Inside the mind of Dave Lane – Q & A Interview

Exclusive question and answer interview with carp fishing legend Dave Lane for the Fishtec blog! An insight into carp captures, Laney’s formative years and of course barbecuing…
Q. In terms of getting into angling, where and when did it all begin for you?

DL: My earliest memory of angling was a bit of fluff chucking on a river on the South Coast.

My Great aunt was trying to teach me the basics, even though there were no trout in there and, to be fair, probably no fish whatsoever.

After that my Dad, used to take me fishing for Perch at a little lake in Sussex and, occasionally, down to the South Coast where we learnt to beach fish together; although most of his time was spent in the nearby pub I think. He used to ‘pop-out’ for sandwiches and be gone a very long time.

I remember one weekend we turned up at Worthing beach and there was a competition on so we couldn’t fish unless we entered. Just for ease and to save the drive to another beach my Dad paid the entrance fee and I won my section with single sole of about 2lb.

I won £4 and a new reel for that fish and I was as proud as punch.

My carp fishing began at about the same time really, which would have been the mid-seventies I guess.

Me and my mates used to fish for wildies with floating crust and float fished bread flake.

I remember my first ever carp was also on a session with my Dad and he had rigged up a string of building site lamps and a generator so that we could do our first night on the bank.

I had a big old lump of crust cast into the middle of a set of lily pads and, at some stage in the morning, the old Intrepid reel started to spin and I eventually battled a huge common carp of two and a half pounds into the knotted string net.

I muddled along for a few years, inventing different bits of tackle and the most amazing rigs as I went; I even dabbled in bait a little and had a very successful ‘Special’ made from sausage meat and ‘Layers Mash’ chicken feed.

I have no idea what year ‘Carp Fever’ was first published but that book, along with George Sharman’s ‘Carp and the Carp Angler’ taught me a lot and pretty much changed my whole thinking and, I suppose, set me on the path I still follow today.

Dave Lane with 'Colin' the Carp.

Dave Lane with ‘Colin’ the Carp.

Q. You recently captured Colin on St Ives – your eighth 50lb plus UK fish from as many venues! It must be one hell of a buzz when all the hard work paid off for you. Over the years, out of these eight captures which one would you say has given you the most satisfaction?

DL: This is a question I get asked a lot and I find it almost impossible to pin down one specific fish as best of the bunch.

A lot of these huge carp have come as the result of an all-out assault which has created so many memories and formed large chapters of my life.

To pick one would do a disservice to the others but, if I had to choose for some mad reason then I suppose the Black Mirror would probably take the title.

I had around seven years of sporadic fishing on the Mere and the sheer level of heartache, pain, discomfort and grief that I endured before that most iconic of carp lay beaten in my net would have to make this the standout capture of my life.

Laney with the Black Mirror.

Laney with the Black Mirror.

Q. What would you say has been the biggest change in the Carp angling scene over your career so far?

DL: Unfortunately, as I read this question, the first thing that popped into my mind was a negative.

I think that the ‘good old days’ were exactly that, good because they were so much more fun and that is mainly down to the element of seriousness that seems to have invaded our sport.

Back ‘in the day’ we just fished for fun and every capture instigated a party to celebrate it, every trip was an adventure and we all seemed to be a closer and crazier bunch back then.

If I look back on some of the mad nights we had on the bank it seems as if we were re-living (or extending) our childhoods, nobody seemed to care about the example we were setting because the lack of social media and ‘reporting’ from the bank meant that we were truly alone in the wilderness; misbehaving and generally having a rare old time, I do miss those days.

In saying that, however, anyone that knows me on a personal level will probably be saying “so what’s changed then” as I do still like to have a laugh and a joke and I enjoy my angling immensely.

Q. What would you say your trademark style of carp angling is?

DL: My trademark style of angling would probably be termed ‘manic’ as I am the most impatient angler on the planet and I cannot sit still for five minutes.

I always think that the grass is greener around the next corner and the carp will be feeding like mad in the next bay or at the other end of the lake.

I move far too much, I walk for miles when there is no reason to and I am never actually one hundred percent satisfied with anything.

Just the other day I walked the banks of a huge lake for eleven hours before deciding on a swim and I was packed up and moved out again just after first light the following morning!

Q. What is your favourite venue of all time, and why?

DL: This is almost as hard to answer as the favourite fish question.

All of the big lakes would have to be in the mix here, Sonning, Wraysbury, Burghfield, Brogborough; they all hold a special place in my heart.

I love the larger type of pits and the special relationship that they have with me, the interaction of such a large piece of land and water and the mystery and intrigue that exudes from them.

Again though, if I was forced to pick one, then I suppose I would choose Wraysbury as it was the first of the massive lakes I fished and we made a lasting impact on each other.

Together with a couple of mates we dug and cut swims and paths, we named most of the swims that still hold those titles today, we caught those elusive Wraysbury carp and we celebrated around huge bonfires in the evenings.

I lived out a significant portion of my life on those hallowed banks and I will never forget my time spent there, it was a truly amazing lake.

Dave Lane with Mary - The Wraysbury legend.

Dave Lane with Mary – The Wraysbury legend.

Q. If you had to stop carp fishing tomorrow, and target another species, what would it be?

DL: Well it certainly wouldn’t be trout, I have never understood why anyone would want to fish for a species that are so stupid that you need to invent a million rules to make them harder to catch; a tub of maggots or worms and you could bag every fish in the lake in no time at all!

Wild salmon must be quite a buzz I suppose; I have never tried that and the idea does appeal to me.

Pike fishing I have done to quite an extend in my youth and I used to love the thrill of the unknown as the line peeled off the spool into a still and mist enshrouded morning.

Tench were always my passion although the lack of individuality would probably bore me nowadays.

Sailfish; I have tried a bit of that and it was amazing, never again could I say that a carp can truly fight, at least not in any way comparable to a big sail.

Big Perch would probably be my final choice, however, as I just love the ancient and predatory look of them; a truly English species that would take me right back to where I started.

Dave Lane once dabbled in pike angling - in 1974 it was OK to eat them!

Laney once dabbled in pike angling – in 1974 it was OK to eat them!

Q. What item of tackle would you never be without?

DL: Can I say a rod, or actually a hook, as I could make a rod out of a willow branch and have done a few times in the past.

I used to catch roach from the cut behind Harefield on a piece of branch and old discarded line and hooks we found in the trees, mind you we did have to scrounge a pocket full of maggots of the float anglers first.

Seriously though, I have no idea whatsoever as every piece of tackle plays an important part and without just one it all starts to fall apart.

I don’t really have keep-sake type items as I have to test tackle as part of my job and I have swapped everything so many times that I no longer have any items of personal importance.

Q. What is your no.1 BBQ cookery tip?

DL: Don’t cook too early, everyone is always in a mad rush to get the food on the coals and it just destroys it, turning it to charcoal on the outside and barely even warming up the bit in the middle.

A barbeque is often just perfect as the last cremated sausage gets consumed.

Wait until the coals are grey and just starting to lose their heat, that’s when to add the food.

If you find you have nothing much to do while you are waiting, I always find a nice chilled Old Speckled Hen helps to pass the time of day.

Q. What is the best piece of advice you can give to anybody looking to specifically target a big carp from a venue?

DL: Set out to catch them all, it’s the best way to get the one you want as big carp are often aggressive feeders and they will not want to miss out if everything else is feeding.

Create a situation, either with bait or location, where you can catch regularly and that one big one will always come along in the end.

Remember to catch up with the Dave Lane video diaries here!

10 Carp Fishing Sunset Shots

Dave Lane - Sunset fishing.

Dave Lane – Sunset fishing.

We recently posted up a sunset image image taken by Dave Lane from the banks of a carp lake (see image above). It proved so popular that we soon had lots of our facebook page followers posting their own awe inspiring fishing sunset shots. The images were so good we decided to pick out our top 10 from the Fishtec Coarse facebook page and share them here. Enjoy….

John Radford -Sunset shot.

John Radford -Sunset shot.

Jay Jack-Daniel Allen Archipelago Lakes... France... heaven..

Jay Jack-Daniel Allen – Archipelago Lakes, France. Heaven…

Graham Moore Chequertree fishery, Bethersden Kent.

Graham Moore Chequertree fishery, Bethersden Kent.

Barry Blenkey - lovely lake shot.

Barry Blenkey – lovely lake shot.

Armo Armzee - superb 'rods at the ready' shot

Armo Armzee – superb ‘rods at the ready’ pic.

Stuart Waters - rods all set at dusk

Stuart Waters – rods all set at dusk.

Stephen Godwin Horcott Lakes

Stephen Godwin – Horcott Lakes.

Dan Hayward - What an amazing sunset!

Dan Hayward – What an amazing sunset!

Trevor Edwards

Trevor Edwards.

Tony Jennings - Monks lake Steeplehurst

Tony Jennings – Monks lake Steeplehurst.

 

Fishing in France -The Beausoleil Carp & Catfish Experience

Well it was that time of year again and a carp fishing holiday to France was just around the corner; with a just week to go it was time to double check the fishing tackle and get everything ready for the trip to France, including checking essentials like a GB magnet for the car, alcohol tester, headlight deflectors and hi-viz vest – all these are a legal requirement when traveling to France, so make sure you bring them!

The week had just flown by and the car was packed to the brim with all the fishing gear needed. Our route was via Portsmouth to Caen, with a 125-mile drive to our destination, a lake called Beausoleil, near a small town of Le Pertre which was in the Mayenne region of France.

Beausoleil Lake in the stunning French countryside.

Beausoleil Lake in the stunning French countryside.

After a long journey through lovely French countryside, myself and fishing pal Bo’ arrived at the lake. We were met by the owners Matt and Ren who welcomed us to the venue and showed us into the house.

The house at Beausoleil lake

The house at Beausoleil lake.

After Ren’s quick tour of the accommodation,  Matt took us on a visit round the lake. We started from points A, B and C and worked our way around the water. It was a really helpful tour, as Matt talked us through each swim and all their features. It’s always good to keep your eyes peeled on the walk around a new venue and make notes of what you see as this can lead to banked fish. On the tour I spotted a few feeding fish about forty yards in front of the dam end of the lake. When we walked over the bridge to the island we spooked a lot of big carp that were in the shallows, in front of the home swim and another mental note was made!

Beausoleil Lake Map

Beausoleil Lake Map.

We headed back to the house to be faced with the task of unloading the car and putting everything ready for the start on Sunday morning as we had decided to just chill out with some food and a few beers for the first night followed by a few games of pool as there was a cracking table on site.

Sunday morning was here and we got some breakfast and a coffee before going to the swims to set up for the week, Bo had decided to fish from the big double swim so I had decided to fish from point B and this also gave me the option of putting a rod in point A and C if I wanted too.

Bo's Large double swim

Bo’s Large double swim.

So we got on with the set up and made sure everything was ready for the week, I had put one rod out and moved it around a few times just to try and pick up an early fish from a random spot, until I had sorted the main areas I wanted to fish.

Bo’s rods were out and he was waiting for his first take – he didn’t have to wait long as his middle rod which was placed on a hard spot in the middle of the lake took off, and he was in. I think this rod had only been out about forty minutes and he was playing a lump, it was a catfish and it was giving him a good battle. He did have a dedicated catfish rod but as you have guessed, it never goes to plan and it was on his TF Gear 2.75 test curve carp rod!

He played the cat for about thirty minutes and couldn’t believe his eye’s as the fish just came up like a submarine and he managed to slip the net under her, he was over the moon as his PB cat before this one was about 13lb. I was on my way round to help him weigh the fish, which was 74lb – 6oz and it was now time for some pictures of the beast before slipping her back in to the lake. This was a good start and hopefully plenty more to come.

Bo's 74lb-6oz catfish

Bo’s 74lb-6oz catfish.

I finally got back to my swim and finished getting everything set up, before casting out I decided to have a quick chuck around with the FishSpy underwater camera and found some really good areas despite the murky water. The first area I found was a nice clear gravel spot tight to the island under an over hang which was for my middle rod, the second spot I found was for the catfish rod and this was a soft silty area on the far bank to the left of catfish corner for my left rod, the third spot was in the shallows to my right where I didn’t need to do any marker work. This rod was going to fish a chod rig, as I had already seen fish crashing in this area so I knew where the bait was going.

I started to bait up these spots, beginning with the island and decided to use a mix of the two boilies I had with me cranberry and trigga blue in sizes 16mm, 18mm and 20mm, I also used some particles which were mixed seeds and maize. Then I moved on to the catfish spot, which was baited up with mixed pellets from halibut to shrimp and krill in sizes 12mm to 22mm I also added in some of the boilies as well. The last one will be the shallow bay to my right and all I would do to start with was scatter about eighty of the two types of boilies over a large area just to keep the carp there and keep them confident and feeding; the areas were now ready and all they needed now were the rigs.

My first rod out was the chod rig with a very buoyant 20mm cranberry pop up which had been in the dip for around three weeks.

Next up was the island spot and I used a running rig system which I will explain about a bit later on, hook length was a ten inch Korda N-Trap semi stiff 30lb link in gravel with a Korda krank size 4 hook, I had taken back about two inches of the coating at the hook end to allow the bait to move freely. Bait used on this one was the Trigga Blue bottom bait in 18mm and this was taken out in the bait boat along with a mix of boilies, mixed seed and maize as I wanted this one tight to the island under the overhang of a tree.

Then finally the catfish rod, again with a running rig system and I used ten inches of Kryston Ton-up with a Cox & Rawle Chinu size 1/0 hook, attached to this were four boilies 2x 20mm cranberry and 2x 20mm trigga blue. I also put this out with the bait boat with a mix of pellets and boilies, I also used the TF Gear long handled baiting spoon to spread some more of the same baits over a larger area to try and attract the catfish in.

The running rig set up was a cog system but with a twist as I had the cog flat distance three ounce lead with the cog attachment number 4 which is for the three ounce flat pear lead. First of all, put the tubing on which is a metre of Nash cling on tungsten tubing and then the lead, followed by the Korda run rig rubber and then tied on a Korda cog system no.4 which I would then attach a hooklength to. The twist was that it was a running rig cog system which works like a dream, but for this lake you had to lightly push the swivel into the rubber on the lead other wise these fish would use the lead to dump the hook and get away without you even knowing about it. With the lead pushed in lightly it meant that the first shake from the fish dropped the lead and then straight to free running and the fish wouldn’t know what to do so bolted every time.

My swim - ready for action.

My swim – ready for action.

All the rods set and ready for a take, so it was time to sit back relax and take in all the surroundings. A few hours passed and at 9.20pm on the Sunday I had a screaming take on the right hand rod as the line just peeled of the spool, I lifted the rod and I was into a hard fighting fish, the fight went on for about fifteen or twenty minutes and the carp finally surfaced, I managed to slip the net under her and she was mine. I looked into the net and couldn’t believe my eye as I knew I had a new PB, after weighing the fish I was ecstatic as my first fish banked weighed in at 37lb-02oz and now it was time for some pictures before I slipped her back to the depths of the lake, then put the rod back out for another fish.

37lb 2oz

Simon with cracking 37lb 2oz mirror.

Time for a brew as all the excitement was over for now, I thought I would pass some time by tying a couple of new rigs and nodded off in the chair. I was woken by another screaming take again on the right hand rod at 12.40am early hours of Monday morning, I was into another hard fighting fish but unfortunately a few minutes into the fight and the hook pulled, I was gutted so checked everything on the rig and all seemed fine, so before putting the rod back out I sharpened the hook again and put a fresh bait on. I also spread another eighty baits back in the area before bedding down for the night.

Monday morning was here and I was woken at 7.15am by another one toner, again the line was just ripping off the spool and I scrambled out of the sleeping bag lifted the rod, once again was into yet another hard fighting fish, after about fifteen minutes I had the fish in front of me and it was just moving from left to right keeping deep but after another five minutes the carp surfaced took a gulp of air and was ready for netting. I looked at another lump but not quite as big as the first one but still a thirty as she went 32lb-14oz, all the fish so far had fallen to the chod rig with a 20mm cranberry pop up and I was over the moon because I had three takes in the first night so was looking forward to an awesome week.

32lb 14oz - nice wake up call at 7.15am!!

32lb 14oz – nice wake up call at 7.15am!!

It’s been a lovely sunny day and I’ve seen a few fish moving but nothing on the bank, evening was here and the rods are out so time to sit back and wait for a bite. It was about 10pm and I had a few beeps on the catfish rod so thought I would take a closer look and nothing happened again, so I went back to the bivvy. Another forty minutes passed by and the alarm started beeping again and line slowly started coming off the spool this time so I lifted into the fish and the rod doubled over, I was into a large catfish which started to move very quickly to my right but I only had the catfish on for about ten minutes and the hook pulled, I was gutted and couldn’t work out why the hook wasn’t set properly, so could only put the rod back out to try and get another take from a cat.

Essential fish care gear.

Essential fish care gear.

Nothing else happened that night, Tuesday morning arrived so it was time to wind the rods in and go for some breakfast then to the supermarket to get some supplies for the rest of the week. We got back for about mid day and put the rods out for a few hours before going to sort food for the evening, the rods had been out for a couple of hours or so and the right hand rod took off again – I was into yet another fish with a right battle on my hands. The fish was trying to get to the oxygen pump that was in the lake but I managed to stop the fish from getting to it, the fish was now in front of me just moving from left to right again just holding bottom and I couldn’t get the fish to the surface, the fish then started to move hard to the right so I put some side strain on and the hook pulled. This was the second hook pull on the chod rig so it was time to think of something else because I didn’t want this to happen again!

Before I put the rod back out it was time to sort a new rig out and I decided to use the cog running rig with a hinge stiff link for my hook length, the hinged stiff link was made up from a six-inch section of Korda N-trap semi stiff in 30lb and a three to four inch chod link with a size four chod hook, I used some putty on the ring below the swivel of the chod link to keep the boilie from lifting to far off the lakebed as I only wanted it three to four inches off. All ready to go back out but it was time for the evening meal and a few beers then back to it.

I was back at the swim after food and had put all the rods out for the night, with all traps ready to try and trip up another fish it was time to make some more hinged stiff rigs for back up and then chill out for a bit before bedding down for the night. Wednesday was here and everything was really quiet through the night, not even a single beep from the alarms so time to change the baits on each rod and get them back out for a few hours before breakfast. Whilst sitting and watching the lake the fish looked like they were starting to get ready for spawning as the water temperature was about right, also some movement about thirty to forty foot out in front of the island caught my attention, it was the tail of a catfish popping out of the water and the fish must have been feeding so I made a note of this one so I could put a bait there later in the day. Time had come for breakfast so I headed over to the house to meet Bo and we got started with it, we chilled out for a few hours at the house to rest the swims as it’s good to keep the rods out of the water from time to time, especially on a pressured venue.

Tranquility in the French countryside.

Tranquility in the French countryside – perfect place to chill.

Later that afternoon after resuming fishing I was just about to get up off my chair and wind the rods in for evening grub when my alarms started beeping and swinger slowly started moving up. This was the rod I put out for the catfish I had seen this morning-  the line started pulling off the reel so I lifted in to it, the rod doubled over I felt a head shake from the fish and it just turned and made off with about eighty yards of line across the lake.

There was no stopping this fish as it was not happy at all, it made about four to five unstoppable runs and at one point tried getting behind the island but with a lot of side strain and Bo getting out in the boat to slap the surface of the water with an oar, I managed to turn the fish.  This battle went on for about forty minutes and the fish still had lots to give, we tried netting the fish a couple of times but the fish was keeping her tail down which made it really awkward to do. In the end Bo gave up with the net, and simply grabbed the bottom of her mouth and held on tight! I got the mat sorted and we both pulled the fish up onto the mat. This was another big cat but I wasn’t sure if it was a new PB for me, after weighing the fish she went 73lb–12oz just slightly smaller than Bo’s cat and as I had guessed not a new PB for me this time but still a lump of a fish, I was really happy with the result! After some pictures of her and also getting wet for some water shots, she went back to the depths to fight another day.

73lb 12oz catfish water shot

73lb 12oz catfish – water shot.

That evening I changed two rods around and put the catfish rod in the middle of the lake and took the one off the island to put half way between my swim and catfish corner, about twelve foot off the bank as I had seen a carp top there when I got back to the swim. With all the rods set just as the light had gone it was time to just sit back and wait for another take.

There was no action until I was woken by a screaming run early hours of Thursday morning about 4am, I lifted the rod into a fish which fought hard from the off. The fight went on for about twenty-five minutes; the fish surfaced so I took my chance and netted the carp. I weighed the fish which went 28lb on the nose, not the biggest fish of the trip but a stunning looking specimen, one which Matt had named Dark Night.

Dark Knight at 28lb

Dark Knight at 28lb.

Nothing happened through Thursday at all, but I was woken early hours of Friday morning at about 3.15am to a screaming alarm, the right rod was off again. This fish didn’t seem to be fighting very hard to start with but five minutes into the battle the fish soon woke up eventually the carp was in the net; I had bagged myself another thirty going 33lb on the nose. This fish was taken on the new rig I had tied to replace the chod rig, the fish was nailed in the bottom lip so I was well happy with that. After a few pictures I put the carp back and had a quick cuppa with Bo before going back to bed for a few hours.

33lb cracker at 3.15am

33lb cracker at 3.15am.

Well Friday passed and Saturday morning came around too quickly with no more fish for Bo or myself. It was finally time to tackle the rods down and get the car packed ready for the journey home to the UK, Matt and Ren turned up about 9.30am, we sat down with them to go through all the pictures we had and chatted over a cuppa before we had to say our good byes.

All I can say is what an awesome venue with quality fish which is well looked after and what a lovely couple to be the hosts, you really couldn’t ask for anything more. This will definitely be one venue I will be visiting in the near future and one I would recommend to others.

For information on carp fishing Beausoleil visit their website here.

Bo, Ren, Matt and Myself - what a trip!

Bo, Ren, Matt and Myself – what a trip!

Dave Lane on Cameras – Improve your self take photos!

I probably get asked as many questions about cameras as I do about fishing nowadays. I suppose that I normally have a remote in my hand in most of my trophy shots and a lot of people would like to improve their self-photography as this is the main subject of the inquiries.

The reason I take so many self-take photos is a mixture of two things really. I do often fish alone and I much prefer it that way but, even when other anglers are on the lake, I tend to take my own pictures whenever possible.

Firstly I do not like to drag other people away from their fishing, particularly not at the main bite times, which is generally when you have a fish to photograph. If another angler has to reel in his rods to help me deal with a fish then I always think that I am depriving him the chance of a carp himself, which hardly seems fair.

Also, there are actually only a handful of people that I would trust to take shots that a fussy git like me will be happy with. This is not a slur on others photographic skills it is just that, once the fish has been returned, there is no chance for a second attempt.

Photos are very important to me, I spend a lot of time chasing carp and I like to able to look back and see that magical moment, a sixtieth of a second, frozen forever in time.

Obviously the safety of the fish on the bank is paramount and yes, it is a lot to deal with when you have the camera and the carp to contend with but this is easily solved by forward planning, the correct equipment and a bit of practise without a real live fish in the equation.

All of this goes out of the window if I get a really huge fish, a target I have been hunting, a personal best or anything that really blows me away because, just like everyone else, I still get a bit flustered at the sight of a really special fish and then I will enlist some help.

Basically, you need to get into a routine where your camera is acting almost like another angler in the swim (without all the wisecracks) it should be in the perfect position, ready to take a photo at any time and capable of showing you the result without you having to move an inch.

To this ends I would only recommend a camera with a flip screen, one that actually points at you and displays either the picture you have just taken or, even better, has a ‘live view’ function so that you can frame the shot before pressing the fire button.

In the old days we used to have miles of cable for an air shutter release running across the ground but most half decent cameras nowadays either come with a remote or you can purchase one to suit.

Personally I like to use an SLR camera and my model of choice is the Cannon 70D, not a cheap camera by any means but I think it’s worth the outlay.

The previous model, a 60D is also incredibly good and I had one for years up until recently. You can pick up a second hand 60D for around £400 on e-bay, with a lens, which may sound a lot but, in reality, it is about the price of a new bivvy, or a couple of new rods and it will give you excellent results for years to come.

If that is out of the budget then there are ‘bridge camera’s’ like the Canon G series to consider, I used to have a G-3 that gave amazing results and I saw a second hand one on E-Bay for £40 the other day, boxed and complete with leads and a spare battery!

Bridge cameras are a halfway house between a full on SLR and a compact.

Even compact cameras can be bought with ‘flip screens’ now and they are available in every price range.

A tripod is an absolute must have item but fear not, they are ridiculously cheap and I recently upgraded to a taller, telescopic, version for video or camera and it set me back a whopping £14 online.

So, with your kit sorted the next most important thing is composure, where are going to take the photos, and this should be sorted long before you actually catch a fish.

A nice daytime self take

A nice daytime self take.

You need to pick a spot that will either have full shade or full sun, work out where the sun will be at the most likely time you will need to use the camera, pick two spots just in case one has got dappled sunlight in it because this is the absolute ‘kiss of death’ for fish photography.

Full on shade will give a nice, realistic, defined shot of the fish whereas full on sun can sometimes be a bit glary off the carp’s flanks.

Pay special attention to the backdrop, make sure that the skyline is constant and you do not have a quarter of the shot showing bright sky and the rest in shade, as this will confuse the light meter in the camera and darker the foreground, losing you and the fish in shadow.

As with the sun, go for one or the other, either open sky or totally closed background, such as bushes or trees.

For night time photography you will need the latter, an area where the flash will bounce back from, a solid background that is as close as possible to your back or you will end up surrounded by inky blackness.

A good night self take, with a bit of practise.

A good night self take, with a bit of practise.

This will make or break your finished pictures so make sure you have it right, take a look through magazines at some of the more impressive shots, or your own album at your favourite ones and find a common denominator that please your eye. Look at the background of the best ones and see what is similar in each one.

Once you have everything ready, set it all up as if you have a fish and get some practise in, digital photo’s cost nothing and can be deleted at the press of a button.

If you set up the mat, the camera on its tripod, and even a bowl of the water you will need for the fish you can pre-create the exact scenario you are going to be in when the time comes and, this way, there will be no surprises.

Hold a full gallon water bottle and use this as the fish and keep trying until you are totally happy that you have everything framed as you like it, even soak the bottle in water if you are using a flash to see how bad the bounce back is going to be.

Once you are happy with the results then mark them all down.

Take a landing net pole and lay one end in the centre of the mat and mark the distance on the  pole with a piece of tape to show exactly where the centre of the tripod should go, this will always be the same so mark it permanently and you will have one less thing to consider.

If you are using a compact camera then the automatic feature will work out the settings for you but, with an SLR or Bridge camera, you have a lot more options.

Thankfully nearly all of the better cameras will have either one or two custom settings, usually marked as C1 C2 on the control wheel. I like to set one of these up for night shots and one for the daytime but, if there is only one then use it for night time shots as it is hard enough in the dark anyway, without having to change settings. If there are none then use a notebook or a notepad app on your phone.

Every variable should be sorted out in advance, not necessarily every trip but, once you have a winning formula, it can be applied everywhere.

Before you even think about lifting the fish from the water you should have your kit set up, your camera turned on (check the settings to make sure it stays on standby as long as possible) the remote function enabled and the remote sensor in position next to the mat.

Everything set up ready and a fish on the bank

Everything set up ready and a fish on the bank.

Take a trial shot first, just hold up your hand at the width you want include and check the picture for clarity, light, and composure. Make sure you do not have a branch behind you that makes you look like you have a set of antlers, or a gaudy sign stating ‘deep water beware’ make sure you are happy and confident and then retrieve the fish.

Your remote should always be held in the hand that has the head end of the fish as there is a wider area to balance on your hand, the tail end requires a more closed grip and it’s very awkward to work the remote.

Confidence is the key, you know the camera is going to work, you have practised enough times and you know the settings are correct, the only difference to having a photographer there with you is that one little button in your hand.

At night it is often the auto focus that really lets you down and, because of this, I NEVER use this function at night.

Firstly you need to use the landing net pole method to get the exact distance for your focal point, this is best done in the daytime and, once you have the exact focus and length you need to mark the camera lens with two little dots (tippex) one on the actual bit that spins to find focus and one on the fixed part of the lens. When these two dots are in alignment turn off the auto focus on the side of the lens and the camera will always be in focus for the correct distance, which is marked on your pole.

Alternatively, just place a water bottle where the fish will be, shine a bright light on it, and  focus the camera from the tripod and then turn off the auto focus (while the fish is still safely in the net).

Practise makes perfect and you have plenty of time for that whilst waiting for a bite and practise will build the confidence that you need to take perfect self takes every time.

If you’re taking your angling photography further, check out our fishing photography guide for loads more tips and information.

The Secret Diaries of Dave Lane

It’s what we’ve all been waiting for! The fishing has been on fire at the St Ives shallow lake over the past month, but as a tactical move Laney had to keep things quiet –  and boy did it pay off!!

What you are about to see is a 4 part series of ‘secret’ carp fishing blogs, leading up to the capture of Colin, the 52lb 12oz St Ives lakes mega carp in July 2016.

Watch part one here:

Watch part two here:

Watch part three here:

Watch part four here:

Are you a tackle tart? Take the quiz to find out!

dog with heavy fishing barrow

Image source: Fishtec Coarse facebook page
All the gear and… (dog not included)

Are you a tackle tart? Or, do your mates think you are?

Our quiz will reveal your carping personality – take the test!

rods ready

How long do you spend setting up your gear?

DCR Reels

How would you describe your gear?

Not the way to look after your waders!

How often do you clean your tackle?

carp mad tattoo (Image source: pinterest)

Do you have any carping tattoos?

microcat bait boat

How do you get bait out into the swim?

stick bivvy

The tackle shop has two bivvies on display. They look identical apart from the Trakker logo on the one that's £100 more. Which one do you go for?

fish social media

How do you share your catch pictures?

all the gear

How much do you estimate your entire carp gear collection is worth?

Carp On The Fly

Kieron Jenkins of Fulling Mill talks about his summertime passion for catching carp on the fly rod – an adrenaline filled diversion when trout fishing is at it’s worst!  Read on to discover the tackle, tips and tactics Kieron employs for carp fly fishing.

At this time of year it tends to be too hot for traditional fly fishing. Trout often go deep and sulk in the hot weather, but carp on the other hand provide immense sport on the fly! Fly fishing for carp is a sport that has only recently taken off here in the UK and is becoming many anglers favoured quarry.

Most anglers who fly fish for carp in the UK encourage them to eat from the surface, but carp can also be caught on lures and bloodworms when the conditions dictate. Personally, I enjoy the surface action.

Fly fishing for carp in the UK is really taking off!

Fly fishing for carp in the UK is really taking off!

Getting started – What to feed?

Keep it simple – carp absolutely love dog biscuits. Mixers are perfect, they’re fairly large and float well. Most carp lakes are inundated with silver fish that are attracted to smaller baits, so I tend to use mixers to discourage them from attacking the bait – which unfortunately, doesn’t always work! The lovely, meaty smell of the biscuits will drag carp from all over the lake, so it’s worth spending the time to bait up, feeding small but constant amounts of bait into your swim before starting to fish. Be careful not to overfeed, carp will gorge and lose interest quickly – feed little and often. A catapult will come in handy too.

What fishing tackle do I need?

Small carp can fight, but a big one is something else. The power of even a fish 5lb + is immense, be sure to use tackle to cope with fast surges and big runs. I prefer to use a 10ft 8# Airflo Airlite Competition Special, a fly rod that was designed for playing fish hard and to cast heavy sinking lines. The 8# gives you enough back bone to hold the fish hard to stop them running into the snags, as well as great casting performance over long distances.

The power of carp is immense - a great fight on a fly rod!

The power of carp is immense – a great fight on a fly rod!

This year I’ve been using the Airflo Switch Pro Fly Reel, it has an extremely hard drag system that has stopped almost everything I’ve hooked on my local carp water. Carp often take long, hard runs towards cover, so your backing is regularly out of the rod rings! Ensure to use a fly reel that is up to the job.

As far as fly lines go, I was always under the impression that I could use just about anything and get away with it, but since the introduction of the Super-Dri range from Airflo It’s certainly helped me catch more carp on the fly, let alone trout! The higher floating properties of the Super-Dri Lake Pro fly line ensures a quicker lift off, especially at distance, allowing you to set the hook quicker before the carp has time to spit the fly out. They’re notorious for ‘mouthing’ the fly and letting go, so if you can connect quicker, why not? The non-stretch core of these lines allow you to put more pressure on the fish too, hopefully getting them quickly away from snags.

At the business end I like to use a 5ft length of fluorocarbon, attached to a Salmon/Steelhead floating polyleader. The polyleader allows good turn over with chunky flies – a splashy landing can sometimes deter carp that are high in the water. The trout version is too light, I’ve lost many large carp because the polyleader as broken, but the 24lb breaking strain Salmon/Steelhead version is ideal. A simple loop to loop connection is all that is needed to join your tippet.

If the fishing is fast and furious I prefer 10lb Fulling Mill Fluorocarbon, the leader sinks quickly and is extremely strong, allowing you to really clamp up without breakages and pull carp back through some serious snags! Other times carp can be quite fussy, especially in flat calm conditions. Then I prefer to use a lighter breaking strain – the new Airflo Sightfree G4 Fluorocarbon in 8.8lb is superb. Personally I wouldn’t go any lighter than this, but you may find you have to if you don’t get any takes.

As for flies, a dog biscuit imitation is a must. The Close Copy Dog Biscuit, Bonio Carp Fly and the Bread Crust pattern from Fulling Mill are all you will ever need. A fly that closely represents the size and colour of the real thing will always be preferred, so choose your fly wisely.

A dog biscuit imitation fly pattern is a must!

A dog biscuit imitation fly pattern is a must!

Carp on the surface

Once the carp are up and feeding all that’s left to do is to hook one, and land it of course. What I tend to do is sit patiently and spot a fish that is cruising. Carp will sit/swim high in the water if there are numerous biscuits on offer, if you can track a fish and accurately present a fly a few feet in front of it, more than likely it will eat it.

The hardest part about fly fishing for carp is hooking the damn things! They’re cunning creatures and learn very quickly. Carp will often come to the fly a ‘test’ it out, sitting a few inches under the fly, sucking it from the surface. If your line is tight or your leader is floating, the biscuit won’t move and the carp will flee onto the next one. This is where fluorocarbon comes in handy as it’s relatively heavy and sinks. The sunk leader will let the fly get ‘sucked’ into the fish’s mouth.

Once you’ve hooked one, hold on tight and clamp up that drag. More often than not they will head for cover to free the hook. A correctly set drag will save the break offs and give enough stopping power to tire the fish before getting to those roots.

Carp on the fly success!

Carp on the fly success for Kieron!

Finding a carp water can be difficult, many venues don’t mention the fact that they allow fly fishing on their website or facebook pages, so it’s definitely worth a call to your local carp fishing water to ask before turning up…

A quick re-cap to carp on the fly:

  1. Use appropriate fly fishing tackle, there’s nothing worse than being under-gunned.
  2. Cast accurately to feeding carp and try to avoid spooking them.
  3. Play carp firmly and use your kit to its full advantage. Hold them tight and get them to the net quickly.
  4. A selection of carp flies is essential. Change the colours to suit.
  5. Always check with the fishery owner that they are happy for you to fly fish.
  6. You will need an unhooking mat and a decent sized landing net with soft mesh to comply with most carp fisheries rules. Be sure to check this before heading out.
A selection of carp flies is essential.

A selection of carp flies is essential.

Line Angles – Carp Fishing tips from Dave Lane

In his latest tips blog post, Dave Lane shares his years of carp fishing wisdom – How often do you consider line angles and concealment? It could make all the difference to your carp catches!

I think that line awareness is the single most alarming thing to carp, it has far more effect than rigs, leads, bait or any other aspect of our angling that we give carp credit for detecting.

I do not actually believe that a carp can even see a rig as it gets up close, its eyes are in the wrong place to start with and, from what I have seen in observation, most bait items are inspected by feel in the mouth. I think this is why a good rig, or one perfectly suited to the way carp are testing baits, will outscore other presentations. It’s just a case of being able to prick the fish, to get that initial hook hold, before they can eject the rig.

Line angles are something different, this is an early warning system that all is not as it should be. It doesn’t always mean that the carp will not feed, they just do so with the natural caution of an animal that knows it is being hunted, playing the percentages is how I like to think of it.

A free meal is on offer, they know something is dangerous and they feed carefully and methodically to avoid being hooked and, every now and again, they get it wrong.

Sometimes fish seem terrified of lines, particularly when they are in a spot where they seem to have not been expecting them to be.

One day I sat up a tree at Burghfield and watched as a group of fish came in contact with my lines, the result was instant and dramatic and, within seconds, there were no more carp to be seen anywhere.

I have been out in a boat at Wraysbury and actually watched two stockies feeding right up to, but not over, my line as it sat slightly proud of the bottom. They had decimated the bait on one side of the spot and completely left the bait on the other, unwilling to cross the line to achieve yet more free food.

It often amazes me how excited anglers get when they start receiving line bites, as if this is an indication of an imminent take.

To my mind a line bite is either yet another spooked carp or a fair sign that you are simply fishing too far out or badly presented between the rig and the rod tip.

I always try to keep all my line hard on the lake bed but, unfortunately, this is not always possible.

When you are fishing large lakes in adverse weather conditions for example, any slack line just gets dragged out into a big arc and, pretty soon, it rises up into the water anyway.

Fishing near to snags or in a situation whereby you cannot afford to give the carp an inch, this also calls for a tight line and, the worst of the lot, weed. It doesn’t matter how well you think you have sunk your line when fishing over weed, it will either already be on the top of it or, if it isn’t, it will be soon. Even the tiniest filaments of floating weed will accumulate and lift your line towards the surface and, quite often, the angle of line between the edge of the weed and the spot you are fishing is horrendous.

There are things that help, heavy lead core leaders, pinching blobs of putty a meter or so behind the rig, pole fishing leads on the line, flying back leads, they all go some way to alleviating the problem.

Myself I am a great fan of the captive back leads, I use them often to keep a tight line pinned down from the moment I set up the rod, once it’s down there and pinned it is harder, but not impossible, for the weed to lift it back up.

Pinning down the line with captive back leads.

Pinning down the line with captive back leads.

Lines pinned down and ready for action!

Lines pinned down and ready for action!

Attacking a swim from an unusual angle can be a brilliant way of disguising the fact that you are fishing that spot, particularly on pressured waters where the carp are actually checking it out before feeding, sometimes a different angle can also ensure a lower line lay, if you are casting over weed from the main swim but up against it from an alternative plot is a good example.

Gravel bars and plateaus work in the same way as weed, it is far better to actually drape your line over the bar on some occasions than have it exiting the bar halfway down and streaking through the water mid depth.

Fishing the close side of a bar will allow you to sink the line better so, if you want to fish the bottom of the bar at the back, why not cast from a swim on the far bank and have all your line in deep water leading up to the feature.

It’s not always possible on busy waters to actually fish from the wrong swim though, but the more thought you can out into concealing a line, the better your results are likely to be.

Returning a big mirror caught at range with the line totally concealed near the rig.

Returning a big mirror caught at range with the line totally concealed near the rig.

 

New TF Gear Carp Fishing Tackle Videos – with Dave Lane

Earlier this year Dave Lane met up with Marc Coulson, editor of Total Carp Magazine on the banks of the renowned Quarry fishery in Essex. Together the guys shot a full length DVD on targeting big carp, and reviewed a load of TF Gear carp fishing tackle.

In this blog post you can watch 11 awesome carp fishing tackle product videos from the Total Carp Magazine DVD. In these videos Laney and Marc review and explain each and every innovative feature of these products. Trust us, these videos are well worth watching if you are looking for new carp fishing gear!

Watch the YouTube videos in the windows below, or click through to the Fishtec TV YouTube channel.

TF Gear Hardcore Packaway Unhooking Mat – A quality pop-up carp fishing mat that is easy to transport and just the right size for large carp.

TF Gear Hardcore Trail Boots – Waterproof, tough and good looking these Hardcore trail boots are the ideal footwear for a dedicated carp angler.

TF Gear Banshee clothing – Dave Lane talks about the outstanding waterproof and breathable banshee carp fishing clothing by TF Gear.

TF Gear Hardcore Desert Boots – Rugged carp fishing boots from TF Gear. Ideal for trekking through awkward terrain to the water’s edge. Fishing footwear built to last.

TF Gear Flat Out Superking Pillow – A good nights sleep is essential for carp fishing. Here TF Gear have designed a pillow specifically for carp anglers that integrates with your sleeping set up seamlessly.

TF Gear Flat Out Sleeping Bags – A premium carp fishing bag made for comfort and ease of access, this bag is the essential choice of Dave Lane and many other hardcore carp anglers.

TF Gear DL Black Edition Spod Reel – Finally a spodding reel man enough for the job!! Purpose built for spodding, this hardcore spod reel has been built to Dave Lanes demanding specifications.

TF Gear DL Black Edition Speedrunner Reel – The finest carp fishing reel for your money – smooth, powerful, and capable of casting huge distances this baitrunner reel does it all.

TF Gear DL black edition carp rods – The new DL black edition carp fishing rods offer a new benchmark in looks, casting performance and fish playing ability.

TF Gear DL Black edition net – A 42” carp landing net designed by Dave Lane. Quality and performance at a decent price!

TF Gear Chillout sleeping bag – Sleep in comfort with the Chillout sleeping bag! Designed for hardcore carp anglers, this bag is the pinnacle of bivvy comfort.

Baiting up – Carp Fishing tips from Dave Lane

As part of a series of blog posts TF Gear tackle consultant Dave Lane shares his huge experience of carp fishing, staring with some great tips on baiting up! Read on to discover baiting up – the Laney way!

When it comes to baiting up a swim, I think a lot of anglers tend to get too tied up with trying to get every item of bait to land on the exact same spot in the lake, leaving the rest of the swim devoid of attraction for the carp.

Admittedly, I am quite fanatical about the exact spot my hook-bait lands on but I am not quite so obsessive about the free-bait.

Firing out boilies, or indeed spombing them out is something that is always going to lead to stray bait but a lot of the time I am quite happy with this and, as long as the general area is hit, I know I am increasing the amount of attraction in the swim and the bait that falls in areas where it will not get eaten is not detracting anything from the effectiveness of the main spot.

If my hook-bait is on, what I consider to be, the very best spot in the swim then I know that it will get eaten fairly quickly and I do not need every single ounce of bait to be piled up on top of it.

A decent spread of bait will allow more carp to feed at the same time and create a larger area that they can home in on, bringing even more fish to the party.

A nice Burghfield mirror caught from a swim baited with a large spread of boilies

A nice Burghfield mirror caught from a swim baited with a large spread of boilies.

I think that this is where baitboat anglers miss out a lot of the time, presenting just one little pile of bait is, to my mind, fishing for one bite at a time and not really creating much of a feeding response.

If you were baiting in the margins you wouldn’t dream of sticking a kilo of mixed bait on one little tiny spot and dumping your rig right in the middle of it, as you can see straight away that you are defeating the object of the trap by lowering the percentage chances of the hook-bait even getting picked up.

Striving for perfection when casting and baiting is obviously a good thing and I try my hardest to hit the same spot every single time with the spomb but I know that I won’t, I accept this and, should I be having a particularly accurate day, when everything is landing in the same hole, then I will actually add or lessen the clip mark on the reel or aim slightly right or left to increase the spread of bait. Usually though I don’t need to as I am just not that consistent.

Different lake beds demand different approaches of course, if you are fishing on features then you may need that level of accuracy but, as I have said, if you do not think that they fish are feeding in the deeper water around the feature then the odd wayward spomb is not going to pull the fish away from your spot in the slightest, I just count the ones that hit the mark.

I regularly hear anglers cursing out loud every time a spomb sails off target in the wind or a single pouch of boilies doesn’t quite hit the marker float but getting stressed when it is not going quite right is a bit of a recipe for disaster.

I know it can be hard to keep your cool sometimes when it all feels like it is going wrong but the more you get wound up, the worse you actually fish.

We just get stressed and blame our tools instead of taking a deep breath and a cup of tea and then starting again, calmly and patiently.