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.
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.
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.
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.
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!