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Dave Coster's Fishing Diary December 2019

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Dave Coster's Fishing Diary December 2019

First Sunday of December was bitterly cold and there was a club match just up the road at Willow Lakes, Foston. After I’d scraped the frost off my car, I drove to Grantham services for a coffee and bite to eat. There was an icy wind howling across the car park, making me wonder if going fishing on such an arctic day was a sensible thing to do. However, after downing a sandwich and hot drink I decided to brave the weather, remembering the match lakes at Willows are quite sheltered, thanks to the embankment that separates them from the busy A1.

It turned out we were fishing Chestnut, a long lake with islands down the middle, which I hadn’t been on before and didn’t have a clue what to expect. I drew a confined peg with an island feature, only giving me 10 metres of water to play with. The surface was covered in cat ice, which I managed to shift quite easily using a cupping kit fitted to my pole.

The angler to my right caught a few small fish during the first hour on punched bread, while I didn’t get the faintest resemblance of a bite. I tried red maggots, casters, pellets and small segments of worm. Two hours into the match I finally got a tiny indication on my pole float. I was fishing down the track at the time and my pole elastic suddenly started shooting out towards the next peg. I was on a light 0.12mm rig, but managed to keep in touch, landing a decent 6lb plus carp. To cut a long story short, that was my only action of the day.

Following the scales around it soon became apparent the fish were in isolated pockets and if you were lucky enough to find a shoal, they only wanted tiny amounts of feed. I noted that the winner was yet again, for the second match in a row, up the other end of the lake to where I had drawn. A few other anglers were not looking too delighted at the weigh in either.


I got a text telling me ace Grantham angler Chris was having a feeder contest with his mate Steve from nearby Spalding, on the Match Lake at Woodland Waters. I thought I’d tag along to see how it went, keeping well out of their way. I set up on the chalet bank. It’s a bit shallower here so I opted for the waggler, deciding to experiment with casters, maggots and 4mm pellets.

It was interesting to see Chris had set up a hybrid feeder with pellets, while Steve was on a conventional groundbait feeder with a traditional long hook length. Both anglers quickly started catching well, netting some decent sized bream. I was also catching lots of fish, mainly skimmers.

At the weigh in we all had a good laugh because Steve reckons his favourite Continental groundbait only attracts fish like bream and roach, so what was this carp doing in his net? He had told us he doesn’t do carp. As it turned out, the carp was a handy fish on this occasion as there was only ounces in it on the bream front. Just over 40 lbs each, so the carp conveniently won him the day.


I finished with a double figure catch of skimmers, plus a few roach on the waggler. I found I could catch odd roach on maggots or casters, but missed a lot of bites. In the end I caught best fishing a few inches over-depth, anchoring a 4mm expander pellet hard on the bottom, regularly catapulting 4mm pellets around my float. The fish didn’t really want maggots or casters on this occasion and the bigger roach seemed to have been put off my all the icy rainwater running into this lake.


Next outing was another club match, back on Hawthorn Lake at Willows, where I had drawn the dreaded caravan corner back in November. I drew next peg along this time for another cold, waterlogged day on the bank. I lost a good carp at the landing net early on and after that the only fish I caught was a tiny perch on half a lobworm, not the monster I was expecting when my float went under! That perch won me section money; it was that bad.

The only real exception was Alan Bilton, who won his third match on the trot with over 30lbs of mainly carp, finding the fish shoaled up in a small bay to his right. It was interesting that of the anglers who caught, they all said the fish were a long way off from where they had been feeding, in most instances several metres away. So, when it’s hard, it just goes to show it can pay off to search around your swim a bit more than usual. Then again, when I had a walk around the lake midway through the match, everyone seemed to be fishing really well, but not catching much.


Just before Christmas, bailiff Pete Lawler suggested we should have a knock up on the Small Carp Lake that’s on the left as you enter the Woodland Waters complex. I had never really bothered with this part of the fishery up to this point, thinking due to its name, it was another carp puddle.

Pete tackled up a waggler, while a few pegs along I set up a couple of pole rigs, as did Chris over to my right. It took Pete a while to start getting bites, while I was soon catching skimmers and Chris had started bagging up on roach. After a couple of hours Pete quickly overtook the both of us as he began to latch into carp, fishing close to an island feature.


By the halfway mark I had clouds of tiny bubbles fizzing over my two feed lines, where I had been cupping in micro pellets. I was rotating around these to try and speed up my catch rate, because Chris was bagging up well now on mainly roach, along with a few perch and the odd skimmer, feeding lots of hemp and a few maggots.

While I stopped for a cup of coffee, I dropped my pole rig in the margin and my float went under straight away. It was a gudgeon, so I tried the same trick again and caught another one. I spent 15 minutes doing this and must have caught 50 of them, including a few proper gonks, as we used to call them back in my canal fishing days.

For the rest of the session I switched between catching skimmers and roach long and enjoyed a couple more “rest” periods which I spent gudgeon bashing close in again. That was a big surprise because there’s not many places where you can catch this species anymore. I also caught a few hybrids along the way and a local told me this interesting lake offers even more surprises in the summer, including tench and crucians. Despite being called a carp lake, I didn’t connect with one of these fish all day, ending up with over 14lbs of silvers.


While pellets had pulled in lots of skimmers for me, hemp had done a great job for Chris, fishing maggots over this feed for lots of chunky roach and a few perch. He did try hemp on the hook, but had no takers. He weighed in an amazing 29lbs, including two rogue carp, but still had over 20lbs of silvers. An amazing haul considering the weather and how badly most places had been affected by the rain and cold during the month of December.

After a hectic mid-match period, the carp and skimmers had dried up for Pete and he weighed in just over 16lbs.

We all thought this small sweepstake had been a great idea, as did a few locals who came down to watch. None of us had expected such varied and interesting fishing on a small lake we had all imagined would be dominated by carp. The plan now is to try a few Open matches on it.


After Christmas I fancied trying something a bit different and went exploring the Fossdyke Canal, just outside Lincoln. A member of Lincoln A.A. had told me about this venue and I had walked a lot of the waterway back in the summer, when numerous shoals of rudd and roach could be seen cruising just below the surface. Not so now because after all the rain we’ve experienced this winter, it was chocolate coloured and flowing like a river.

There were a few anglers fishing at a place called Saxonby, where there’s a small park on the far bank and they were catching small fish. Finding a nice-looking spot closer to Lincoln, I dropped in for a couple of hours, simply setting up one pole rig to fish the bottom of the far side shelf. I cupped in several hard balls of groundbait containing a few casters, red pinkies and some chopped worm.


It took ages to get a bite, slowly edging a red maggot through the swim with a 0.75g pole float. Most of the flow seemed to be on the surface, so my fairly light rig was working okay in around 5 feet of water. There were a few pike anglers around and apart from them not catching, I wasn’t that encouraged when some walkers told me they had just seen a couple of otters further down the cut.

Eventually I started to get a few bites, catching some decent roach on a single maggot. Only one tiny perch responded to the tail end of a worm. I also caught a decent dace, which had probably worked its way in from the River Till, which was where all the heavily coloured water was coming from. An interesting venue and I aim to visit it again, once some of the mud colour drops out of it.


My mate Andy was around for a few days leading up to new year, so I suggested the Match Lake at Stretton might be worth a try. It turned out to be another venue that was heavily coloured after all the rain we’ve had and it was hard going to begin with. Gradually, by cupping in a mix of groundbait and micro pellets, fishing red maggot or small segments of worm over the top, I began to catch a few skimmers and small roach.

While I was fishing down the track, Andy was using a longer pole tight to one of the islands, which are dotted all the way down the middle of this long lake. He was cupping in groundbait and dead red maggots, looking to catch carp, but only finding roach and small skimmers.


It wasn’t easy fishing but gradually I was beginning to string a few better sized skimmers together. They didn’t want pellets, so I caught most of them on red maggots or a single caster, the latter also sorting out a few better-quality roach. I tried resting my furthest line and searching closer in, but only tiny fish responded here. For some reason this lake hasn’t fished as well this year as it normally does. The owner popped by and said he was planning to restock it with ide, F1s and carp, which should be good news for the new year.


Personally, I like the skimmer and roach fishing on the Match Lake at Stretton and have enjoyed some nice catches on it over the past couple of years. Normally carp keep butting in on the action and upset the silver fish sport, but these fish had gone missing on this venue as well. Even Andy couldn’t coax any carp into feeding with his positive long pole approach, tight to the island opposite.

I carried on quietly amassing a nice bag of skimmers, with some slightly bigger ones moving in towards the end of the session.


Because smaller lakes were responding best in the soggy, cold conditions, we finished the month on Birch Lake, back at Woodies. I did well here last winter in freezing cold weather, finding an unexpected haul of skimmers, bream, roach and carp. Andy had never fished this spot before, but as usual his uncanny sixth sense directed him to choose a peg where he then proceeded to empty the place. His simple approach, cupping in micro pellets and fishing a similar flavoured expander over the top, produced a string of carp and then a load of skimmers.

Meanwhile, I sat in the same corner swim that produced so well on a previous visit, struggling for bites. All I managed was a few decent roach and a couple of skimmers, bumping out of a two bigger bream.

December wasn’t a great month for me fishing wise, but that only makes me want to get out even more in the new year. I hope to see you on the bank somewhere soon.
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