Dave Lane Carp Fishing Diary | Mid September

Dave Lane Mid September

With nothing much happening on the big unknown carp front again I decided to take another trip over to Kingfisher Lake in the Thetford Forest. I enjoyed my days stalking carp the previous week but I couldn’t help but think that there must be a way to crack the problem of the bubbling carp being pre-occupied on natural food.

I had decided that bait must be the key, as it often is so, rather than just chase them around with a handful of boilies; I was going to set a trap, and a big one at that.

I arrived in the early afternoon and picked an area at fairly close range, about twenty yards from the bank, one that had signs of fish moving regularly through it. By simply watching the surface of the water I could identify the most frequently used areas by following the trails of little silver pin-prick bubbles as they hit the surface.

Once I had picked my spot I fed it as accurately as possible with about one and a half kilos of boilies. The plan was to keep everything so tight on the bottom that, once the carp passed through the spot as they filtered the silt, they would be incapable of not sucking up a mouthful of boilies as the entire bottom in a small area would be covered with them.

Although I had great faith in my new method I decided not to fish on it straight away, instead I put both rods under the island where I had had the twenty six pounder last week and just kept an eye on the baited area, watching for any change in the pattern of bubblers.

I did not have long to wait either, within an hour I could plainly see that the trails and lines of bubbles had converged on the baited area and much larger concentrations of ‘fizzers’ were erupting exactly where the boilies were.

Winding in one rod I flicked it out into the epicentre of the disturbance and, within minutes, it was away with a lively little common attached to the other end.

Now I had a method that I knew would work I had two choices, just trickle in a few more baits and try for a second bite or take it one step further and fill it in again, I chose the second option.

Unlike the previous week’s visit, I actually had the whole night ahead of me so I decided to take a gamble and put another kilo and a half on the spot, making it wide enough for two rods as I did so.

Well, the gamble certainly paid off, although I was worried for a while as it well into dark before the second bite came.

After that it was just like clockwork, every time I climbed back into the bedchair and drifted off to sleep anther screaming run from the mag-runner bite alarms would drag me back out again. This went on for pretty much the whole night, approximately one fish an hour with a welcomed break after four in the morning, the last and biggest fish coming along at first light.

I had managed seven takes in all, landing six of them up to twenty six pounds and all commons apart from one small mirror, which was a bit strange really as it’s pretty much an even split in the lake, maybe the commons just like the silty areas a bit more.

I packed up about midday extremely tired but very happy with my results, all I need now is a result like that on a larger scale from one of my main venues and my favourite month of September will be complete.

Bite Alarming!

I can barely believe it myself but I’m old enough to have witnessed the evolution of the electric bite alarm, though I came onto the scene shortly after the commercial production of Richard Walker’s famous ‘Heron’. As a kid, the very sight of this piece of fishing-wizardry – safely encased within a glass cabinet in my local tackle store – would have me near-salivating in anticipation of owning one when I got older and, hopefully, richer – they weren’t cheap for a lad dependent on pocket-money.

Heron Bite Alarms
With little prospect of securing a Heron for myself, I took to making my own carp bite alarm; an all-consuming and most enjoyable exercise for an 11 year old blessed with few technical skills but bags and bags of enthusiasm. It comprised a plastic darts-case, two 4” lengths of tin pallet-banding and black plastic tape to insulate them from each other, a standard torch bulb…and that was it, apart from the wiring. I don’t remember how I secured my creation to the bank-stick but I do recall – with a smile – the patience, the frustration and the light touch necessary to keep the contacts apart with 8lb PDQ monofil. Thing was, it worked – rather well at that! And unlike the Heron’s sound-box which lit-up intermittently with the uncertainty of a cagey take, MY alarm remained illuminated, allowing me to keep an eye on the dangling cylinder of Baco-foil. Of course, from that point on, bite detection was effectively manual (i.e. visual) and unaided by the bite-alarm, but it had done its job of alerting me to the cyprinoid-enquiry.

Not to be outdone by his youngest, irksome little boy, Dad determined to construct his own bite alarms and locked himself in the garden shed for the whole weekend. Sawing and banging was occasionally heard so it was a fair bet his invention would be wood-based; indeed, being an accomplished amateur carpenter it was a foregone assumption. Now my father was never one to do things by halves; he took pride in doing things ‘as though you mean it’, and even recommended this policy as a way of thwarting school bullies: “Try to avoid trouble, boys” he’d tell me and my elder brother, “but if you can’t, stand your ground, make a tight fist and bop him square on the nose…do it like you mean it, ok? Bang!” We’d recoil at the mock blow and with good cause! The ol’ man could bring his fist to a welcome halt a fag-paper’s width from your nose. We took his advice as gospel and it proved to be a winner on a good few occasions during our school years – and once or twice since.

Anyway, come Sunday evening, Dad was ready to exhibit his rival bite-alarm to the world, a world consisting of me, my brother, Mum and the budgie. It had the appearance of a converted bird-box and I remember my brother’s joyful observation that it was big enough for a pair of tits. Mum frowned, but her displeasure was halted by Dad’s request to help him ‘launch’ his creation. We could clearly see the large red bulb-cover on the front of the box and naively assumed the alarm would be ‘light-only’ like those I’d made in previous weeks but, like I said, Dad didn’t do things half-heartedly. Handing the experimental length of PDQ to Mum, Dad proudly stepped back and ordered his wife to tug it from the grip of the two contacts…she did so, and all Hell broke loose! The bell could have woken the dead or, at the very least, have signalled a break-out from Wormwood Scrubs, and the warning-light flashed red and angry. The budgie panicked and lost half his feathers frantically flailing around his cage; Mum shielded her ears with the oven-glove and me and my brother pleaded with Dad to turn the ruddy thing off. Very much in his own time, Dad brought the mayhem to a halt with a click of the large chrome switch on the back of the Tit Box, as we later dubbed it.

“You’re never going to use that thing over the pit, are you Dad?” I suggested

“Of course! And why not?” he asked

“Think of my reputation!” I cried, “I’M the one who’s always running around the pit telling people to keep quiet…I’ll never be able to show my face again!”

The argument continued for a minute or two before Dad returned to the shed and deposited his own personal Prometheus on his work bench. It was largely forgotten until we decided some days later to do a night session for the wildies of the Main Pool in South Ockendon, Essex. Barry and I knew that Dad was carrying the Tit Box but, I fancy, the full horror of its manifestation had diminished in our minds; we believed, I think, that what had been deafening within the confines of the kitchen would be all but lost in the great outdoors.

At some time in the wee, small hours, a humble grey-pink wild carp of around 3lbs picked up a tasty ball of Canadian Cheddar and caused a riot in so doing. Torches flashed across the lake, shouts went up and the sickening sounds of wellies kicking Thermos flasks to death filled the night air…there’d been a break-out! Barry and I were mortified: fanatical carpers both, reared on stealth and cunning, we adopted the foetal position and gritted our teeth until Dad had landed, unhooked and returned his fish to the lake some months later.

Next morning we faced a Court of Inquiry but avoided a ducking from our fellow Brothers of the Angle by concocting some cock-and-bull story about the “late arrivals” just up from our swim…we’d sent them packing with their bloody alarm and told them never to return!

In the years to come, further attempts at constructing cheap, effective bite alarms were made, though I have particularly fond memories of the Heath Robinson contraptions we made from bits and pieces found on the adjacent land-fill site: innovative? I think me and my fishing pals invented the word!

I’d truly love to see other readers’ accounts of their alarming ways.

Dave Lane Nets Two 30s!

Happy New Year to you all, 2013 is here and once again we have survived through another ‘end of the world’ scenario.

This time it was the Mayan calendar coming to its last page on 21st December but, despite the lunatics sitting on a hilltop waiting to be rescued by aliens as the world crumbles around the disbelievers, we are all still here and live to fish another day. I reckon this must be at least the fifth such event I can remember, what with George Orwell’s ninety eighty four, the millennium bug, Nostradamus predictions and the lining up of various planets to ensure we all perish in a ball of fire. It does make me chuckle but I suppose it gives Yahoo news something to write about eh?

Personally I had a great end of the world party down at the Estate Lake, having struggled for a few weeks prior to this trip it was as if the fish had decided to have a last supper as well, just in case.

The last capture from the Estate had been my twenty two pound mirror over a month before but on the Tuesday morning, after my first night of the session, I received my second ever bite from the lake. I was wandering up and down the bank looking for signs of fish when the Sounder box from my Mag-runner bite alarms screamed out in my pocket as something made off across the lake with the bait.

There was no pre-amble or hesitation, it was just a full on take as line was ripped from the clutch. The following fight was not quite as impressive as the run however, and before long a chunky mirror with a big floppy tail rolled into the net, a chunky mirror that looked incredibly familiar as it happens. I’d only gone and caught the same fish again, two carp in five weeks and it was the same fish both times!

I was pleased to have had another bite but a bit disappointed with the result and, after weighing him a full pound lighter than the last time, realised that even he had probably not fed for a while so the others must have been on a strict diet.

Later that evening though, about seven o’clock and in total darkness, I had another pick up and this fish felt a lot heavier, plodding about in the shallow water and silt in front of me. As it rolled into the net I caught a glimpse of golden scales and realised I’d got a common, and quite a big one at that.

On the mat I could see he was way over thirty pounds and, on the scales, I was proved right when he spun the needle around to thirty six and a half pounds.

Thirty six pounds plus is still a huge size for a common in my book, I think I have only ever had three or four bigger in my life so I was well chuffed. I popped him into a hard-core safety retainer for ten minutes while I sorted out the camera equipment and then took a few shots before sliding him back into the lake.

Nothing further happened that evening and, after a nice warm night’s sleep, I woke up quite surprised to find that I hadn’t had another bite as the conditions were perfect, mild and overcast with a light wind, about as un December like as you could imagine.

I had to be off the lake by one that afternoon and I was all packed up on the barrow and hovering behind the rods as my time ran out. In fact I waited until about ten past before walking towards the first rod, just as the line lifted and started kiting around from the tip, the alarm sounded and I was in again, talk about last second!

This fish fought a lot harder than the other two, repeatedly tearing off across the lake and refusing to be netted. Eventually though, the rod wore him down and I brought him up and over the net cord. Because I am fishing a smaller venue than usual I have recently swapped over to a set of three pound Nan-Tec rods, lighter than my usual distance versions and a pleasure to play fish on, I do like to see that tip cranked right over and feel every twist and turn from the carp, it makes it all so much more fun.

In the net I could see that I had landed something special, the biggest mirror in the lake weighing in at thirty five pounds and twelve ounces, what a lovely Christmas present and, if the world really was going to end in three days’ time, I was going to perish a happy man.



A slow start…

My main target this spring and early summer is tench and bream, and the chosen water is a very pretty gravel pit containing big specimens of each species. Certainly, bream to 16lbs and tench just under 11lbs have been caught and verified. My biggest bream is the 15lb 2ozs specimen from Queenford Lagoon over twenty years ago and it has been 14 years since my last double figure tench; so, I’m champing at the bit!

I’m fishing the water in the company of my good friend and brilliant angler Alan Lawrence. Alan fished the water last spring and, after a slow start, amassed a staggering total of big fish of each species. He also took a handful of good carp on his tench rigs and, with the carp running to mid 30s, there’s the potential for a heart stopping battle on light feeder rods. I’m going to resist the temptation to deliberately fish for the carp, though. I have other carp waters to target; I am totally focused on the tench and bream.

I’ve just returned from my second 48 hour session on the water, and have to report that neither Alan nor I have had a bite! I do not count a 1lb pike that took a swimfeeder on the retrieve. We have been suffering the malaise of many waters up and down the country, with unseasonably cold conditions including strong east winds, heavy driving rain and water temperature more akin to February than May. I know, speaking to many friends, that most anglers are also struggling with the decidedly wintry conditions. I live in hope, though, that these cold, wet conditions will see some really heavyweight tench being caught once the weather normalises. My three double figure fish, plus a string of nine pounders as back up, were taken after the water warmed following an equally miserable spring in 1998.

Although there is no exciting fishing to report back on at the moment, I can report on some of the new TFG products. Having finally retired my battered old Armadillo bivvy, I can say that I am delighted with my new Lok Down. Finding bivvies that will do everything with enough space is hard enough. With almost two inches of rain on my first night using it this week, it could not have had a more strenuous waterproofing test, which it passed with flying colours. Also, the Armo was the Two-Man model and I did debate whether to go for a two man Lok Down as well. In the end I opted for the one man and it is very generously sized, more than big enough for a six footer like me plus a mountain of gear. The Two-Man must be like a dance hall!

The monsoon like conditions were also an extreme test for my new Dave Lane Mag Runner bite alarms. Where bite alarms are concerned, I have no patience with all the bells and whistles some anglers seem incapable of being without. All I ask is that they sound when I get a bite, they don’t give up the ghost in the cold or damp, and they don’t require a second mortgage to keep up with the battery use. I don’t need tone alteration or volume control, although the alarms are supplied with mufflers for those who insist on ultra quiet alarms. Personally, I am not a fan of remote receivers, although one is supplied with the Mag Runners. I suppose I’m a bit old fashioned, but still believe that when I have baits out I should be behind my rods. I will use the remote receiver, though, if I’m forced to sit well back from the rods in very rough weather, so it is an important addition.

I can confirm that they passed the cold and damp situation with no problems! What I particularly like is the small size, the lightness and the dumpy little 12V batteries which are so quick and easy to change. A few years ago, I had other alarms that used the same batteries, and the battery life was outstanding. The alarms themselves, though, were a nightmare in damp conditions, but that’s another story!

Lastly, I am delighted with the new Hardcore Heavy Duty Carryalls. For bivvy fishing, and for using a barrow, the traditional rucksack is hardly ideal. I wanted a tackle bag that was solidly free standing, and not always toppling over, making finding items a lot of messing about. Similarly, the rucksack is altogether the wrong shape for barrow work. I acquired two of the carryalls, one for my tackle and one for my food, stove, cooking equipment, water etc. As well as the easily accessible load carrying, the hard top makes an ideal table. I had several very favourable comments about this luggage and I predict this will become a big seller.

See you again in a couple of weeks, when hopefully I’ll have some big tench or bream to show. In the meantime, here’s a shot of a big tench from a year back to remind us all of what one looks like!


The end of a two year blank

How annoying and frustrating it is to know the carp are in the lake but whatever you try they’re just not having any of it. Well that’s exactly the scenario I have been faced with over the past two years, fishing a lake down in the south of the country.

Don’t get me wrong by saying I’d blanked; the odd upper teen and twenty had graced my rods, which I am more than thankful for, but they were not the thirties I knew were in there and desperately wanted!

As any angler knows you start question just about everything and haven’t a clue where to focus your attention. Is it down to location, bait, rigs, or a combination of all your fishing tackle ? You even start to question your ability as an angler.

Well as anyone can imagine I played around with all these things trying different combinations of this and that and much to my frustration didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. To top it off I was getting just a little frustrated with people saying something along the lines of “You’ve got to work your way through the smaller ones in order to catch the bigger ones”. Probably the last thing I wanted to hear sometimes!

Then one Saturday morning I woke up looked out of the window and decided that in my opinion it was a perfect day to go and spend a few hours on the bank. So that’s what I did and boy I’m glad that I had!

I opted to go very light with just two fishing rods set up on combi rigs and ½ a kilo of 14mm boillies. After watching the water for just 15mins I decided where to cast my rods and promptly did so. Within the next hour the first had a screaming run and an 18lb was in the net. No more than 10 minutes later the Delkim bite alarm on the second rod had a series of beeps that quickly developed into a take and I was into my second fish. Now this to me was a miracle on this lake and I was desperate not to lose this fish. I don’t think I have ever played a fish so cautiously in all my life. After what seemed like forever the fish was in the margins and I could tell I had hit the jackpot, I was so worried it would escape the net somehow.

When it was finally in the unhooking mat I could have jumped around the bank in excitement but all I wanted to do was weigh it. The beautifully scaled mirror weighed exactly 30lb and I was over the moon.

Okay so it wasn’t the biggest fish in the lake but it was the thirty I had been waiting on for two years. It shows that with a little perseverance you can achieve in the end.
With my confidence taking a boost let’s hope it’s not another two year for my next one out this lake.

Creedy Fishing Lakes

I recently spent a day at a lovely water near Exeter called Creedy Lakes, which is owned and run by Sandra & Stewart Tuner. Set in peaceful, picturesque surroundings, these two 18th century spring-fed waters offer some of the hardest fighting carp in Devon. Abundantly stocked with immaculate commons to over 31lbs, mirror and koi carp, together with green and golden tench, making it one of the best big fish day ticket water venues in the Southwest. The main lake is about 4 acres and holds a good head of carp up to 31lb.

On this session I was more than pleased with all 3 fish over the 20lb mark, but the one I won’t forget is the bigger one of them. I knew as soon as my barbel rod had screamed with this fish and I had hooked into it that is was unlike any of the others I had played that day. It played me hard, much more so than the 21lb I had landed that morning. It used its weight to try and hold up in the water and I had no option but to let it play me and take more line off my fishing reel when needed.

After what seemed like a long tense struggle with the fish it was finally by the net but was still not going to give up that easily and was still fighting hard. With a final struggle the fish was in the bottom of the net and already I knew that I had a fair sized carp in there. When I put it on the unhooking mat it became apparent that this fish was not only pretty long but also pretty wide and weighed in at 27lb 3oz. What a cracker of a fish it was and I couldn’t wait to have my photograph taken with it.

I was proud to be able to put this fish back into the lake ready for someone else to catch another day. I know that I can’t expect action like this every time I visit a day ticket water but it is a good feeling when it does happen. I will never underestimate, and neither should anybody else, the success that can be achieved from a day ticket water.