Dave Lane’s Top 5 ‘Must Have’ Carp Fishing Kit

Dave Lane talks about his top 5 carp fishing essentials – never leave home without them!

1. A good set of Polaroid Sunglasses – these are essential for fish spotting, not only when looking down through the water from trees etc but also when looking out across the water to reduce glare. Location is so important that it would be mad to fish without them. I use grey tinted for really bright sunny days and amber for everything else but, if I had to have just one pair it would definitely be amber.

Dave Lane wearing a good set of polaroids!

Dave Lane wearing a good set of polaroids!

2. Binoculars – I have got right back into using binoculars for my angling. If a fish rolls at range it’s so easy to see if it’s bubbling up or just cruising past. Tiny movements on the surface can be zoomed in on and identified between carp activity and small fish or insects.

3. Tea making equipment – I just cannot function without a regular supply of tea. I recently filmed some footage for Fishtec’s website and, out of the five of us needed for filming I was the only tea-drinker! I just do not understand how people can resist it. I will try anything when my supply gets threatened; building fires form twigs when my gas runs out, drinking black tea when my milk has soured and re-using tea bags. I would even consider milking a nearby cow if I could catch one!

Tea time!!

Tea time!!

4. Good Bait – It sounds obvious but I have to have my little collection of Mainline pop-up’s in the side pocket of my rucksack and at least five kilos of the best boilies I can possibly use (at the moment this is the new Hybrid). I need to know I have a hook-bait for any situation and I even have them in differing buoyancies, sizes, colour and flavours.

5. Decent fishing clothing – I have spent so many years in the past being soaked and cold or too hot and sweating while fishing. I always make sure I have a set of TF Gear waterproofs rolled up small just in case and a decent jacket to keep out the cold, even on a summers night.

Dave Lane ‘Biggun Spots’ Q & A

When you’re fishing for these known big fish, do you literally sit in their known capture swims, even if there are fish showing elsewhere on the lake? Large carp obviously have areas where they spend a lot of time and seem to only get caught from those one or two spots, but do you think that they still travel around the lake but just don’t feed in other areas?

It is very easy to fall into the trap of fishing as others have done in the past; in fact I know I have done this on more than one occasion and sometimes suffered as a result.

For instance, if a fish is reputed to have a liking for tiger nuts instead of the usual boilie approach then every angler on the lake will, at some stage, use tigers, even if it just on one rod. Suddenly you have a scenario whereby thirty, forty or even fifty percent of the hook-baits on offer are tigers, and the chances of that fish getting caught on a tiger have just gone through the roof.

If nobody used tigers then it would have to get caught on something else, because it would get caught, they all do eventually.

The same situation arises with areas as it does with bait, those highlighted areas from previous captures tend to get more attention than the rest of the lake, more rod hours equals more chance of a result and more chance of perpetuating the myths surrounding one particular carp.

Putting back the Burghfield Common after ‘doing it all wrong’

Putting back the Burghfield Common after ‘doing it all wrong’

The other way of looking at it is that there is a reason and a truth behind the mythology, that one big carp really does only feed on the shallows, really doesn’t like boilies or does only gets caught on a full moon, but why?

Every carp must feed regularly to stay alive and it could be argued that the bigger fish need a greater amount of food to maintain their weight, so what happens the rest of the time, they feed elsewhere of course and on other things.

Certainly, I believe that a carp will use almost every part of the lake, regardless of where it is most often caught. Maybe, in the other areas it has regular food supply that does not include angler’s baits. There may be natural larders that it always visits on these sojourns away from its catchable areas. There may also be areas where a carp will go regularly with no intention of feeding whatsoever, in fact the big Common at Burghfield seems to have one of these. It is an area where it has been seen a lot but never seen to feed and certainly never on bait of any description, more like a safe area, or sunbathing spot.

To think that a carp only feeds in the spots where it is caught and at the times of year of previous captures is madness.

If it was as easy as to cast under Basil’s bush on a full moon with a yellow pop-up then that particular fish would get caught once a month, the swim would be booked in advance, the poor creature would not only be labelled a ‘mug’ but he would starve to death over the ensuing three and a half weeks.

There is always more to a situation than it first appears, if not carp fishing would be simply carp catching, and as boring as hell.

A carp is a living creature with free will and this is what makes our sport so much more interesting, challenging and ultimately rewarding than most other pursuits; the rules are constantly changing and nothing is totally impossible.

All information about a target fish is good information, it has been correlated over years by capable anglers taking notes about their own particular observations, and most of it will be true and valid. I think though, you need to add your own observations into the mix rather than blindly follow a script.

When I caught the Burghfield Common it went against all the preconceived ideas of where and how that fish would feed.

There was a folklore surrounding him that said it would never get caught in the open water areas of the lake and it would always be a loner or feed with a small band of select ‘friends’ but never with the bulk of the fish.

In fact the exact rumour was that “if you are catching carp then the next bite will never be the common”.

Well, I had it from the open water area as the second bite of a six fish catch so it’s a good job that I ignored the legend on that particular occasion.

Dave Lane Spring Carping Q & A

What areas do you target as the light levels begin to increase? Do you look in snaggy areas where the carp may go to rub up against the sunken branches to remove leeches accumulated during the winter, or maybe shallow areas that catch the sun and warm up quickest? Where do you think we should be looking for our quarry to get that early spring action?

Spring carping

Spring carping in all its glory….

The best thing about that transition period between winter and spring is that the entire lake comes back into play. Areas where the carp have not been for months will suddenly become viable areas to fish and, much more than just viable, they can be the most likely spots to get bites.

A prime example of this is the shallowest parts of the lake, particularly if they receive a decent amount of sunlight and not a lot of wind. These are areas that warm up a lot quicker with a few hours sunlight on them and the fish, when they re-visit their old haunts, always seem to be infinitely more catchable.

To my mind, fish in an area where you wouldn’t expect them to be, whether in spring or even in the middle of winter, have only gone their because they either feel more comfortable or they are expecting to find easily accessible food. Either way, a well-placed trap usually gets a rapid result although it’s not a situation where I would invest too much in the way of bait. A lot of my fishing in the early spring is with single pop-ups or just a handful of free offerings as I feel that the carp will, invariably, move back off these areas just as quickly as they arrived.

Reeds and snags can be good areas although snags, to me, are more of a safe haven at any time of the year whereas reeds are often warmer and shallower and a great place to find fish in the early part of spring.

Monks Pit has a large bed of reeds in one corner where fish will stay right through the winter. Generally, it is the smaller fish but, as the light levels increase, the bigger fish will also leave the deeper water and visit this area far more often and some big hits can be had on the right day.

I am sure that heat from the sun is transmitted down through the reeds and huge beds of Norfolk reed can create the perfect environment for carp at this time of year.

Dave Lane On Silt

Dave Lane’s no-nonsense approach for effective carp fishing over silted areas….

I suppose a lot of today’s carp anglers have started off their fishing on silt bottomed lakes, most smaller ponds and fisheries, especially the natural old lakes, will be sited up through time.
I know all of my early fishing was on either Estate lakes or ponds surrounded by trees and, usually, fed by an inlet stream of some sort. Both of these things will contribute towards a build-up of silt.

Back in the early days we didn’t really think about a lot, we just cast out and caught fish, there were no fancy carp rigs and the question of where your bait ended up in relation the silt never raised its head.

Most of the rigs cast out in the seventies and eighties, by me at least, involved a basic nylon hook-link of about ten inches and a lead somewhere between one, and one and a half ounces which, bizarrely enough, is the exact rig I would now advocate for fishing in deep silt.

We certainly never considered methods to stop the hook-baits sinking into the silt, such as pop-up’s because, after all, that was surely where the free offering ended up?

Such a simple philosophy and one born, I suppose, through lack of outside influence but like I say, still something that I firmly believe all these many years later.

The food does not sit up nicely on top of the silt so why on earth should you want your hook-bait to do so.

All the interim years spent mucking about with helicopter rigs, paternosters, slow sinking leads (made from a float wrapped in fuse wire) and various other balancing devices were, in hindsight, a waste of time really. None of the afore mentioned ‘developments’ ever caught me more carp than a standard nylon hook-link and a bottom bait when fishing soft bottomed lakes.

I will admit that the addition of a very small PVA bag of crumbed baits has slipped into my armoury on occasions but, this is due more to the want to add smell to the area than by a need to keep the bait aloft.

I don’t want to give the impression that I am happy to just chuck a basic rig into any old smelly silt filled ditch and feel confident because that is really not the case at all; there are many different types of silt ranging from clean and barely settled ‘soup’ to hard packed detritus of the ages.

If I look back at the history of some of the siltier places I have fished it is amazing just how much they have changed over the years and the sheer depth of the silt that has collected there.

I recently fished for a winter on particular Estate lake where the average depth is about three feet and, whilst there, I got chatting to a guy who had fished the lake a decade or more prior to my visit and he assured me that is was closer to ten feet deep back then.

Now that is a lot of silt but when you look at the way the lake is fed and the depth variations throughout the year you can see just how this has happened.

There is a small steam at one end that runs through a dam wall into the lake, most of the year this is either dry or just a mere trickle but, during the winter and spring, it can turn into a raging torrent. Not only does it empty the contents of the stream bed into the lake but the stream itself is fed by the run off from the surrounding fields and the water is the colour of chocolate as it pours into the lake.

So much water comes in at one go that the level of the lake can rise two feet over night and that is a lot of suspended particles to add to the silt. By the time the water floods out of the other end it is much cleaner and a lot lighter, having dropped its payload of new silt as it travels along the lake.

Year in year out, three or four times each winter, spring and probably autumn, it doesn’t take long for the build up to accumulate and the lake to lose another foot of depth.

For a while I did muck about with various pop-up and balanced presentations but, in the end, I cut the whole lot off and fished all my rods on nylon rigs, bottom baits and tiny little bags of crumb, just to add a bit of smell. I caught plenty that winter, multiple catches on some occasions, and all from below the top layer of silt.

Not all silt is nice though and I am sure that a lot of areas are not favoured by the carp because of the ‘wrong type’ of silt. Nobody likes to retrieve their leads and rigs to find them covered in stinking black ooze and, I must admit, I have never knowingly caught from these obnoxious smelling areas.

Silt that has arrived via an inlet is probably going to be cleaner than silt that has occurred through a rotting process that has taken years of decay and trapped a lot of gasses during the process.

Try dragging a heavy ball or square lead through the silt to investigate which kind you have and avoid the disgusting black smelly stuff. A FishSpy camera float is also a good way of taking a real-time look at just what you are fishing over.

The FishSpy camera float

The FishSpy camera float.

When the carp are feeding in silt they also release a lot of the trapped gasses and you can sometimes see very obvious bubblers as the patches burst onto the surface.

Occasionally I fish a small silty lake set on the edge of Thetford forest and the fish in there bubble like crazy, particularly at first light when your swim can resemble a Jacuzzi.

I have only fished there a handful of times and always caught fish but, I had always thought I should have caught more and spent most of the day chasing bubblers up and down the lake. Eventually I decided to take a different approach and, rather than chase the fish, I would try and make the fish find me and offer them more than they were getting by feeding on the natural food within the silt.

I didn’t try for a clear or hard spot, I just picked somewhere they had bubbled up that morning and then fished as accurately as I possibly could, by this I mean baiting on the exact spot with every pouch-full and marking and clipping up my lines to ensure I was not just close but ‘bang on’ every single cast. I also put at least a kilo and a half of bait on each of two spots; I wanted them to stop when they found it rather than just keep trawling all over the swim rooting for food.

The next morning was a completely different ball game and just one glance at the surface told me my plan had worked. Rather than little individual streams of bubbles popping up randomly all over, there were two huge patches of froth, one over each spot and as soon as the bites started they came in frenetic succession. I had about six fish in as short a time as it was possible to land them and recast again.

All I had done different was to give them something to home in on, and a reason to stay there once they had. My rigs were just the trusty nylon hooklinks and bottom baits but the method change had been the key, it was that simple.

I have used this heavy baiting approach to concentrate bubbling fish in both silt and weed to very good effect quite a few times since then. The most noticeable of these was on the shallow lagoon at St Ives last year. By baiting heavily and accurately I managed to put together a string of incredible captures that culminated in the big mirror known as Colin at over fifty pounds, all from very tightly baited spots.

A big St Ives bubbler from a tightly baited area

A big St Ives bubbler from a tightly baited area.

Once again, I managed to condense the feeding activity to just my baited areas but outdoing the supply of natural food.

A lot of anglers will avoid silty areas and always be searching for that elusive ‘donk’ of the lead as it hits a hard spot but sometimes you can be missing out by not fishing the areas where the fish are used to finding natural food.

Don’t be afraid of silt or weed, just find a way to embrace it.

Waders – A Carp Fishing Essential

My friend Paul Forward and I have a little saying ‘sensible use of waders’ and it always brings a smile as it was a caption used on a photograph in a magazine photograph of him many years ago, and Paul practically lives in waders.

I too am a great advocate of rubber leg wear and I have many sets of various types. In fact, I currently have a set of wellington type boots, a pair of thigh waders and some of the new TF Gear Hardcore chest waders all in a pile in the back of my truck and I rarely leave home without all three.

Waders are a carp fishing essentail

Waders are a carp fishing essential.

Our sport is a wet one but there is really no need to suffer it by getting ourselves wet and many opportunities and circumstances will require that we get into the water to one degree or another.

Using waders to hand place baits into the margins is a method that has caught me countless fish over the years, scuffing my feet along the bottom to locate cleaned off gravel spots or little depressions in the lake bed.

Baiting up by hand in the margins

Baiting up by hand in the margins.

There have also been many occasions where I could not actually fish the areas I wanted without wading out with long bank sticks and having the rods out in the lake due to the lack of actual swims.

The safe retaining of fish is another area where chest waders are a ‘must have’ item as you often cannot just sack a fish in a shallow margin and a bit of depth needs to be found slightly further out into the lake.

Even on the bank a set of chest waders can be a huge advantage, particularly when dealing with a lively fish in cold and wet conditions for photography. A decent, flexible set of chest waders perform like a set of waterproofs and keep all your clothes nice and dry and warm, allowing you to return to bed in comfort rather than dripping wet.

I mentioned ‘flexible’ because there are, obviously, different types and grades of rubber used in waders and it is important to choose correctly.

TF Gear Hardcore waders are flexible and comfortable to wear

TF Gear Hardcore waders are flexible and comfortable to wear.

A thick or stiff set of waders will be uncomfortable and eventually crack whereas a nice soft and flexible pair like the premium TF Gear Hardcore waders, will be far more comfortable and allow you to wear them for longer periods of time.

Maggot Myth Busting

Now that winter is here a lot of carp anglers turn their attention to maggot fishing, and why not, after all they have a brilliant track record for catching carp.

dl-maggotsOne things does worry me, however, and I don’t think I am alone in saying this, in fact I know I am not.

Somewhere along the line a few people have caught over huge amounts of maggots and, somehow, this had led to the belief that more is better. Quite literally, the more you can afford to shovel into the lake then the more carp you will catch but this is not only false, it is also very dangerous.

Winter carp will only eat a small amount of food, no matter what type is may be and yes, they may find maggots attractive but they are still very unlikely to gorge themselves on them as they just do not need that much sustenance at this time of year.

What happens to the left-over bait, the uneaten maggots that are out there on the bottom of lake?

This is the part that worries me, particularly because most people’s answers to this question will be the same.

Are you also thinking that most of them will either crawl away or the silver fish will eat them?

If so, then you are in the majority but, I am afraid to tell you, probably very wrong indeed.

Unless you have a huge head of silver fish in the lake (in which case maggot fishing is not viable anyway) and you have fairly shallow lake, then the silvers will not be eating much at all.

They are usually shoaled up in and around the weed in shallower and more sheltered area and not down in the deeps on the large open areas you are probably targeting.

As for crawling away, well they just don’t go anywhere, that is a total myth as they are too busy drowning to worry about re-location and, even if they did then that doesn’t alleviate the problem of them still being in the lake.

The uneaten maggots will eventually die and rot on the bottom and huge quantities of rotting bait cannot be a good thing for the oxygen levels or the toxicology of the lake.

I know of plenty of lakes that have now banned maggot fishing for just these reasons and others that limit their use to prevent the problems arising.

Obviously, this problem is not unique to maggots and bait of all sorts can be over applied and end up rotting on the lake bed. A lot of the better-quality boilies will actually float after a short while and often, on pressured lakes, the gulls can be seen to pick them off in the windward edge.

Not all baits will, however, and let’s face it, who wants to be fishing on top of a pile of somebody else’s old bait, no matter what it may be.

The solution, take a look before you start and after you finish, gauge if you need to top up your spots or if it worth pre-baiting before you leave and see what is already out there before you start.

On a recent trip to a Northants syndicate water I spent forty-eight hours fishing a swim that I knew held carp, as I had seen them rolling at first light. I carefully spodded out a gallon of maggots over two rods and sat back to await events.

After two nights with no action whatsoever I decided to break out the FishSpy camera float and see exactly what was going on, I had another gallon of bait in the truck and I was considering baiting up before I left in readiness fir the following week but the lack of action made me hesitant.

I simply wrapped up the spod rod with the FishSpy on to the exact distance that I had been fishing and launched it out onto the spots.

What I saw amazed me, every single maggot, as far as I could tell, was still laying there perfectly presented on the bottom and the fish obviously hadn’t fed at all, despite being in the area.

Maggots everywhere on the bottom.

Maggots everywhere on the bottom – as revealed by the FishSpy camera.

This made me realise that maggots are not the wonder bait we think they are and the fish still have to be hungry to feed, in fact I wished I’d just fished with single boilie hook-baits to be honest.

The one thing I didn’t do was pre-bait before I left and I wonder just what did happen to that first gallon, did they ever get eaten?

Swim Mapping with FishSpy – The Dave Lane way

In this new post for the Fishtec blog, Dave Lane looks at an alternative way of using a FishSpy camera to rapidly map out your swim.

Just recently I have discovered a new and interesting way of using the FishSpy camera for mapping out a swim, a method that will give you a quick and easy overview of what is in front of you.

The marker rod need set be set up in a slightly different way to the usual, recommended, FishSpy method.

First thread the lightest lead that will achieve the distance you require (I was using two ounces for sixty yards).

Next slide on a large rubber bead and then firmly attach a size 8 swivel.

To the other end of the swivel you will need to tie a meter long length of a strong and tangle free braid (I used a 35lb coated hook-link material so avoid twisting around the mainline on the cast).

Then you attach the FishSpy (without the foamy) to the end of this hook-link material or preferred braid.

Attach your FishSpy without the foamy

Attach your FishSpy without the foamy.

Before casting you will need to enable the device and set it to record.

You then pick an obvious marker on the far bank and cast, clipping up the spool of your reel to ensure you hit the same distance each time.

The lead should be retrieved at a slow spinning speed along the bottom, stopping briefly every five or ten turns as you do so.

Because the float is being dragged behind the lead on the 1m link it will be held in a flat position a couple of feet above the lake bed and actually film vertically rather than horizontally, thus giving you a forward facing picture and a wider sweep of the entire lake bed.

The lead will also kick up a trail, showing you roughly the softness of the bottom as you go.

Once the float is fully retrieved you can replay the footage and view the lake bed in your swim.

You may need to disable the ‘Screen Rotation’ on your device and turn the device upside down to view the footage up the right way.

The breaks at five or ten turns of the reel will show up as pauses in momentum of the footage and, should you notice a feature worth further investigation, you can work out where it was by replicating the amount of breaks back from the clip.

You can then let the float up and check the area before casting to the float.

Please note, the clips below have no breaks in the retrieve and is a constant retrieve.

You can alter the speed of the retrieve to suit your requirements.

We would like to point out using your FishSpy without a boom or foamy is entirely at the owners own risk. We also recommend the addition of a weak link at the lead, just in case a snag is encountered.

Autumn Carp Fishing – By Dave Lane

Dave Lane simply loves autumn carp fishing! In this article you will find valuable insights into Autumn carp fishing tactics. Read on to find out how to improve your catches this autumn.

A big Autumnal leather carp

A big Autumnal leather carp.

I love the autumn, after all what’s not to love about it, particularly when it comes hard on the heels of the sort of summer we have just had.

Hot summers are the thing of dreams in this country but, when we eventually get one, we remember all too quickly just how rubbish they can be from a carp angling perspective. The autumn however, now that is another matter altogether.

When everything is suddenly drenched in dew every morning and the low pressure systems start to outweigh the highs, we know we are on the cusp.

Way before the leaves start to fall you can smell it in the air, and it smells like carp!

Autumn is nature’s grand finale, the fanfare to herald the end of summer and the approach of winter. The colours of nature are awesome during the autumn, how a leaf can turn so red or a whole line of trees appear as if they are on fire is beyond me but I never tire of looking at it. I think we are all guilty of spending more time photographing sunsets and amazing scenery than we do fish during this period of the year.

I love this shot with the golden leaves and nice forty pound mirror

I love this shot with the golden leaves and nice forty pound mirror.

Traditionally we look at it as the big feed up before winter but, in reality, it is just a culmination of perfect conditions for feeding carp. The natural food is not as abundant, the big fly hatches of summer have gone, the clouds of daphnia and algae have cleared and anglers bait must seem like the perfect alternative, an easy meal.

It always used to be September that was the magic month for me, particularly the second and third weeks. Quite why this was I do not know but I have had so many big fish in Septembers past that it cannot just be coincidence.

Nowadays, however, the seasons seem to have shifted a little and September can often be as hot as mid-summer.

I think it is more relevant to the type of summer we have had and the level of change as the seasons start to shift.

I often find during autumn that the fish, although not exactly pugged up for winter, are still a lot slower to change areas and spend a lot of time in certain spots. Whether this is because of the location of the remainder of the natural food or just that the shallower and marginal areas play less of a part in their daily habits I am not sure. The result though, is that once found they can be targeted a lot easier and deep water marks, with the correct baiting, can turn up fish week after week and give you a chance to really get things going.

Another phenomenon that I have seen time and time again in the autumn is the way the bigger fish in any lake will all get caught in quick succession, almost as if they all need to visit the bank one last time before winter. How many times have you been on a lake and somebody puts together a last burst of captures culminating in the biggest carp in the pond and then, as if a switch has been thrown, it’s straight back into to scratching time for the rest of the winter. Maybe they just feed so hard that they make mistakes a lot more readily as I can’t believe they actually want to get caught, but sometimes it does seem that way.

If you are staying on the same venue throughout the autumn and winter then this is the time to start to get a bait going, something that you can use with confidence right through the remainder of the year. Because the carp will eat such large quantities of bait throughout the autumn this will ensure that, come the winter, the small amounts of bait you give them are recognised as something they readily accept.

Personally I tend to change my venues in the winter so I often miss out on the opportunity to get a bait (and baited area) well established for the winter and I have to make it up as I go along.

A big thirty common caught at the end of september over a bed of bait

A big thirty common caught at the end of September over a bed of bait.

The reason for this is that I like to stay on those harder and lesser stocked waters throughout the autumn and hope to hit that one big payday when the fish throw all caution to the wind, eat everything in sight, and hopefully my hook-baits are included in that.

I do like to get onto my winter water before the frosts though, to at least give myself a shout of learning a bit about the carp’s behaviour before everything is shrouded in winter again.

Results throughout the winter can only really be measured against what is happening around you, not only on the lake you are fishing but surrounding lakes as well. If you are trickling the odd fish out while everyone else struggles then that, to me, is a successful winter, even if you are not setting the world alight with your captures.

So, with a chance of a big hit on the cards and winter not too far away, what bait to use?

For me the choice is easy as autumn spells boilie time, there is nothing better than a big bed of top quality boilies to keep a shoal of hungry carp interested. It offers a far more substantial form of protein for them and, as far as I am concerned, it’s a lot easier to deliver than a bucket of hemp or tigers. I also find it makes rig choice a lot less important as it’s so easy once you have fish shovelling back great big 18mm boilies, just a simple bottom bait rig or a matched pop-up will nail them every time.

I do love my boilie fishing, I know a lot of people put faith in little PVA bags full of crumbs, bits of plastic for hook-baits or single chod style presentations but I really don’t think you can beat a few kilos of goodness out in the swim, something for the carp to really get their heads down on. It lowers their cautionary level and, during the autumn, I really wouldn’t consider a different approach, even on waters that do not respond so well to it during the summer.

A cracking looking 34 mirror on the boilies in Autumn

A cracking looking 34 mirror on the boilies in Autumn.

I think the only place I’ve ever struggled for a bite on boilies as the temperatures drop was during my time fishing around the Oxfordshire venues, particularly Lynch Hill. Those waters seem like a law unto themselves and the fiddlier it all gets with rigs and baits then the more bites you seem to get, maybe it is a result of the extreme pressure they are under for almost every single minute of the year.

I think the one exception to the boilie rule though, but not until slightly later in the year, have to be maggots.

For me this is a newer method, although I know others have been at it for years. I really had my eyes opened to the effect maggots can have on a water during the latter part of autumn and the early stages of winter.

It seems like a follow on to the big feed ups on proper bait though and I think you can miss out by turning onto them too early in the year, not only that, they are hard work to fish effectively and also bloody expensive.

I am also not sure what would happen to a lake if nobody actually started on them, which may sound weird but hear me out here.

On Monks the fish would happily eat boilies throughout the autumn, great big quantities of them at times but, once the first person started with the maggots then it all seemed to change. As soon as the fish started seeing huge quantities of spodded maggot it was as if the boilies got forgotten and you had to be on the ‘germs’ to keep up.

This creates a situation where everyone is suddenly putting one or two gallons of maggots into the lake every couple of days, sometimes a lot more. Maggot fishing can often just be a matter of who can put the most out, or at least that how it may seem sometimes. I am not overly convinced that it’s the best method for the lake though, after all they can’t all get eaten and then what happens to huge beds of rotting, ammonia filled maggots?

I know I have turned up at Monks in the past and cast out a marker only to retrieve a lump of weed still full of somebody else’s old maggots so I know they don’t all disappear. Also, as the weather gets even colder the small fish don’t seem interested at all in the crawling variety of food; in fact they almost seem to disappear, particularly from the deep water where the carp often are.

On my last winter there, however, the maggot boys were not out in force as they had been during previous years and I persevered with the boilies and had some unbelievable results but I wonder if that would have been the case if someone next door was pumping gallons of maggot in?

This coming winter I may well be going back to the Quarry in Essex, scene of last year’s capture of my new PB January carp of forty six pounds but, before then, we have a whole autumn to look forward to, and I cannot wait.

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.

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.