Dave Lanes first trip to the Nene valley

It was with great excitement that I set off for my first trip to my new water in the Nene valley. I had hardly been able to sleep the night before, knowing the truck was loaded and ready for departure and only parked just below the bedroom window.

I think I lasted until about 4am before I finally gave up, got dressed and left the house, clutching a thermal mug full of hot tea. The dog seemed a bit surprised at being dragged out of bed at such an unearthly hour but that’s just something he will have to get used to now that summer is on it’s way. I always like to arrive at any lake as close to first light as possible as you can learn so much more in that first hour or so about where the fish are holed up than you will throughout the rest of the day.

I was amazed, as I drew closer, just how cold and frosty everywhere was, it was nothing like that when I had left home but, quite often, you get little temperate zones or as in this case sub zero ones.

It didn’t look brilliant for the first trip as there was a freezing fog and the lake was still as a mill pond but I set off for a walk around anyway. After about forty five minutes I came to the far end and the first thing I saw was a carp, in the air!

I hung around long enough to confirm my sighting with yet another in the same area and then I was off for the carp fishing tackle, as fast as I could.

Not knowing much about the lake it was a bit of a chuck it and chance it really but the worst thing you can do is start dragging a marker float around when you are on fish. As it turned out, even the sound of the leads seemed to put them off a bit and the showing stopped altogether but I was still very confident; even two days later and with nothing to show for my efforts I had seen enough to know that this was the area I wanted to be in. The water temperatures were still very low and carp do not seem to travel far until the spring arrives in earnest so the next week saw me straight back in the same spot. I saw one fish as soon as I set foot in the swim, which was encouraging and single yellow pop-up’s were soon winging their way out to join him.

This time the plan came together a lot more successfully and I reckon the rods had only been cast out about half an hour when I had my first screaming take.

That first fish on any new water is always the most important of the lot, no matter what you might catch over the coming months it’s always the first one that’s the hardest, after that they are all just carp once more and not mythical and elusive creatures.

I knew it wasn’t a monster straight from the off, but it was still nerve racking all the same, and I had that wonderful feeling of too much adrenalin pumping through my body, shaky hands and trembling knees, a sure sign that I was fishing the right lake and trying to catch the sort of carp that still excite me even after all these years. There’s something magical about a big gravel pit and a comparatively unknown stock, it all seems so much more real than knowing everything that swims in front of you before you have even started.

As he rolled up in the gin clear margins I could see he was a mirror, a long lean scaly one at that and a proper little character fish. At a little over eighteen pounds he wouldn’t be setting the world alight but I had opened my account, started the ball rolling, and proved to myself that I could catch them. The tactics had been the simplest and most effective I knew, find the fish and then stick a little yellow pop-up in front of their nose, easy but rewarding.

I was actually expecting to bag another one or two that session but the carp had other ideas about that, still, I returned home a happy man and spent the next five days plotting the weather, staring at the lake on Google Earth and generally laying plans, I couldn’t wait to get back for another go.