fair amount of weed and lily pads means that the fish in here are a very nice dark colour. This was a lake I used to know very well as most of my weekends as a teenager were spent on those banks and hauls of 40 carp in 24 hour session where quite a regular thing for me and a friend. But, as the lake has matured the fish have not only got bigger but a lot wiser and now 5+ fish in a 24 hour was pretty good going. I turned up to the lake and was immediately greeted with this wonderful lake and a lot of good memories so it's safe to say I was very eager to wet a line. As this was once a working pit it runs parallel to an active train line so the whole back of the lake is inaccessible so I headed round to one of the last swims on the left hand side and dropped into a swim known as the point. This always was a good swim as it gives you the option of fishing to the bushes that run down to the back of the lake and this is one of the only swims that you can fish this area of the lake.
I wasted no time in getting some mixas out as the sun rose for what looked to be a lovely hot day. I started to get a rod sorted for fishing on the bottom, I chose to use a helicopter system to hopefully ensure my bait would be presented well in the low-lying silt and weed with my ever faithful blowout rig that would have a 16mm VNX+ wafter mounted to it. The rig went out and as I felt it down I got a soft drop as the lead touched down but it was a clear drop so I knew it hadn't caught any stray weed on the way down. The rod had been out for about 5 minutes when I saw a couple of fish cruising on the surface about 10ft out, they slowly started to drift towards the area where I had been putting mixas so I started to set up a simple freeline rig on my other rod, 12lb mainline straight through to a size 8 Korda mixa hook to which I would mount a whittled down VNX+ pop up to imitate the mixa freebies. 10 minutes later and a few casts to patches on mixas where fish were taking and I was back into a carp from this wicked lake. It gave a good account for itself as they usually do here and as it rose to the surface I slid the net under my returning prize and what a fish it was for my first session back, 19lb 12oz and in really good condition.
Now I have done a lot of surface fishing in my years fishing and it's my favourite way of catching fish and whilst doing so I have tried an array of different hookbaits. I started out drilling mixas out and attaching them to an extremely tight hair, which can work but you will find that the mixas will take on water very fast when drilled out and you find yourself constantly re-baiting and it can really affect the effectiveness of this method, so I then switched to pop ups that I whittle down to mixa shapes, but then I found that I couldn't cut too much off the popups because the weight of the hook would make it sit just that little bit too low and was un-natural and after watching fish under the rod tip come up to take the bait they would quickly know something wasn’t right and eject the bait.
When I got the VNX+ pop ups through in my order I had to test them straight away to see how they would be. On first glance the colour was good but I knew that it really all came down to how they would sit once they had been trimmed down. I headed to a local little syndicate that I am a member of as I know I can get the fish there feeding on the surface extremely close in but they were not silly fish, I got some fish feeding on the top and I lowered my trimmed pop up in and straight away a carp came up but missed the bait, it circled back around for a 2nd go this time it took the bait, there was absolutely no hesitation or signs that the fish had any idea it was not just like the mixas it had been eating previously and this was revolutionery for my fishing, no more messing about with mixas, no more worrying that the buoyancy of the bait would deteriorate over the session and no more worrying about it sitting naturally in the water.
So, whether you're a keen surface angler or you’re just getting into it, I can’t recommend the Successful Baits pop ups enough. Personally I like the lighter colour ones like the VNX+ to match the mixas, but the brighter bolder colour pop ups would be great for zig fishing so make sure you go check them out, it might make the difference you need for your surface angling.
So my day at the pit had come to an end and with the bright sun and warm weather the fish just seemed to switch off and unfortunately I had no more carp, but I was still made up with that mirror from the morning. The next day I headed to another venue that I fished when I first ever started carp fishing. As I would only be going for a couple of hours I travelled light with just some surface fishing gear and went looking. I quickly found some cruising fish but they looked to be moving about a lot so rather than putting mixas out I just set up with a freelined pop up and cast to fish. It was a bit trickier than I thought it would be but after 20 minutes I was into a fit little mirror of around 7 or 8 pound.
I then moved a couple of swims down as the commotion of playing the fish had moved the others down the lake, but I managed to find some fish sitting tight to a reed bed. This time I would need to tempt them into feeding as they were sitting still enjoying the sun, so the mixas went out and it wasn’t long before they were taking them. I saw one fish in the group which looked to be a bit bigger so I started to spread the mixas about when putting them in to try and draw them apart to make it easier to target that individual fish, and after 15 minutes of doing so I had my chance. The rig went out just past the fish and I drew it back slowly, without hesitation it came up took my pop up and I was into my second of the day. Another great fight and in the net it went, this time a low double common with a huge head and plump belly, but it was the colour I was most impressed with on this one, real dark along the back and a deep golden belly.
So that was the end of my day and I was pleased to get fish on my first session back here too. Unfortunately I haven't been able to get out on the bank as much as I would of liked this year so, when I have had the time, I have chosen to fish easier waters as I haven't been able to campaign a harder water for bigguns.
I had a very pleasant surprise last week when on a trip to a river with a friend, but I'll save that story for another day so keep an eye out for my next blog as it will be featuring something very special for me.
Hope you all enjoy the last bit of our summer and if you’re heading out for some surface fishing make sure you have some Successful Baits pop ups on you!!
Tagged as: Harley Doughty
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