Early Spring Carp Fishing On Celtic Lakes

It is now mid March so spring must have arrived by now.. right? With the weather seemingly on the change for the better, our resident carp and coarse fishing adviser Simon Howells decided It was finally time to break out the carp fishing tackle, and head out for the first fishing trip of the year!

Celtic lakes fishery map

Celtic lakes fishery map

My truck was packed to the brim with fishing gear for the three day outing from Tuesday until Thursday,  and I headed off on a journey to deepest rural Wales. The chosen venue was Celtic lakes resort, near Lampeter. Celtic lakes offers superb fishing on 6 waters of varying sizes, all heavily stocked with carp to 35lb+ and catfish to 85lb as well as a mix of coarse fish including tench, roach, rudd, perch and bream. I reached the lakes about lunch time, and after speaking to Janet the fishery manager had a good look around the lake and picked my swim for the few days fishing.  During the setting up of the bivvie and the rest of the fishing gear it was a really nice day; sunny with hardly any clouds at all and even though it was mid March it was fairly warm. Indeed one or two fish were spotted on the surface, so a mental note was made of where they were, so a bait could go out in that area!

Everything set up and ready for a run

Everything set up and ready for a run!

I decided to fish a three rod set up. I placed my left hand rod out tight to the island with mainline cell as a hook-bait over a bed of robin red pellets. The middle rod was for the catfish into open water, so on went the large halibut pellets, with  mainline halibut syrup to give them some extra zing. The right hand rod was going out on the right side of the island where there was a large cut between the two islands. On this rod I would be using the new Nash TG boilies. To attract the carp I put out a bed of Nash TG stick mix and chilli hemp, then threw in some white chocolate and coconut ground bait, Nash TG flakes and finally tandoori shrimp liquid to finish off! I have to say it smelt really nice and if I was a carp I would definitely be trying some. It made me hungry anyway!

Carp bait all ready to use

Carp baits all ready to use

Well I didn’t have to wait that long really as the left hand bite alarm started bleeping and the swinger started going!  After a short fight a small but lovely common carp at 6lb – 2oz graced the net. The light started to fade and the night drew in. Nothing happened for a long time until my left hand rod went again just after I had got into bed and turned the light out for the night… I shot out of the bivvy lifted into the fish and once again it didn’t feel very big. After another brief fight I landed a common carp of 6lb – 9oz at about 1.20am. After putting the fish back it was straight back into the bivvy to get some shut eye.

6lb 9oz common carp

6lb 9oz common carp

In the morning I was woken up by very high winds at about 5.30am, it was seriously blowing a gale and chucking it down with rain and sleet, the temperature had dramatically plummeted. Poking my head out of the bivvy door I could see fresh snow dusting the hills!  What a change from Tuesday and this would really affect the fishing if the temperature didn’t go back up slightly! Unfortunately nothing happened all day Wednesday, but hey that’s carping for you! Thursday was here before I knew it. There was no change in the weather but the wind had eased a little and to be fair I was thinking of jacking it in early. While pondering this I put the kettle on for a brew and a quick bite to eat, and lo and behold my left rod screamed away with another common carp that weighed 8lb – 3oz.

The final carp of the trip goes back

The final carp of the trip goes back

Sadly this was the last carp of the trip and it was time to pack everything down in the pouring rain, and head home! I will be returning soon as I really want to get one of the specimen cats from the lake and some bigger carp… so in the words of Arnie.. I’ll be back Celtic lakes!

 

 

 

Fishy sayings debunked

Ever wondered why people say they’ve “gone fishin’” rather than “gone for a walk”? Or why carp are forever associated with complaining?

Ever stood on the riverbank and wondered why angling is called angling or why a kettle of fish is such a bad thing to be in? Wonder no more.

We’ve put our heads together to come up with solutions to some common fishing sayings – so next time you’re out fishing, all you need to think about is the fish.

Gone fishin’

Gone Fishin' sign on a wooden board on a wooden door.

Image source: William Scott
So have you actually gone fishing, or not?

You’d be forgiven for thinking the meaning of the term, “gone fishin” is so obvious it’s undeserving of a mention, but that’s where you’d be wrong. Because there’s a whole lot more to the popularity of the phrase than meets the eye.

Until 1951, in America, if a shop was closed and a sign in the window stated the proprietor had gone fishing, they probably meant they’d taken their fishing equipment and  – gone fishing. But then along came Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong, and recorded a little ditty called “Gone fishin’” and hey presto, the phrase passed into the mainstream. Later re-recordings by Pat Boone and Gene Autry among others helped to cement the phrase in the public imagination so that now, if you’ve “gone fishin’”, you might have headed to the river bank, or equally, you could just be taking a break!

Kettle of fish

Kettle of fish soup cooking over a campfire.

Image source: Alexpurs
The origin? Fish stew!

Two meanings in one cauldron with this one: a “fine kettle of fish” as in a bit of a pickle, and a “different kettle of fish” meaning something altogether different. But where does the phrase come from? Nobody seems to know for sure. However, like the sleuths we are, we did manage to track down a couple of possible explanations.

A kettle of fish seems to have been an 18th century innovation, possibly linked to a practice among Scottish Lairds of giving a “kettle of fish”. An outdoor picnic would be held by the banks of a river, where the nobles and their pals would wet a fly or two. To the delight of all, the catch would be cast alive into a big vessel of boiling water to be cooked and eaten.

Another explanation comes from over the pond in Newfoundland where 100 lbs of fish was called a “quintal, kintel or kental” It’s thought the word, “kettle” evolved through repeated mispronunciation.

There she blows

A sperm whale rising to the surface of the ocean to breathe in Sri Lanka.

Image source: Shane Gross
This phrase was bad news for whales.

Did you know peak oil actually occurred all the way back in 1846? Of course we’re not talking about Brent crude here, but that other oil boom of yesteryear – the sperm whale oil business. Up until the mid Victorian period, whale oil supplied lubricants and soap and was also used in the processing of textiles. But its main use was for lighting and spermaceti was the best oil money could buy. Scientists still don’t know what the oily contents of a sperm whale’s head is for, but back in the day, it was the brightest, cleanest burning oil money could buy.

A single sperm whale could supply as much as three tons of the stuff. “There she blows” was the battle cry of the whaling ship’s masthead lookout – and all too often, it spelt doom for an innocent creature. Whales were hunted to the very brink of extinction. What saved them? The invention of the light bulb.

Stop carping

A mirror carp swimming underwater on a hot day.

Image source: Kletr
Poor carp have an unjustified reputation as a nag.

Ever been told (or told someone) to stop “carping”? Ever wondered what the poor old carp has done to deserve its reputation as a nag and a moaner, whilst really just trying to avoid your carp fishing tackle? The answer? Nothing. That’s because the verb “to carp” actually has nothing at all to do with the fish of the same name.

In fact, “carping” comes from Middle English – a form of English that was in use from the 12th to the 15th century. It was the lingo of Chaucer’s Canterbury tales and developed from Old English after the Norman invasion. In Middle English, the word was “carpen” or “to speak”, and this came from an even earlier old Norse word, “karpa”, which meant “to brag”. Relax – it’s not the fishes fault!

Angling

Old fashioned drawing of a man angling.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Richard III is to thank for angling.

Here’s a riddle: What has angling to do with a car park in Leicester? For the answer we need to travel back in time to the late 15th century and the very late, King Richard III. Before the murderous monarch cried, “my kingdom for a horse,” (according to Shakespeare anyway) was gruesomely killed and buried in what became a carpark, he may well have told his squire to pack some sandwiches, his fishing rod and an angle or two for a day’s fishing.

An angle is middle english for apex or tip, fishing is fishing, but fishing with a hook is angling. An angle is a fishing hook.

TF Gear DVD Big Carp Tactics with Dave Lane

Join Dave Lane on the banks of one of the most famous carp lakes in history, the prestigious Yateley Pads lake. Dave attempts to lure the elusive Pad lakes monsters, learn how to successfully target the largest carp in the lake on methods which are no so widely used. Joined by Total Carp editor Marc Coulson who gives a master class in chod rig fishing and shows you everything you need to know about this devastating presentation.

Get an exclusive first look at the exciting new carp fishing tackle Dave has been developing for TF Gear over the past 12 months. Highlights include Laney’s new long distance carp rods and watch in amazement as he erects his new Force 8 Shelter, the fastest shelter in the world, in under 10 seconds.

He reveals the new Hardcore Brolly System with its unrivalled luxury, versatility and stability – this is surely the ultimate all season brolly system. Including many other TF Gear products which are all available from Fishtec.

Look out for part two, three and four over the next week.

 

Carp Fishing Special from Dave Lane

Dave Lane has produced many carp fishing video diaries over the last couple of weeks and this is our favourite yet! Dave’s a phenomenal angler as many of you will know, catching plenty of carp using some of the best best carp fishing tackle on the market. But even the best make mistakes… Have you ever done this?

Dave Lane’s Carp Fishing Special

Dave Lane Carp Fishing Diary November 2013

Dave Lane Hartford Mirror

The Hartford Mirror..

As we move in to November we could well be wondering if the winter is actually coming at all this year. I am certainly not complaining though, the weather conditions throughout October have been perfect for carp fishing and my catch rates have been a reflection of this.

At the beginning of the month I moved back onto Monks Pit, in Cambridgeshire as I thought it was about time I targeted some large carp again. I have enjoyed my summer excursion on the large gravel pit in search of unknown monsters but, with the year getting into its last quarter, I wanted somewhere to settle down on, in readiness for the colder weather.

Monks has been good to me in the past and I have had a total of five different fish over forty pounds from the venue. I thought, at one stage, that I had finished with the place but, recently, I got chatting to a couple of mates who still fish there and realised that there are probably still three or four over that weight I haven’t caught so a return for the winter seemed more and more like a good idea.

My first trip was an impromptu affair, pulling off the big pit halfway through a session when I thought I should be making the most of big low pressure system, and turning up at Monks with just an hour and a half of daylight remaining, just enough time to get the carp fishing tackle sorted and setup for the night.

Having not been on the lake for two years I would have preferred a bit more time to walk about and suss the place out a bit but, instead, I opted for a swim that I had always liked in the past. The swim I chose was in the middle section of the lake, always a good bet to start with and it gave me a good view if anything topped elsewhere.

The carp at Monks do like a bit of bait so I spent the next hour spodding out a bed of boilies, hemp, tigers and corn, setting all three carp fishing rods at the same distance in a line across the swim.

That first night went by without any action and I was just thinking about a move when a good sized fish topped right over my right hand carp rod. It couldn’t have even been a full minute later when the line tightened up and the tip pulled down towards the surface, signalling my first bite.

Right from the off the fish felt heavy and incredibly powerful, but then I had been used to catching twenties from the big pit over the previous months so I was unsure exactly how much bigger this beastie might turn out to be. He fought well in the deep and clear water eventually weeding me up in a big bed of Milfoil down to my right. After trying all the usual tricks with no success I had to resort to going out in the boat to free him, this is always a lot easier and safer with heavy weed once you actually get right above the fish and change the line angle as it enters the weed-bed. After a few hairy moments I managed to get him free and then it was just a matter of playing him out in open water. With the clarity being so good I could clearly see him ten feet below the boat, twisting and turning on the line and he did look very, very big indeed. Although I’d never seen the fish before I recognised him from a description I been given only the previous night and, as he went into the net, I knew I’d cracked one of the few remaining big fish in the lake that I hadn’t already caught. He was a fish known as the ‘Hartford mirror’ and he weighed just a little over forty pounds, what a way to start a return to Monks!

Once I had sussed where and how they were feeding I juggled the rods around a bit and kept a constant supply of bait going in over the area and, during the next twenty four hours , I managed to bank a further five carp up to mid-thirties but the Hartford mirror really was the star of the show.

If I had had any doubts about where to pass the colder months of winter then they have been dispelled now, with fish of this stamp only an hour from my doorstep I reckon that Monks will be seeing quite a bit more of me and Paddy over the coming few months, I can’t wait to get back out there.

Dave Lane Carp Fishing Diary | Early September

Early September with Dave Lane

Sorry it’s been so long since my last blog but, what with school holidays and an acute lack of carp there has been precious little to blog about!

I have still been off chasing the unknown, trying my hand on waters that most sane anglers would not look twice at. Unfortunately that is the only way I am ever going to realise my dream of a big unknown carp though, and it is par for the course to have more than a few blanks along the way.

There comes a time however, when I just want to get out there and get a bend in one of my many fishing rods and this time happens to be now.

Last week I decided to re-visit a small and tree lined lake not far from my home. It’s situated on the edge of the Thetford forest and is a picturesque, tree fringed lake with a large and well established island running along the centre.

Because of the surrounding forest it has a fair depth of silt, a build-up of years of fallen leaves that have rotted away on the bottom, forming a thick layer of detritus.

As a result of this the carp can be seen bubbling and fizzing up as they feed in the deeper water and this can lead to some exiting stalking situations.

I turned up on a Thursday morning, just for a quick day session as the conditions looked ideal.

I always think if you have a lake nearby and a bit of time on your hands, it got to be worth a trip out, even if it’s a quick one, as it only takes a few minutes in the right spot to catch a carp.

At this time of year, as the air temperatures drop and we get a few low pressure systems moving in, the carp can suddenly go on the feed and the lethargy of summer days can seem a thing of the past. September is actually one of my favourite months of the year and it has provided me with countless personal bests and memorable captures over the years gone by. In fact, I would go as far as to say that September, April and possibly February can be the best months of the carp fishing year.

On this particular trip I found the carp, as expected, bubbling up in the deeper siltier part of the lake and I spent a fruitless couple of hours chasing them about, using light leads and long nylon hook-links, a method I have a lot of faith in when the bottom is soft and silty.

On this occasion though, they seemed to be totally pre-occupied with whatever was crawling around in the detritus and I had to employ a backup method as time was ticking away and I had to pick the littlest one up from school at four o’clock.

About two in the afternoon the sun made an appearance and, within minutes, I spotted the first carp cruising along the sunny side of the island. This area is a lot firmer and I knew, if I could get a bait tight enough to the island, that I had a shout of a bite.

It’s exciting stuff when you have a bait cast into just eighteen inches of water and you can clearly see the backs of carp as they pass over the spot.

I think there must have been at least three near misses before the bow wave of a carp lined up perfectly with the exact spot of my single bait and then, suddenly, there was big swirl as he sucked it in and realised his mistake.

A lot of people will advocate the method of ‘locking up’ when fishing up against islands, fishing your line as tight as possible with no clutch or free-spool set and the bobbin right up against the rod but I totally disagree. The way I see it is this; a fish cannot actually take any line anyway, not unless he is going to climb out over the island and the usual result is that they shoot sideways along the island margin until they find a snag. As long as you have a small drop on the bobbin then you will know instantly when the bait has been picked up and, with a tight clutch, it takes just two paces backwards to pull the carp away from danger before he even realises what’s going on.

With the fish safely in the clear channel I had time to enjoy the fight as he plodded up and down over deeper water, putting a healthy bend in the rod as he did so.

Under the tip was a different matter and there were a few tense moments as he realised he was losing the battle but everything held firm and the forgiving action in the top section of my TF Gear Nan-tec rods easily absorbed all the last minute lunges.

Once he was beaten and lying on the mat I had a chance to relax and appreciate how well a few hours in the right conditions can go, instead of being stuck at home working I was holding up a heavily scaled twenty six pound mirror for the camera. With the fish safely returned and the gear hastily thrown in the back of the truck I just made it back to the playground in time, although I did get a bit more room around me than usual and a few wrinkled noses at the distinct odour of fish slime!

Carp Fishing at Bears Water

Finally the weather has turned and spring has arrived, the fish have come out of winter mode and are now on the move. For a few weeks I’ve been looking for a venue (not too far away) that holds some big, good looking carp. After searching the web a friend put me on to Bears Lake in Burton upon Trent. Before any successful fishing trip you must research a water, going blind into something you don’t know usually means you’ll fall flat on your face so I and a friend went up to Bears for a recce and managed to get a few works in with the local bailiff who was more than helpful.

A week later we decided to take the carp fishing rods and venture back to Burton Upon Trent to try our hand at the Bears carp. Despite our efforts throughout the day we both drew a blank. I took the opportunity of our dire performance to walk around the lake, searching for any feeding activity and talking to the local anglers who seemed to be netting a few fish. After a few laps of the lake I was certain I’d found a few feeding fish and was confident that with the right tackle and approach I could get them.

A fortnight passed and I managed get some time to get out on the bank. On the Thursday morning the weather was relatively similar to that of the day we fished previously, so I took the 40 mile round trip to have another look around the lake and check on the fish I found previous, pre baiting some of the spots in mind.

As Bears Lakes is a day ticket and members waters, baiting one swim a couple of days previous could lead to disaster, so managed to pre bait three spots as I couldn’t be certain of the peg I wanted. When I arrived at the lake the sun was beaming down and the carp where all over the surface, I walked around to the first peg I fancied and a mid-teen swam straight in front of me and into the tree that overhangs that  peg. I scattered around half a kilo of cell boilies hoping that they would feed and hold up under the tree. After waiting and watching the pre baited peg, I made my way around the lake and places some free offerings into another two spots. These other two spots held some fish, but nothing could keep my mind from that first peg.

After work that Friday evening I arrived back at the lake and was greeted with an almost free lake, other than the two bailiffs that were fishing. Fortunately the peg I wanted was free. Jordan (one of the bailiffs) informed me there had been fish all around that peg all day. After a quick look at the peg I couldn’t see any sign of the fish he’d mentioned, so I wandered around to the next peg and was astonished to see twenty or more carp in and around the tree!

To say I was excited is an understatement, I chose to set up on the peg, fortunutaly it was one I’d pre baited, and keep an eye on any feeding activity. Tactics wise my aim was to sporadically draw the fish from the far side of the tree rather than fishing over them and risk spooking the lot. After putting a some more boilies into the swim I set up  both of my TF Gear Delta 3.25lb carp rods. On one rod I used my faithful fluorocarbon rig on a TF Gear weedy green lok down leader and a cell boilie on a hair rig. I positioned this right next to the tree, ahead of where the fish were mooching and heading towards. The second carp rod was set up with a solid bag which incorporated another weedy green lok down leader a size 8 wide gape hook and a Fluoro cell pop up, all of which I intended to throw out into open water, in case of any stragglers.

TF Gear Lok Down Leaders

TF Gear Delta XS Rods

At 7pm, just an hour or so after pitching the rods and bait, the bobbin shot up and the bite alarm sounded. A beautiful Tench of around 4lb picked up the fluorocarbon rig next to the tree. After a quick snap I re-positioned my rod in that exact area, hoping to locate something bigger and carpier!

Alex Moyle Tench on the Fishtec blog

As the night grew on there were no other indications of bites, the fish I saw earlier seemed to be dormant, and so I climbed into my Force 8 sleeping bag hoping to get some shut eye. After the tench I doubted my chances of catching off the tree again as I thought any fish under there would have been spooked. At 11pm id dropped off for an hour so only to be woken by one of my alarms. I ran and picked up my right hand rod which was the same one that done the damage earlier on that evening and there was no movement; my first thought is that it had done me in the snags. I give the rod a few pulls and then I felt a fish pull back hard, it tried to pull me back into the tree but luckily my Delta XS out powered it and the fish slowly but surly come unstuck. The fish started to pull out into the deep margins and kept down, I was not scared of a hook pull as the nice progressive action of the rod cushioned all over the lunges.

A few minutes later I managed to tempt a gorgeous mirror over the landing net. I threw a clenched fist into the air with joy and Paul, the resident bailiff come with a helping hand. We pictured the 17lb 7oz fish then let it go, a beautiful fish to start my frequent carp fishing spell at Bears.

Alex Moyle Mirror Carp on Fishtec Blog

Bears Lake is noted for being a tough lake to fish and I was proud to net this magnificent fish. I continued to fish until 5pm on the Saturday with no more success but I managed to wander the lake to find a couple of areas where the fish were laying up, until next time, tight Lines!

 

Dave Lane Carp Fishing Diary

Well, I said last week it was prime time to grab the rods and get out there on the banks and it looks like I have proven myself right.

Luckily nobody else on the syndicate took my advice though because the lake was deserted as I pulled into the car park at first light on Monday morning. I knew exactly where I was headed; back out on to the peninsula where I had landed the six fish from the previous session, the only thing I couldn’t decide was which of the three swims to fish. There is one off the end and one on each side, fishing into totally separate bays. As it turned out I ended up fishing all of them and I’d taken three of the new landing nets with me in case this was the outcome. I started out just fishing off the barrow for the day, spending half an hour looking across one bay and then half an hour in the other. Even though there is only a few yards between the swims I’d made a note of the colour of the carp bite alarms and kept the sounder box in my hand, ready to run in whichever direction I needed should a take occur, which it did and pretty quickly too.

The single rod fished off the end of the point was the first one away, a spot that has been very productive for me over the last few sessions.

I knew it was a big fish straight away as it kept deep and very slowly plodded along bottom of the gully that runs around the point. The water on the near side of the gully is exceptionally shallow so I stripped down to my pants and waded out a few yards until I had enough depth for the net. With the pressure now right above the fish it didn’t take long to coax him up through the water and into the net. As soon as I set eyes on him I knew which one he was, the big Italian, third biggest fish in the lake but, unfortunately, a re-capture for me. That’s the problem though with fishing for only one or two target fish, you are bound to have a few repeats along the way but I was sure I must be getting closer to my goal. This was my thirtieth capture from the lake this year and, with only fifty fish in there, it could only be a matter of time before that big old leather carp rolled into my net.

After weighing him in at thirty seven pounds, I decided to take a couple of quick snaps of him and, just as I was sliding him back into the lake, the blue light lit up and sounder box started howling away. This was the rod I’d placed in the middle bay, an area I’d yet to catch from but somewhere I’d baited and was convinced the fish had started using over the last week or so. Whatever I’d hooked in there decided that it wanted to put as much distance between himself and me as was possible in a short space of time and the rod was almost wrenched from my hands as he tore off through the weed. Eventually he came to a halt as he locked solid in a huge bed of Canadian Pondweed and nothing I tried would persuade to come out again. Eventually the only option was to tighten right up and slowly walk backwards, ripping the entire weed bed free and bringing it slowly across the surface towards the bank. It seemed to take an eternity to get it to within netting range and, just as it was drawing close, the fish bolted out of the side of it and buried in the weed at my feet. I’d got a good look as he went past and I was fairly sure it was a fish known as the ‘Bullet Hole’ common, the second biggest carp in the lake and one I dearly wanted to catch. Although he was only a few yards out it was a full half an hour before I eventually landed him, having had to go in up to my neck in the water and free him using my feet in the weed!

On the bank though it all became worth the effort as I hoisted him up for the camera, also thirty seven pounds in weight but, unlike the Italian, perfectly proportioned and covered in big golden scales.

This was turning into quite a session and with the common ticked off the list, realistically, it now only left the big leather for me to catch.

I was amazed not to get a bite throughout the hours of darkness as there were obviously a few fish about but I did see a very big fish show right over my second middle bay rod, the swim I had eventually decided to set up camp in.

Both the other fish had come in the morning so I was practically hovering over the rods as soon as became light. Typically though, it wasn’t until I was busy re-casting one of the other rods in the margins to my right that the first bite came, and what a bite it was. Total meltdown is about the only description that fits and the spool was a complete blur. Unlike the common though, the fight was a dour affair and, barring the odd roll on the surface, the fish came straight in to the bank like a dog on a lead. It was only at the last moment, as he rose up over a bank of weed, that I realised exactly what I had hooked. There on the surface, not ten yards in front of me, was the most enormous chunk of leathery back just rocking on the surface. Whether I hesitated or whether he just realised what was happening I don’t know but he chose that moment to wake up and he dived straight down into the same weed bed I had had all the trouble with the previous day. Not wanting a repeat performance of that fiasco I just piled on the pressure and lifted him straight back out again, before he could get too entwined. Up he came, out of the weed and, as he hit the surface in bewilderment, I just slid the net straight under him before he could plan his next move.

Wading back out cradling a net full of carp was such a mad feeling, all those nights wondering when and how and, sometimes, if, that big old beast would be mine and now here he was. It was as if I had been working to a script, first the common and now him, all forty five pounds and twelve ounces of him.

My Northants campaign had come to an end and what a way to finish with the three biggest in the lake one after another. Not wanting to break the spell or ruin the story with a little common as well, I wound in the remaining rods and, after a mammoth photo shoot, packed slowly away for the last time, sporting a grin so wide that it almost joined up at the back of my head.

All I have to do know is find somewhere else to setup the carp fishing tackle and target some other large carp!

 

40lb leather fishtec Dave Lane

40lb leather

 

Catching fish at last!

No matter how long you’ve been an angler, and I’ve been chasing specimens for over 50 years, a run of blanks saps your confidence. I don’t care who you are, you start to question your competence, your rigs and your baits. You know you’re doing nothing wrong, what you are doing has worked well in the past, but you simply cannot avoid that self doubt creeping in.

For that reason, it’s a good idea if you’re on a bad run to have a session at a relatively easy water, simplify your carp fishing tackle and get a few fish to restore the self confidence. That is what I did yesterday. After six gruelling two day sessions at the big tench and bream water with Alan Lawrence, after which we’d had just one tench and four jack pike between us, I was in need of the sunshine break which my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed in Tenerife.

On my return last week, Alan confirmed that the pit still was not producing and he had left it for a while to have a couple of sessions at a more prolific water to get a bend in the rod. I decided, therefore, to have a dawn to dusk session at a local gravel pit which has a good head of carp as well as some terrific roach, backed up by very average tench and bream. The carp were my target, hopefully one of the four known thirties in the water. But, with a fair head of twenties and lots of doubles, I was hoping for a run or two.

On my arrival to the lake at opening time 6.00am, I was not encouraged by the on-site bailiff who confirmed that the water had been very dour for weeks. The ridiculous amounts of cold rain had raised the water level quite dramatically, causing the fish to totally shut up shop. As well as that, although it was dry when I arrived, by 6.30am the rain was falling. What a summer this is turning out to be.

The swim I selected looked a cracker for a carp or two, where my right hand rod could place a bait off the point of an island under an overhanging willow at 70 yards. The left hand fishing rod would be cast to the same island twenty yards to the left, where there was a little bay overhung with what looked like brambles. In view of the information from the bailiff, I was unsure of how much bait to introduce initially. My plan had been to bait heavily to start with. After a little deliberation, I decided to go with the original plan and fired out about a kilo of 14mm baits around each rod.

By the time I was ready to cast out, it was around 7.30am. Alarms set, I sat back with a cup of tea under my umbrella to wait on events. I never had time to finish it. It must have been less than three minutes after the cast and the right hand carp rod was off to a real flier; I struck into a powerful fish that was kiting right at a rate of knots. By now, the rain was lashing down and that, as well as the oppressively humid conditions making me as wet under my waterproofs as on top of them, it was decidedly uncomfortable. The fish fought well, although it was obviously no monster. Eventually, it was in the net, a really pretty, fully scaled mirror of around 15lbs. Just as I was about to lift it onto the unhooking mat, the other fishing rod screamed off! Placing the net and fish back I the margins, I struck into another fish, this one going at breakneck speed. Immediately, I said to myself that this had to be a long, lean common, and I was spot on as it turned out. It proved to weigh just under17lbs. I had a problem during the playing. I had only set up one landing net, although I always carry two, so I had to jam the rod between my legs, with an angry carp ripping line off the clutch, as I hastily assembled the second net. By the time both fish had been unhooked, released, and I was cast in again I was absolutely soaked. I had fired out another 100 baits around each rod. That had been quite a start and the confidence builder I needed.

From then on until 2.30pm, with the rain virtually non stop, I was to enjoy the most incredible action. In all, that period had produced a further eleven carp, all over 14lbs with the best at 19lb 11ozs, plus three small bream. I would have loved a shot of the 19-11, a gorgeous linear mirror, but unfortunately, when I landed it, we were in the middle of an incredible thunderstorm with mega hailstones. It wasn’t worth damaging my camera and I reluctantly slipped it back and dived back under the brolly.

Strangely, the action then stopped as suddenly as it had started and from then until 7.00pm all was quiet. At around 5.00pm the rain had stopped at last and hot sun broke through. What bliss! It stayed quite hot for a couple of hours, drying my carp fishing gear nicely, and then I noticed further ominous black thunder clouds approaching once more. I had planned to fish until 8.00pm but decided to pack up there and then and get my fishing gear back into the van before it got another soaking. Like all anglers, I suppose, I gathered all the ancillary stuff together first and was just reaching for the first rod when the alarm shrieked and line began pouring off the spool in a blur. As I struck, I felt the first few spots of rain and played the fish as hard as I dare. By the time it was approaching the net cord the rain was getting heavy again and I was soaked once more, but this time I’d already packed the umbrella away. Quickly returning the fish, a mid double common, I quickly folded the rod into its sleeve and then, unbelievably, the second rod was screaming away. In a now torrential downpour, I played in yet another hard fighting common which I estimated at about 17lbs. Minutes after returning that second late arrival, I was making a mad dash for the van, unceremoniously dumping the sodden gear into the back before scrambling into the driving seat. It would have been impossible to have been any wetter and never before has a hot shower been more welcome!

Looking back on the day, it was what I needed. I had not managed one of the water’s bigger residents, but fifteen double figure carp, from about 14lbs to 19-11, makes for an incredible days fishing in anyone’s book. I couldn’t do it too often. The odds against a really big fish are too long but, as I said at the start of this blog, when you’re struggling, action like I’d just enjoyed is tremendously therapeutic. I shall go into my next big fish session with renewed confidence.

 

Dave Lane Carp Fishing Diary

Well, the summer is marching on now although you could be forgiven for thinking it was still spring as the weather has been atrocious.

I have been having a few fish out of the big gravel pit though so I suppose the winds and rain are more conducive to catching carp than a traditional summer would be. We have had a few periods of hot weather and, during these; I have had a chance to pursue my favourite form of angling, stalking with light carp fishing tackle.

There is nothing quite like the thrill of watching a fish as it takes your bait at close quarters. During one recent spell of sunshine I stumbled across a small group of carp just feet from the bank, in an area that I had hardly paid any attention to in the past. It was literally just a gap in the bushes right up against the path where walkers and dogs charge past for most of the day, hardly the secluded location I expected to find them in.

It was a cruising fish that led me to them, I simply followed its progress down the lake, curious as to where it was headed and he led me straight to the spot where five other fish were already milling around some emerging grass weed on the bottom.

There were only about a dozen shoots showing through the bottom and the longest a mere twelve inches long but the fish seemed to find them interesting enough and I could clearly see small white stones glowing on the bottom, a sure sign of recent feeding activity. I always get excited when I find areas like these as the shiny stones are caused by cleaning when the fish suck them in and blow them back out again. This coupled with suspended particles of silt in the water is the biggest give away of all so I knew I was onto a winner.

When I walk circuits of the lake, even if I don’t have a rod with me, I always ensure I have a pocket full of boilies for just this sort of situation and I broke a handful up into small pieces and flicked them piece by piece onto the spot, carefully so as not to spook the fish. With the spot baited I quickly ran back to my swim for a rod a net and a sack, that’s how confident I was.

Back at the spot I noticed straight away how much more colour there was in the water and the presence of tiny pin prick bubbles on the surface told me they had found the bait.

Getting a rig into position was the hardest part and I had to patiently wait until the fish were circuiting the area, twice aborting the drop as one ghosted out of nowhere directly where I had intended the lead to land.

Finally though, I managed to lower the rig, so close that the bail arm didn’t even need opening, and then I set the rod up as far back as the path would allow, with just the rod tip poking out over the water. The hardest part was staying back myself, I was desperate to watch but, at the same time, nervous about the carp catching sight of me and bolting out of the area.

Luckily I didn’t have to wait too long anyway as the tip whipped around as a fish made the big mistake of thinking the bright yellow bait looked the most appetising!

Bolting straight off from the area as he did he left the other fish totally unaware of the danger and I could see them still down there stirring up the bottom but that didn’t last for long. The fish managed to find a snag buried out there in a weed bed and it soon became apparent that I’d need to get the rescue boat out to land him and, as soon as I paddled through the swim to retrieve the rod I saw carp bolting off in all directions. It was obvious then that this was to be my only chance of success for that particular swim so I used every trick in the book to free him from the unseen obstacle and, after a great deal of persuasion the line came free and I was back in contact. Although I could clearly see that it wasn’t a huge fish he certainly fought like one and dragged the boat about all over the place before I eventually managed to bundle him in the net.

Stalked!

All told it was a very exciting couple of hours fishing and a lovely mid twenty mirror was the result although I knew I’d have to find a new spot for the next bite. As it happened the remaining bait stayed in that spot for two days without being touched so I’d definitely put the cat amongst the pigeons so to speak.