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Dave Coster's Fishing Diary- April 2019

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Dave Coster's Fishing Diary- April 2019

It was more like winter than spring at the beginning of April. Still a bit too cold to think about bagging up on methods like the pellet waggler, so for my first outing of the month I decided to have a go with an insert waggler and casters, in the shallower part of the Match Lake at Woodland Waters. I picked out a modified peacock float with a medium hollow plastic tip - one of the first prototypes that led to the Advanta thin and thick tipped versions you can now buy in Angling Direct shops. Hollow tipped wagglers are so much easier to see, thanks to their translucent nature.

I discovered around 4ft of water close to a small island in the far corner, not totally convinced this would be quite deep enough considering the chill factor. I needn’t have worried. It took a good hour before I started getting bites, but then things started to happen.

I had kicked off with four medium balls of groundbait, laced with chopped worms and casters, lobbed in underarm to a comfortable casting distance. After that I was loose feeding casters by catapult, putting in small amounts every cast.


I started with a single red maggot on a small size 18 hook, but this only resulted in tiny roach. Switching to a single caster increased the size of the roach straight away. To begin with the fish averaged 4 to 8oz, but as my constant loose feeding built the swim up, bigger samples arrived. I resisted the temptation to introduce any more groundbait, because when fish are competing for loose feed in your swim, balls of groundbait over their heads normally scare them off.

Although there were a couple of spells when the rate of bites slowed down, I was glad I didn’t risk spoiling the swim by hitting it harder with crumb and more freebies, because eventually even bigger roach moved in. These shy old fish rarely venture anywhere near piles of bait. They have seen it all before and hang back off the main feed area, which is why I often try the odd cast a bit further out.

I ended up with well over 20 lbs of red fins, topped off with one or two absolute corkers.

Bailiff Pete stopped by to tell me big roach were still showing on the Specimen Lake too, which was good to hear.


I had missed the first two Willows AC matches due to the Northern Angling show at Manchester and the Big One event at Farnborough. I met quite a few old friends at these incredibly busy shows and wasn’t expecting to bump into yet another on my first outing with the club this year at Stretton. I did a double take when Sensas man Stewart Redman turned up. He used to pop in when I had a tackle shop in London several decades ago, also fishing the same match circuit with me on the River Lea and Grand Union Canal. It was great to catch up, but now we had another challenge. It was a bitterly cold day again for April and a nasty wind was blowing down the snake-like lake. I drew a peg with no shelter, plus my island, one of the many dotted down the middle, had collapsed in. A goose was standing in just inches of water a couple of feet away from it, which wasn’t good news, because you really need to pole fish the far side rat holes to catch carp on venues like this.


I fed two pole lines, one short of the island, in the deepest water I could find and a reserve area down the margin to my left. There was a small willow tree overhanging the water here and I fancied it could be worth a few carp later in the day.

I was hoping for plenty of silver fish like roach and skimmers on my main pole line, which has worked well for me in the past on this lake. But on this occasion it took ages to get bites and when the skimmers did turn up, it was slow going, with very few roach mixed in with them. Most of the skimmers were hand sized and when bigger ones did appear, I lost several off the hook as they were not really feeding properly.

I was forced to take a look down the nearside margin earlier than I had wanted, trying paste and pellets aimed at carp, but to begin with only a couple of skimmers resulted. I fed again and it wasn’t until much later in the match before the carp switched on. They weren’t that big though, so I only ended up with just over 20lbs.

Mick Farrant won the day with 34lbs of carp, while the best silver fish catch was 17lbs of skimmers and roach taken by Stewart Redman. I just managed to sneak into the section money with my haul.


As April progressed it was still unseasonably cold, with the chilly wind persisting as well. For my next trip I thought it would be a good idea to try somewhere sheltered. I had heard of a small lake just outside Grantham that was supposed to hold crucian carp. I tried looking it up on the Internet but not knowing what the place was called, couldn’t find out anything about it. I loaded up my car anyway and set off in the direction of the village of Lenton, where the water was supposed to be by the side of the road.

For somewhere off the beaten track, the lake was surprisingly easy to find. It looked nice with an island in the middle and about an acre of water to play with. A sign said to pay in the nearby farm, but a nice lady there told me to get fishing and someone would drop by for the day ticket money, which was just a fiver. The sign also gave me the name of the place, which was Lavington Lake.


I set up a waggler rig, not knowing what to expect. It turned out the lake was quite shallow where I had parked my seatbox. I began by loose feeding maggots but that brought an unexpected problem in the shape of gudgeon. I normally associate this species with canals, so quite how they had found their way into an isolated lake like this was a mystery. I quickly changed over to feeding casters, but the gudgeon problem persisted, so I moved on to pellets. The gudgeon were still nibbling at pellet hook baits, signalled by small trembles on my float tip, but they couldn’t quite swallow them.


After feeding pellets for a while the swim woke up with a string of lively 1 to 2lb carp, followed by a couple of bigger 3 to 4lb fish. I then started missing shy bites where the float dithered and dipped but didn’t go completely under. I was wondering if the gudgeon were back when I connected with one of these half takes, and a juddering fight resulted in a small crucian carp. Another couple of these fish followed.

During all the action the farmer turned up for his day ticket money and told me there were also rudd and tench in the lake. Groundbait isn’t allowed by way, along with boilies, barbed hooks and keepnets. An interesting find with easy parking and worth another look when the weather warms up.


My mate Andy Griffiths was around for the long Easter Bank Holiday weekend. It was going to be hot and sunny, at long last! Only problem was, this type of weather makes the going hard on a lot of venues, so we decided to have a couple of days on Willow Lakes Fishery at Foston. There’s lots of tree cover on this day ticket complex, plus the layout provides plenty of other features, which helps to keep the fish feeding, no matter what conditions are like.

We both like Poplar Lake in particular because it presents an unusual challenge in that it’s very shallow. Most swims are only a couple of feet deep, but amazingly you normally get a bite a chuck on this place. Andy, as usual, decided an all-out attack with his favourite chocolate orange pellets.


I had decided to fish with a mixture of Dynamite’s Robin Red pellets and casters, aiming to bag up on the big shoals of skimmers and roach this lake holds. I cupped in a light dose of pellets and loose fed casters over the top. A good trick I have learned on this shallow water is not to fish too far out with the pole. For some reason the bigger skimmers and bream don’t show up that well on the long pole, but they do turn up around the 8-metre mark.

As is normal for this lake it was instant action. I had set two rigs up, one to fish a few inches over-depth and a light strung set up. I caught just as fast on both, finding the over-depth tackle caught skimmers and the on-the-drop set up caught roach. I switched about, landing bonus carp on both rigs, despite using fine wire hooks and light line.


As the session progressed the fish got steadily bigger, resulting in a couple of proper bream towards the end. I had mainly caught on a single caster but also found small soft pellets worked well for the skimmers, particularly when the bigger ones moved in late. When I lifted my keepnet out, the bottom section was half full with fish, too many to pile into a landing net for a catch shot. Andy took a couple of quick photos, but the bigger carp and bream were swamped out by smaller fish. I tipped them all back fast, because I didn’t want to keep my catch out of the water for long in the hot conditions.

Andy reckoned I had just beaten him. He had caught more carp than me, but less silvers for around 35lbs. He gave me the edge with 40lbs, a good mix of roach, skimmers, bream and those bonus carp.


Next day we fished the same lake again, only this time a bit closer to the far end caravans, where there was a little more cover. It was a fraction deeper too. I decided to fish a section shorter on the pole, concentrating more on pellets to see if I could line the skimmers up better. Andy opted for an attacking mode on the long pole, using bigger 6mm pellets to try and avoid the small fish and find more carp.

While Andy soon had a couple of decent carp in his keepnet, my first proper net fish turned out to be my biggest crucian carp for a long time, well over the one-pound mark. Funny how I haven’t caught this species for a long time and suddenly they seemed to be turning up everywhere.


The rest of the day went like a blur, both of us catching well. Andy having to wait longer for bites, but when they came mostly decent sized carp resulted. These fish went like the clappers in the shallow water, especially a double figure ghost carp he latched into. I think I caught half a dozen skimmers while he was playing just that one lively fish!

I had discovered the skimmers came a lot quicker every time I cupped in some pellets; they were really fizzing over them. It was noticeable now I wasn’t feeding casters that there were far fewer roach than the day before.

Andy caught a tench and a few minutes later I had one turn up amongst the skimmers. During the last hour, better sized fish around the pound mark moved in and I really bumped up my catch. Andy estimated he had close to 40lbs but once again conceded the honours to me by a couple of pounds.


I still had plenty of bait left over from the holiday weekend, so I decided to try one of the other lakes at Willows, now it was a lot quieter, angler wise. I seem to remember catching crucians from Sycamore Lake a couple of years ago, so I thought it would be great to finish off April with more of this species. Strangely, I noticed this lake didn’t have an angler on it over the busy weekend, the same applied on this occasion, but I had made up my mind to give it a go anyway.

I only set up two pole rigs. One to fish at full depth, which was around 4 feet and a light, strung rig set a foot off bottom. I cupped in some pellets and catapulted casters over the top. Dropping in with a soft pellet on my full depth rig to begin with and was immediately attached to a lively carp. Quality roach followed a few minutes later when I tried my shallow set rig with casters, before another carp butted in. A run of rudd followed, then another couple of carp.

After that I nailed a pellet hard on the deck and sure enough, similar finicky bites followed that those golden crucians had given me earlier in the month at Lavington Lake. Only this time I was using pole tackle and started to connect with them straight away. I ended up catching loads of chunky crucians, along with a couple of late skimmers and a few bigger F1 carp. The end of a golden month.
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