Dave Lane Carp Fishing Diary

Every now and again you just have one of those sessions, sometimes it can be the worst session of your life when, for no apparent reason, everything just goes completely wrong. Occasionally though, when the carp gods are smiling, it can be the complete opposite and it seems as if you can do no wrong. I was fortunate enough to experience one of these golden trips on the big pit not so long ago, although it certainly didn’t start out that way. I arrived to find that the river had burst it’s banks and the entire lake was flooded out, all the pathways were under water, and I really mean underwater, they were more like tributaries to the raging torrent feeding the lake. The level must have risen at least a foot and a half in a couple of days and that’s a lot of water!

Pushing the barrow from the car was a nightmare as, not only did the wheel sink into the mud under the weight of my carp fishing tackle, but so did my boots and a brisk Easterly wind greeted me as I eventually popped out of the trees at the lakeside. The things we do to go carp fishing! It didn’t look ideal and I spent the first few hours just looking around, walking and squelching my way in and out of the bays, hoping to see a sign or two. About lunchtime the sun broke through and, despite the wind, it was actually quite warm. All of the fish caught up until now had been at range in the main section of the lake and it was to there that my gaze was fixed when a movement at my feet caught my attention. Looking down, straight into the extreme and waved lashed flooded margin I was amazed at the sight that greeted me, there on the shelf, not three feet away were four carp all busy exploring the extra little bit of lake that the floods had provided.

I didn’t need telling twice, I was off for the rods and pretty soon had my traps set, just on the drop off of the marginal shelf, no more than two rod lengths from the bank. The fish had disappeared but, considering how close they had been I knew they wouldn’t be far away and, ten minutes later, I was proved right. Obviously, at such close range, the run was pretty impressive and I sprayed muddy water everywhere as I charged through the flood to reach the rod. The fish was horrified at being tripped up so easily and tried it’s hardest to reach sanctuary back out in the middle of the lake but at close quarters the tip section of the TF Gear Nan-Tec rods really comes into play and it easilly absorbed the initial surge and I turned the fish over within the first ten yards and it was then just a case of keeping him off balance, leading him one way and then the next until he waved the white flag and came up spluttering at the net.

At twenty four pounds he was a perfect start to the session, a long common from under the rod tips, a far cry from the previous week when I had been struggling to add every extra inch possible to the cast in an attempt to reach the horizon.

Although the fish activity quietened down after this, the wind kept up its assault and I knew the fish wouldn’t stray beyond the boundaries of the swim so I set up the bivvy in the bushes on the only piece of comparatively dry ground I could find and settled in for the night.

The next morning I was up at very first light, as usual, as I find this first hour so important for fish spotting and this day was to be no different. During the first forty five minutes of daylight I saw two fish show, both of them straight in front of me at about twenty five yards range, a sighting I would have missed if I’d got up at six instead of five am. I instantly re-positioned all my rods and the results came almost immediately. In fact I was still firing out some freebies when the first rod ripped and, over the next few hours I banked a further three carp to add to my tally. This was incredible fishing, four carp in twenty four hours for a big old pit like this, and all of them close to the bank fishing straight into a big easterly wind. To me that just reinforces what a difference location makes as, apart from the two fish at dawn, I didn’t see another single carp roll the entire time I was there. I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled on my next trip and not just setting up on a hunch in a good looking swim, location, location, location, it really is the key.

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.

Dave Lane Carp Fishing Diary

On the Bank

At last, after what seems like an eternity with the lakes frozen solid and snow on the ground, we finally have a thaw.

Most of the lakes have returned to their liquid state over the past few days and once again little green houses are springing up all over the banks.

Personally I still have a couple of days left to wait before I can get out there but I have plenty of writing to do and a bit of tackle maintenance to keep me busy until then.

Just before the freeze up I was starting to get into the swing of things over at Monks pit. I had the twenty seven pound mirror that I wrote about, in the huge gale force winds and, the very next week, I managed to sneak out two more fish to add to the tally.

Having found an area where I could get a bite I had returned to the same swim and clipped the fishing rods up using the same bank-side markers as the previous week.

Luckily though, the weather was slightly more agreeable this time, although still extremely windy there had been a slight change in direction and it was predominately blowing over my shoulder, making the spodding of maggots and casting of PVA bags considerably easier.

With the rigs in position I settled in for the night as all the bites seem to be during the hours of darkness in the winter on Monks. All the bites on the bottom anyway as, once the zigs start to kick into gear, the daytimes become a lot more productive.

The first bite came at half past one, which is actually quite early and left me very hopeful for another one before dawn but it wasn’t to be because the next thing I knew was staring out at the sunrise.

At twenty six pounds I was well happy with my result but another fish would really have been the icing on the cake. I stuck the kettle on for the first brew of the day but, before it had got to the boil, one of the remaining rods was away, a daytime bite at last!

Although this fish was a bit smaller at just over twenty one pounds it gave me no end of grief, tangling in one of the other lines and, eventually, forcing me to go out in the boat to land it but at least I had a daylight photograph at the end of it, well worth a bit of mucking about on the water and getting cold and wet.

My next trip unfortunately coincided with the start of a vicious cold snap and, as I packed up after a blank two nights, I could see big sheets of ice forming out in the middle of the lake which is not a good sign at all. I’d spent the entire time fishing headfirst into a biting Easterly wind with night time temperatures well below zero, I was certainly glad of my Thermotex jacket that session I can tell you, I practically live in the thing at the moment as it’s the warmest piece of fishing clothing I’ve ever owned.

Once the wind died off though, it was odds on that the lake would freeze and the very next day I received a phone call to say the entire lake had iced over.

Now, three weeks later, I am checking lines, tying new rigs and getting ready for a new assault and I can’t wait!

Preparation

With the winter looking like it might well be coming to an end all eyes are on the future. Thoughts of spring, albeit a bit premature, are in everybody’s minds and plans are being made for the season ahead.

At this time of year I like to have a good old clean out of my tackle bags and check that everything is in tip top condition for the year ahead, after all, once the fishing really does get underway I am too busy to be bothered with routine maintenance and all I can think about is my next fish.

Lines are one of the most important things and we rely on them totally but, all too often, we don’t give them the attention they deserve. I have been guilty of it so many times in the past and I can still remember years ago, on Wraysbury, losing the fish of a lifetime one spring session because I hadn’t bothered to check the line that had sat on my spool all winter. It doesn’t take long to strip off three spools of line and re-load them with brand new monofilament or braid. I do mine in the garden using a bucket of water to place the new spool in and a soft glove to hold tension on the line, preventing finger burns from the friction and helping to keep the correct tension on the new line. I simply set up the rod and wind it straight out of the bucket onto the spool.

A spool of the new ‘Nan-Tech’ line costs under a tenner for a bulk spool that will easily load three reels which, I think, is a very small price to pay for total peace of mind.

I had a hand in the development of this line, recommending a supplier and line type that I had previously used and then improving the finished product by increasing the suppleness and abrasion resistance of the line so I can honestly recommend this as the best monofilament I’ve ever used, if it wasn’t then I would still be trying to develop one that was!

Dave Lane Carp Fishing Diary

Everything is starting to change over the lake now, the weed is a major factor in where you can fish and the clear spots are slowly being engulfed by acres of Canadian pondweed.

The swim that has been so kind to me over recent weeks is starting to resemble a football pitch and fishing over the top of 100yrds of weed does not come without it own problems, particularly boats and geese, in which the lake is now covered.

It seems as if every Canadian goose within a hundred mile radius has decided to roost on this one lake and the noise at night is astronomical as they all argue about who is sleeping where!

The fish have been behaving differently as well, I think the weed is actually putting them off a bit and I have been seeing more activity in deeper areas, where the weed is not so established and the carp have got somewhere to actually swim about without battling through the underwater forests.

As a result I spent my next session in an area that I have named South Park, a large deep bay at the southern end of the pit, an area where I was seeing more and more early morning shows, mostly at range over the deep water.

My first session produced two fish, which was an encouraging start but, after having a good look from the boat, I realised I was actually fishing the wrong side of the bay. I was casting huge distances to land in slightly shallower water, just up against the weed but, by fishing the opposite bank, I could fish over the weed and half the distance which, in turn, increased my accuracy no end.

Next trip down I knew exactly where I wanted to be and, luckily, the swim was free when I arrived.

With the spots already noted from the previous week is was a relatively easy task to get all three rods sorted, even taking in to account a near gale force wind that was whipping across the surface. Setting up the new Hardcore Bivvy was a bit of fun as the gusts must have been in excess of fifty miles an hour but, once up and pegged out, it was as solid as a rock which was a good test for a new product and one that it passed with flying colours.

The first bite came a couple of hours later and by then the wind was savage, so savage in fact that I could hardly hold the rod up straight. All of my braided mainline was out of the water and being held up in a huge bow by the wind, even with a lively carp on the end. The poor fish spent most of the fight on the surface, being pounded by the waves and he was probably quite relieved when he ended up in the comparative calm of the landing net. At twenty pounds he wasn’t the biggest in the world but a great start and what a blinding looking carp as well, a real pearler and one for the future.

Despite managing to get the bait back in position it was well into darkness before it ripped off again, the wind had abated a tiny bit by then and the fight was a little more predictable, especially when it ended up buried in the weed a short way out. Because of the conditions I had to enlist the help of another angler but, between us, we soon had matters under control and lovely, old looking thirty pound mirror was hoisted into the cradle in the bottom of the boat.

I was happy with my two fish for the session, my plan had come together nicely and I don’t think I would even have been able to reach them from the original swim, especially with a hooligan wind blowing in from the side the whole time.

Before leaving I managed one more trip in the boat and treated all my marks to a fair scattering of free bait, something to keep the carp interested and the swim primed for the next week, a method that seems to pay off really well at this time of year, I couldn’t wait to get back for another go.

BELOW THE SURFACE

Towards the end of summer the weed is at it’s most prolific and finding clear spots is paramount to success. I am lucky at the moment as in I can use a boat to see what is going on and, with the help of a glass bottomed bucket, I can really see the difference between different areas and how the weed layout effect the fish. From the bank this is a bit more difficult but it’s worth investing a bit of time with a marker or just a lead on a braided line to ensure that the spots you are fishing are really as good as the first might seem. We are now getting a lot of silkweed appearing, stifling previously clear areas but, more importantly, stifling the weed and this is often the beginning of the end for the larger weed beds as the silkweed will choke the light and kill of the weed below. This is when the fun really begins as huge areas of uprooted weed start to drift around the lake wiping out your lines, I can hardly wait!

TACKLE TALK

I mentioned the Hardcore bivvy earlier and, now the weather is starting to cut up a bit, it’s important to have a house you can trust. The Hardcore bivvy is a fantastic bit of fishing gear and I’m not just saying that because I designed it either. It has everything that I thought was important and all the components are interchangeable or removable so, in essence, you can build everything from the basic pram hood umbrella up to a porched two man shelter with overwrap. It also has a removable front section that you can exchange for a full mozzie panel with just one zip movement.

The main thing for me though is the strength, I like to be able to use one shelter all year around and be safe in the knowledge that it will still be there when I wake up, no matter what the British weather can throw at it and the design agle of the poles on the Hardcore Bivvy ensure maximum strength with minimum weight.

30lb Carp on someone else’s line…

An unusually story, but something that does get you thinking –  We recently had an email to our TFG customer services account with the attached story.

‘An unusual event on Friday 23 Sept regarding the landing of a lovely 30 pound carp at Lake John, Waltham Abbey’.

‘As the gates were due to shut at 7.00pm, I was beginning to start packing up at 6.00 so pulled in my carp rods then cast out my light float fishing rod towards the middle of the lake from Peg 38. This was set at a depth of about 2 1/2 foot fishing for skimmers. I then had a bite and connected with a heavy fish. Playing it very carefully for about 20 minutes and getting the fish within about 30 feet from the bank, I saw my float then to my astonishment I saw another float a couple of feet below mine. I immediately thought that I had crossed lines with an angler to my right. However, he had already left and there was no one else. I reeled in a bit more but then realised that I could not land it because the float would obviously be trapped at the end of my rod with still about 20 feet of line to the fish (which I had yet to see, but knew was a decent size judging by the swirl of water below the surface).

By this time the angler on the next peg to the left had come round to see what I was hooked into. We then agreed that the only thing to do was for me to slowly walk back 20 feet to enable him to net the fish. I proceeded to do this with my heart thumping, given that my main line was only 6 lb and a size 12 hook which was obviously going to take a great deal of strain at this final stage. Thank God he netted it safely and then commented that it was a very big fish. I had not seen the size of the carp as the reeds and bank had been obscuring my view.

Imagine my surprise on realising how big the fish was (my language was a little colourful at this stage out of relief and pride). I am very grateful to ‘John fromEnfield’ who kept his cool and enabled me to land my PB even though it was not on my bait. It was amazing that my hook had somehow tangled with the original line and had held fast without parting. What are the odds on this happening again?!!

A day to remember. Yet another good day at Lake Johnas I had already caught carp of 14 and 18 pounds using some of my favourite carp fishing tackle. I would like to let you know that I can recommend and congratulate you on your TF-Gear Allrounder fishing rod. It offers me the chance to fish any method with just one rod.

A footnote though, the fish was in good condition and showed no ill affects even though the original hook was very large indeed ( looked like a sea  fishing hook to me). The weight was 31.4 pounds. The fish was returned safely and happily without the excess hook and line to grow even bigger.’

My personal best -David Chaston