Dave Lane Carp Fishing Diary | July

Dave Lane Early Twenty Carp

What a wonderful week to be British!

The British and Irish Lions have won the tour in Australia; and had me leaping all around the room like an over excited schoolboy, Andy Murray has become Wimbledon champion and, hopefully, we will win the ashes as well in a few days’ time to ice the cake off nicely.

To top it all off the sun is shining and it looks like staying that way for a week or two, I am off on holiday to even sunnier Spain and everything is at one with the world, well my little world anyway!

The carp fishing hasn’t been exactly fantastic though and, in true British style, I think we can blame a lot of that on the weather leading up to this current hot spell.

I think this burst of summer however, will be exactly what the doctor ordered and I am expecting to return to lakes that have finally seen a proper spawning and are full of hungry carp.

Now is the time to be out there looking at what the lakes contain, getting to know your quarry and, hopefully, nicking the odd fish out of the edge or, even better, off the top.

I love surface fishing and I hope there is still a bit of nice weather in store for me to try my hand at it this year.

Nothing is quite as exciting as watching a set of lips close around the hook-bait and feeling that wall of resistance as you set the hook. The explosive nature of a fish hooked at close quarters off the surface is awesome and I can’t wait to give it a try.

I have been getting amongst a few lately though, mainly from shallow water spots in the margins or on bars as the carp have seemed reluctant to feed at all in the deeper water, although I am sure this will soon change.

I had a close encounter with a couple of bigger fish on my new pit the other day, not monsters but still a better stamp than I have been seeing although it didn’t end the way I had planned.

I had just spent hours getting my carp fishing baits into position without spooking the fish and I was pacing the banks waiting for the inevitable bite.

When it did come however, it turned out to be a small mirror that had somehow impaled the hook in its flank. Needless to say he then managed to spook every decent fish in sight and I was left right back where I started.

I moved the next morning and managed to find a few more carp to fish for but, unfortunately, they were not of the same ilk, although I did bag my biggest so far at 23lb pictured above.

The previous week was also an exciting trip when I spotted a group of carp milling around a weed-bed next to a small island. A shallow bar connects the bank to the island so I was able to put on my thigh waders and wade right out to them and place bait with deadly accuracy. Back on the bank I could sit there in total confidence that I was fishing as well as I possibly could.

It’s so hard not to keep checking a spot, even when you know everything is spot on, I just need to see the fish and know what they are up to at all times.

Luckily I didn’t have to wait too long, although it seemed like days at the time, and by the time it grew dark I had managed to land three carp, two twenties and a nineteen pounder.

So, even with the weather keeping the fish in a strange mood, it is still possible to trick the odd one into feeding; it’s just a matter of finding the right spot on the day.

Keeping the bait to a sensible level also helps, if the fish are lethargic for most of the time then there is no reason to assume they will suddenly eat ten kilos of bait just because it has grown dark. Quite often when it is as hot as this they hardly move from their daytime haunts throughout the night and can often be found in the same spots as soon as it is light enough to see.

Anyway, I am off to lay in the sun for a while so tight lines while I am gone and, hopefully, stalk yourselves out a few monsters while I am away.

Trotting our way into Spring

As we reach the last few days of the season there is no better time to be out with your fishing rods, trotting the odd red maggot into an unwary shoal of Grayling or Roach. As winter slips into spring the rivers become slightly warmer and the days that little bit longer which provokes a strong feeding urge in most of our fish species. There is no better time of the year to target roach especially as they are fighting fit in readiness for their spawning activities in a month or so’s time.

I have been fortunate to fish a couple of exclusive sections of two of the Southern Chalk rivers, the Test and the Wylye but returned for a very pleasant trip on a small river much closer to home, the Lugg. Each river is very different from the rest and my approach had to reflect those changes in the methods used, here is how I went about it.

The Test was my first port of call, its a trip I make most years and I know that the fishing will be relatively easy but you still get more out of it the harder you work. I used a 13′ float rod with a very soft tip as I was predominantly fishing for the grayling that swim there in large numbers and they have an uncanny knack of shedding hooks due to their twisting action during the fight. My ‘secret weapon’ when grayling fishing is the Guru QM1 hook, its circular design helps to secure a firm hook-hold and I find that more fish are landed as a result. They are barbless and easy to remove from landed fish indeed often the hook falls out in the net. I tied a size 16 or 14 to a 4lb hooklink attached to 6lb mainline which may sound strong but, it was low visibility fluorocarbon and, as the river is very fast, the fish have little time to decide whether to take the bait or ignore it, so there is no point in going ultra fine. The other factor in choosing line strength was the presence of numerous large brown trout which ignore the fact that they are out of season and gorge on the bait, fish up to 15lbs have been landed and their toothy mouths and powerful fight makes short work of light tackle.

Although the river was only 3 to 4 feet deep I put most of the bulk shot about 15′ from the hook with a no4 dropper 10” below that to get the bait to run deep and I was immediately into a shoal of grayling taking several over a pound in the first hour.

Fishing with my mate Tony, we leapfrogged down the fishery trying several glorious runs and pools catching more grayling, numerous trout to about 4lbs (I lost one much bigger!) and a few roach albeit mine only went to 12oz whereas Tony had one knocking the door of 2lbs and another almost as big. We both scored best with red maggot as bait whereas on some days its sweetcorn that sorts out the better fish. I did find that sweetcorn attracted the attentions of too many trout so I baited with corn to keep them chasing the yellow grains whilst I trotted maggots beneath, it seemed to work well on the day and it shows that experimenting with bait is always worthwhile.

The next day saw us fishing a tiny tributary of the Wylye where you could almost touch the opposite bank with the rod tip. A smaller float shotted ‘shirt button’ style was called for. This means  spreading the shot evenly spaced down the line (like shirt buttins) which allows the bait to drop slowly through the shallow water and also enables the angler to hold back and get the bait to rise up off the bottom so, by holding back, you can get your gear to negotiate depth changes and weedbeds along the run. Also, holding back and letting the bait rise is an enticing movement often irresistible to fish.

For such a small river the fish stocks are astounding and we caught countless grayling from a number of different features, my best, which must have been very close if not over the magic two pound mark, came from a slightly deeper bend where I had bites from just one small area beneath an overhanging branch.

The last swim we stopped at was in the main river and is renowned for it’s abundance of grayling and Tony had the privilege of fishing it. He had switched to his old split cane float rod and had countless grayling testing its soft action. I borrowed it and had a few myself, it reminded me of the rods I used as a kid but I was also struck by the forgiving nature of the cane and how it absorbed every lunge of the grayling, the old rod and the new hooks meant that every fish hooked was landed in that pool and that, for those of you that grayling fish, is food for thought.

Back on home soil I was after chub on a narrow, overgrown river, time for a tackle change. I have a Drennan float rod designed for carp fishing, it is however, perfect for chub and barbel and can be used as an 11 or 13 footer. I opted for the 11′ version and set about trotting any likely looking swim. I was using a 3 AAA balsa and can float which was shotted fairly well down with a single no4 shot between the bulk and the hook as the current was quite fast and I wanted to get my bait down quickly. I had a 5lb hooklength and was again using the wonderful Guru QM1 in a size 16.

I had my first bite by slowing the float right down and letting the bait waft up a little off the bottom at the end of the swim, a 2lb chub couldn’t resist the two red maggots and it fought hard in the tight swim seeking sanctuary amongst the overhanging branches of a willow tree. I have always found that balanced tackle will stand a lot of pressure and have landed much bigger chub on much lighter gear albeit in far less snaggy waters but, as long as you move smoothly and let the rod absorb the lunges, you can steer hard fighting fish with relative ease. This point was proved with the biggest fish of the day, a chub not far short of 4lbs that got stuck around a branch but, by walking down to point opposite it, my constant pressure slowly brought it back into the current and eventually to the waiting net.

In these days of our obsession with bigger fish the humble float gear seems to be ignored by many anglers which is a pity, it really is a great way to learn about the contours of the river and the art of presenting a bait on the float will bring guaranteed pleasure. The other benefit of trying it nowadays is that so few are actually doing it, its a method that is unknown to many of the fish. Go back a few years and everybody float fished to a point where it was often necessary to go ultra-fine to entice the wisest fish but nowadays they are as green as grass so you can get away with quite robust gear on many rivers so it is still a viable method for chub and barbel but with the possibility of having some wonderful sport out coarse fishing. Give it a go.

First Carp on a New Venue

After almost 12 months travelling around, field testing my baits at different venues and having amazing results, I decided to sign up to a club water. This happened to be the Fendrod in Swansea. With the excitement to get fishing, I left the house without a kettle; luckily it was a pleasant night and the weather was fair.

I arrived at the lake and was amazed by the beauty of a local authority lake. As it was my first time fishing the venue, I had no knowledge of the place, so I decided to fish far enough away from the other anglers and found a peg I liked the look of and put my bivvy up.

I began with a few casts using my TF Gear X-Plus Marker rod, and found it was pretty flat and gravely in front of my swim; but it was also shallow which explained why all the anglers were to the right of me in the deeper water. So after a good hour of searching for a spot to fish, I decide to clip all three of my rods up to a spot of gravel at around 80 yards out.

My Rod set up at Fenrod

My Rod set up at Fenrod

My plan of attack was to spod 8mm and 4mm pellets maggots and some Beast Feast 20mm and 14mm boilies, then dust the whole mix off with Beast Feast stick-mix.

The reason there is a variety of sizes of bait and colours is for the visual attraction, and also because the carp are picking different weights of baits which keep them guessing.

Mixed bait

Mixed bait

The rig set up was kept as simple as possible with my own little twist. The components you will need to tie this rig are all available from Fishtec: a kurv shank hook of any size you choose to use (in this chase I’m using korda size 8 hooks), a korda flexi ring swivel pair of sharp scissors (ideally braid scissors), a puller tool to get the knots tight, medium sized rig rings, a slice of shrink tube, a needle , TFG putty, a spool of thread and – last but not least – 20lb soft gravel brown korda braid.

Items used to tie the rig

Items used to tie the rig

Once you have all the components, firstly take off about 9 inches of braid and then strip of two inches of the coating. Tie a rig ring on to the stripped bit using a half blood knot, then pull a bait over the rig ring so you can get you desired length of hair. Once it is to the length required, tie a knotless knot onto the hook. Slide a strip of shrink tube on to the hook to act as a blow back rig, then shrink it by placing it over steam (watch your fingers!). The final step is to tie a grinner knot onto the flexi ring swivel and as you tighten this knot make sure you moisten with a little saliva so it does not strip any of the coating off near the swivel and make sure it will not slip bye giving it a final tug with the puller tool. Place a little blob of putty on the non-stripped bit of braid and the rig is ready to go.

Completed rig - without bait

Completed rig - without bait

As you’ve probably noticed, there is only one thing missing from this rig: bait. I only use this rig when I want to fish a single boilie and maggots at the same time ,and this is where the needle and the thread come into play. Firstly place your chosen boilie on a gate latch needle and gently push it over the rig ring.

Placing the boilie onto the rig (1)

Placing the boilie onto the rig (1)

Boilie fixed to the rig ring

Boilie fixed to the rig ring

Grab a decent sized needle and some thread – cut off a 7 inch strand, then push through the needle eye. Slowly begin to put maggots on the needle and slide them down onto the thread (if you put the needle point through the bigger end of the maggot they will survive longer therefore being far more attractive under the water).

Sliding maggots down the needle onto the thread

Sliding maggots down the needle onto the thread

Once you have put maggots on the thread (10 to 15 is usually ample) slowly take the thread of the needle and then bunch all the maggots up as illustrated.

Maggots bunched up on the thread

Maggots bunched up on the thread

The final stage is to put one end of the thread through the rig ring, followed by two over-hand knots to secure the maggots in place. You’ll left with a presentation (illustrated below), and there’s no doubt you’ll soon be saying, “that’s a bite.”

Maggots secured to the rig ring

Maggots secured to the rig ring

The final presentation

The final presentation

And a bite it was! I topped up the swim later in the evening, as I had problems with ducks diving for the baits during daylight. At 5:30am the next morning I had a screaming take; after a long fight I managed to land this beautiful 20lb 4oz common. This made my day as it was the first fish I had caught on the Fenrod.

The end result - a 20lb 4oz Common Carp

The end result - a 20lb 4oz Common Carp

Carp fishing in the Margins

How many of us inspect the margins when we arrive at a lake?

You might want to, if you want to improve your catch rate. Fishing for carp in the margins can be extremely productive if you find the right places and apply good angling tactics. How many fishermen/fisherwomen ignore the margins when fishing? They see all that water out in front of them and think that the fish must be out there. I often see anglers using three fishing rods with all of them cast out to the far bank. With so many anglers casting out far it makes the margins a safe place for carp to hang out. In fact, the margins can even be the best places to target the bigger carp in the lake.

Fishing in the Margins

Fishing in the Margins

As long as you’re quiet when setting up your carp fishing tackle and actually fishing, you can take fish from the margins in most lakes. Carp have great hearing and will be able to pick up vibrations from the surrounding bank, so you do need to be as quiet as possible.

Centre Pin Fishing Reel

Centre Pin Fishing Reel

When it comes to margin fishing I tend to use a small 8ft rod and centre pin reel; this allows me to fish in-between trees, and other places where it would be hard to use a 12ft rod. It’s best to wear dark green or brown fishing clothing, or better still, use camouflage clothing, as you can blend into the surrounding. I like to find the more subtle features rather than the obvious ones such as overhanging trees, island banks, etc. I like to look for features like undercut banks, posts or trees sticking out of the water, small bulrushes, bushes, lily pads or inlet pipes all these can be ideal feeding spots for carp.

Carp taking bait

Carp taking bait

I like to use a small float, 8lb fluorocarbon line and a size 10 hook partnered with good quality bait. One of my best methods is to wrap paste around a small boilie, many fish have taken using this approach, as the carp are not wised up to these methods. So as the weather starts to warm up go out and have a go, this is a very rewarding way of catching carp guaranteed to provide a good fight whatever size fish you’ve hooked into.

Landing the Carp

Landing the Carp

All the best and good fishing!

Fantastic result!

Fantastic result!

What Types of PVA are available?

Tape

Tape can be used to form stringers or for tying off the tops of solid PVA bags. Tape also has several advantages over PVA string. It doesn’t shrink in water. Due to its thicker profile, the tape holds strung baits better, great for long-range casting. Also, this thicker profile opens a bigger hole in the free baits, allowing more scent to be released, enticing the Carp in.

PVA Tape

PVA Tape

Solid Bags

Flat, solid bags that can be filled with all manner of freebies, regardless of the size of bait used. Their disadvantages are that they are slow to form and tie, always pierce solid PVA bags with a baiting needle, as this will help the trapped air escape, preventing it from floating.

PVA Solid Bags

PVA Solid Bags

Mesh

Made from woven PVA thread, this stocking material having an open weave, doesn’t suffer from trapped air. Usually comes in long lengths allowing bags of any size to be made up. The other advantage of mesh is that they are much quicker to make than their solid counterparts.

PVA Mesh

PVA Mesh

Rig Foam

These buoyant nuggets are either hooked on to or folded over the hook before casting. Once in the water, they hold the hook off the bottom until the nugget dissolves. The hook will then gently settle on to the bottom of the lake. Rig foam is indispensable when fishing over silt or weed, getting your bait where you want it without the worry of loosing any fishing tackle. When the rig is cast in, the lead will either sink into the silt or dive into the weed and the rig foam will help stop your hook from being masked.

PVA Rig Foam

PVA Rig Foam

PVA Liquid Bags

Small stamp size PVA bags that are filled with liquid, such as flavours, slimes or dips. This is a great edge when you are fishing single hookbaits. The liquid puts out a strong level of attraction into the swim, but the only food item is your hookbait. It can be placed on to your hook or placed inside any PVA for a extra edge.

PVA Liquid Bags

PVA Liquid Bags

Back to Barbel

I didn’t get to do much barbel fishing last season, but having just acquired a ticket for a pike lake which also has a stretch of river with some prime barbel fishing, I thought it was time to get back out on the banks and try out some new fishing rods like the TF Gear Classic.

Now I may be shooting myself in the foot a bit here, but with the popularity of commercial carp fishing at the moment our riverbanks are almost deserted so finding good fishing isn’t a problem. I’m lucky in that I live only a short distance from some superb barbel fishing, maybe not the record breaking fish of the Ouse but plenty of double figured fish if you put the work into finding them.

Coarse Fishing Tackle Used

Rods

I try to keep as mobile as possible so keep the tackle down to a minimum. Most of my barbeling these days is done on the river Wye and I find the Tfgear new Classic barbel rod is spot on for this. Most of the time the 1.5lb test curve is great, sometimes I’ll up it to the 2lb test curve when I need to use a bit more weight to hold bottom, sometimes upto 5oz. I’m not a great fan of carp rods and bite alarms for barbel fishing and this is just a personal choice.

The Author with a Barbel

The Author with a Barbel

Reels

I use a baitrunner type reel for my barbel fishing which can be set to give line on the take, barbel takes can be very savage at times and the baitrunner type reel can prevent the rod from being dragged of the rod rest. A good drag system to one of the most important features that any barbel reel can have and I find the Tfgear Force 8 GT free spool perfect.

Main Line

I have to admit that I’m a fan of TFGear grunt braid for most of my barbel fishing except were there are a lot of rocks and snags on the river bed I would then go for TFGear red mist monofilament in 10lb which has great abrasion resistance.

Rigs and Bait

Again I keep things simple with my rigs, a standard running rig with either a braided or fluorocarbon hooklink to a hair rigged hook. Bait wise halibut pellets are still top of the list and have incredible pulling power; I generally decant some of the mixed halibut pellets into a smaller container, just enough for a session. Small mesh pva bags are made up on the bank and just nicked onto the hook. Another great rig is Matt’s time bomb feeder.

Retaining Barbel

One last and very important point, barbel have no place in keepnets but it is also very dangerous especially after a prolong fight to release the fish straight back into a fast flowing river. I always leave the fish resting in the margins in the landing net for a few minutes to let it regain its strength.

A Barbel

A Barbel

A Day Session Success

I decided to go down to the new lake I’ve started fishing this year and complete a short five hour session on the bank, just to get to grips with the water and hopefully locate any moving carp. This seemed somewhat a difficult task as the lake is 75 acres with just under 100 known carp to its name. So expecting no great achievements for the foreseeable future I set up for the session. As I was doing so I surprisingly caught a glimpse of a carp roll about 50 yards out by a small weedy patch. As any carper would probably do, I decided to put a bright coloured bait and a PVA bag filled with 10 boilies and a small amount of pellets over the top of it. Then all I had to do was wait line tightened and Delkin bite alarm turned on.
In the meantime I put some of my favourite rigs together ready to put my other two rods out.

I always prefer to fish the withy rig in the margins usually over a bed of hot chilli hemp. I find this is a good method for picking up carp patrolling close in and it is easy to get all the hemp out in the required spots.

For a long distance rod I like to paste up 2 boilies on the hair and pair it with a PVA bag cast out as far as I can. The paste starts to leak flavour the moment it hits the water providing an ideal attraction needed especially on a shorter session. I enjoy picking fish up from the depths of the lake they always seem to fight that little bit better

Then it was time to get my other rods out, I landed the second rod to the left of me about 20 yards out in the margin and the third one 80 yards out in front of me. All was set and I was ready for a cup of tea as I sat down, with my son Rhys, watching the water for any movement of fish.

Not too many minutes later I had 2 bleeps on my margin rod, then it stopped, within ten minutes the rod scream off and I was in to a hard fighting fish. It soon gave up and in the net it went, at last my first fish on the bank and it wasn’t looking like one of the smaller ones either. Out came the scales, then to my surprise it weighed in at 32lb not bad for a few hours even if I do say so myself.

I was on cloud nine, but I still had time to catch other carp, this time I wadded out and dropped a few handfuls of hemp in the same place and slowly lowered my hook bait over the top of it. Then I spent the next 20 minutes watching the water hoping in anticipation for any more action.

As I looked out to the lake I noticed some bubbles about 70 yards out, not far from my bait, I watched and there seemed to be more than one fish feeding in the area with bubbles coming up all around. Numerous thoughts were going through my head shall I pull one rod in and put a bait over there? Or do I hope the fish will stay in the area and get onto my bait later? I went for the second approach. Well I waited and waited but no sign of them coming out. It was time to pack up and go home, I was putting my second rod away when out of the blue my last rod screamed off. I was into my second fish, and was a bag of nerves for some reason playing this one. What a fight! As it pulled more line form my clutch, rod bent over I started gaining distance and the carp was getting closer. Then it made for the surface and rolled over when without warning the worse feeling you could ever have – a hook pull. I was so mad but then that’s fishing, I carried on packing away and took the long walk back to the van…