Dave Coster's- Fishing Diary October 2019

I began the month joining a fishing pal on the Specimen Lake at Woodland Waters. There’s a double peg in the wood near the island and Leigh, who lives in Nottingham, had bagged up there a few days previously. The big bream that live around the back of the island had for some reason wandered off course and ended up on his long pole line, where originally big roach had been the target. Once he discovered slabs had moved in, Leigh upped the amount of groundbait he was feeding and fished double casters over the top, amassing a big weight comprising 11 slabs and a large skimmer. Interesting, because a few days previously I had caught three dustbin lid sized bream a few swims further along this section, and that had all happened on three consecutive casts with a feeder.

While Leigh set out to attempt a repeat performance, I was going to have a go with the pole too, but with a pellet feeder as back up. It turned into a dour session. Recent rain had knocked a lot of colour out of the water and because this lake is spring fed, any extra water that comes into it tends to be on the cold side. The few small fish I initially caught on the feeder were icy cold to the touch. I soon gave this up as a bad job and because Leigh was only getting the odd bite at full depth on the pole, I decided to bring a shallow rig into play, regularly feeding small amounts of casters.

It didn’t take long to get bites, but they were lightning fast and hard to connect with. The ones I did convert were only small roach and perch to begin with. But then I latched into a proper elastic stretcher…

There are always big fish lurking in this area, mainly I suspect because it gets a lot of bait from carp anglers, who regularly frequent the pegs close to the island feature. I was glad I was using the new Matrix Slik Hybrid pole elastic, which is super stretchy to say the least. Even Leigh commented how amazed he was that I managed to stay attached to the torpedo that was tearing out into the lake. I was only using a fine wire size 18 hook and 0.10mm Advanta Rig Line, but everything held and eventually the fish came close to the surface. It certainly wasn’t a bream the way it had charged off, behaving more like what you’d expect from a big roach or a chub. As it swirled on the surface, for one heart-stopping moment I thought this might be a massive roach because I’ve had quite a few close to the two-pound mark from this area. But the fish turned out to be a hybrid. It would have been some roach because it clocked up 3lb 7oz on Leigh’s digital scales!

The turbo charged hybrid was the highlight of the session. The bream and big roach failed to show, but we enjoyed some good banter. I can now see why carp and specimen anglers are so keen on social sessions, getting to catch up on all the latest tackle talk and who’s catching what. You get to find out about new venues too from other anglers, and I discovered Leigh has access to some prime stretches of the River Trent, which we are planning to have a go on, if it ever stops raining!

A few days later rivers were still in the fields, so I went back to the same area on the Specimen Lake to see if the quality roach had switched on yet. A couple of local anglers I regularly bump into at Woodland Waters were on the pegs Leigh and I had a fished before, so I set up 20 metres away. I gave the feeder a good go while priming a shallow pole line again.

The other guys were catching better on the feeder this time, mainly skimmers. But not much happened on the feeder for me, apart from getting broken up by a hefty carp. I couldn’t unclip my line quickly enough as it powered off towards Woodies Bar and Restaurant. It was lunch time!

I came in on the pole with a shallow rig and it was very similar to my previous visit. Lots of fast bites to begin with until once again I managed to connect with another proper elastic stretcher. When this one rolled on the surface it looked a lot more like a very big roach. Even in the accompanying photograph the fish looks like a genuine red fin, but I won’t lie to you, there was a hint of bream on its underside fins. All the same, this beautiful two-pound plus creature still made my day.

A few days later I got a text message from Pete the bailiff to say he had at last managed to get in the island swim on the Specimen Lake at Woodies, where a few weeks earlier he had bagged close to a hundred pounds of big bream on the feeder. He invited me to join him because it’s unusual to get into this spot as it’s a favourite carp area. It seemed strange not seeing a bivvy in the peg. All the carp anglers must have gone to France chasing monsters over there, before winter sets in.

Pete expertly spodded a load of bait out, tight to an overhanging bush where the water shelves away to around 10 feet. I didn’t want to spoil his hard-earned day off by fishing too close, so I explored the open water further out to the right. I eventually found a pronounced bar that people talk about, which is just past the middle. I reasoned that fishing on the edge of this feature should produce something. However, once again the weather had a hand to play. It was suddenly blowing a gale and recent rain had knocked colour out of the water, like it had a few days previously. It turned into a hard slog until the very last knockings, when Pete latched into three good slabs…and that was it.

Local rivers were still in the fields and I needed to do a photo shoot soon with the Angler’s Mail photographer before the month was up. Where to go? I got a text message from a couple of mates who said they were going to fish the Match Lake at Woodies. This seemed like a very good idea because it always produces plenty of action. I needed to string some fish together after a few hard sessions, because apart from my patchy Specimen Lake adventures, I had also been back on Denton Reservoir, struggling once again there. Although I did pick up a few surprise quality roach on the feeder.

I picked a corner swim on the Match Lake, which in retrospect was a bit daft because the first two carp I accidentally hooked on the feeder buried themselves in this heavily overgrown area. I gave up on that and switched to plans B and C. This was a 5m whip fished to-hand style and a margin pole in case anything big moved in.

This session turned out much better, with loads of bites and some chunky roach up to the pound mark, along with skimmers and perch on the whip.

My whip line kept going quiet, caused by something big moving in I suspected. I switched to my margin pole, which was kitted out with powerful hollow elastic and a rig that would stop a bus in its

tracks. Oddly, the roach, skimmers and perch returned straight away, but it didn’t seem fair catching them on tow rope, so I went back on the much lighter whip rig. You’ve guessed it, I hooked into something big and it completely trashed my rig.

I spent ages after that with the heavy gear catching nothing. Then another 5 minutes re-assembling my whip set up, which once out in the water got trashed again!

Things settled down after that and I put a tidy catch of quality fish together.

Both my mates did okay too, keeping busy on the feeder in open water. Chris was in the next swim, fishing two lines, the nearest with a conventional groundbait feeder set up and switching to a longer chuck occasionally with a window feeder. Interestingly he was catching skimmers closer in and odd bigger slabs on the longer chuck line with the window feeder. The latter method is really catching on these days.

It was Chris who first put me onto window feeders, especially the new Preston ones which cleverly always land with the window part facing upwards. Although these feeders are streamlined, they still take just enough bait to interest big fish at range. The best way to use them with soft baits like sweetcorn is to Quick Stop the hook bait on a hair, because directly hooking soft offerings tends to see the hook rip through them when casting so vigorously to achieve extra distances.

A few days later I got a message from Chris telling me he had bagged up on a stretch of the Grantham canal. I hadn’t heard of the section in question before, because it was over on the Nottingham side, at a place called Kinoulton. The next day I found it okay and was immediately impressed by the manicured grassy banks and over 30 well-made fishing stands, which were neatly spaced out every 15 metres. This made our weeded-up Grantham end of the cut look very sad in comparison. A big well done to the Parkside Fishing Club who run this stretch, which is situated in beautiful countryside, not far from the Dynamite Baits HQ at Cotgrave.

Chris set up a few pegs further down from where he caught the day before, saying the canal had dropped a couple of inches and lost some colour overnight. There had been one of the first frosts of the autumn too.

We spent three hours trying everything and not catching anything. I finally managed a tiny perch and Chris caught a small pike, before announcing he was going back to try the swim he had caught from the day before. I followed to see what happened. Armed with just a short whip, he swung out a small pellet of punched bread and the float sailed away before he could even feed any crumb. The same thing happened next cast. Amazing! We both hurriedly relocated our gear.

The fish were obviously shoaled up tight and we caught a few, but nothing like the hectic action Chris had enjoyed the day before.

As I put my fish back, I noticed some of the skimmers had bigger than normal eyes and a pinkish hue to their lower fins. I suspect some of them might in fact have been silver bream, which is interesting because this species is quite rare. Apparently, the Environment Agency carried out a survey on this

stretch and discovered 10 different species, but there were no details of what they were on the notice boards at the entrance, or on the Internet when I looked. Passers-by told us they had seen tench, eels and bream caught by other anglers in the past. Well worth another visit at some stage.

Before the month was up I went exploring the Lincolnshire drains again. The South Holland looked interesting where it widens out, close to the tidal River Nene, but the level had been dropped several feet. I hadn’t gone armed with a platform, so I decided to take a look at the nearby North Level Drain instead, at Black Dyke. Bad move! After many biteless hours the bailiff turned up and explained all the fish had moved out the week before. Apparently, they were providing great sport by Tydd Gote bridge, only trouble was there was a match in progress there.

Towards the end of the month, for the Angler’s Mail photo shoot, it had to be the Match Lake at Woodland Waters because the rivers looked iffy again after yet more heavy rain. To cut a long story short, I bagged up on several methods, catching some decent bream, loads of skimmers and lots of small fish. There were no signs of the quality roach on that occasion, but a final hectic October session on the whip saw these four beauties turning up, along with another nice mixed net of fish. As the nights draw in, it’s time for the big roach to come out to play…

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