Dave Coster's Fishing Diary- September

After fruitlessly chasing the shadowy big tench that live in Denton Reservoir for much of August, I decided to try for this species in a venue that’s a bit easier, Buckminster Brick Pit. This attractive, horseshoe shaped club lake is a pleasant spot to spend some time at, apart from the annoying small rudd that inhabit the place.

I decided to cup in four big balls of krill groundbait, only containing a few 4mm pellets and to fish a 6mm Durable Krill pellet over the top. I’ve discovered on previous visits it can be a big mistake to feed casters or chopped worm here, as these baits tend to send the hungry rudd into overdrive. Because of the numerous small fish, I was only going to use a margin pole. It can get busy on this venue with all the small fish and a long pole can lose you half a day with all the shipping it in and out.

It was a very slow start, with no tell-tale fizzes of bubbles appearing over my groundbait, only small rudd dimpling on the surface and having the odd go at my pellet hook bait. I was just beginning to think I might have left it a bit late on in the year for a tench session, when my pole float darted under and the elastic in my top kit speared out into the lake. This was more like it! There’s nothing quite to beat the way tench manage to make a float tip tremble and disappear in the wink of an eye, requiring you to react like lightening, to avoid them weeding your tackle up.

This lively fish did manage to get a clump of weed over it, but as is normal when this happens it tried playing dead and a few seconds later I netted the big ball of weed with the fish parcelled up inside. Not a specimen but a nice start.

It turned into a bit of a strange session after that, with still no signs of any fish fizzing bubbles over where I was feeding. I decided to give the swim another hit of groundbait and pellets, before going for a walk to see how other anglers were doing.

The first guy I came across was playing a lively fish on a float rod, which turned out to be a surprise crucian carp. I hadn’t seen this species here before, neither had he as it turned out. I had a brief chat and my new friend caught another crucian. He was totally lost for words after that, so I moved on to see how the next angler was doing. I discovered this chap had been catching well using hemp and tares, which are baits he said helped to avoid the rudd and find decent sized roach that inhabit the lake. That was another new bit of info worth knowing about.

I returned to my swim to find something was at last sending clusters of bubbles to the surface. I caught another reasonable sized tench along with a much smaller sample, but the swim died again after that. This prompted me to try groundbait paste on a bigger hook, which immediately resulted in the best action of the day. I love the way big tench try every trick in the book to beat you; zigzagging, charging off, or laying doggo and pretending they have come off when they weed you up. This fish was a proper street fighter, not quite as big as its Denton relatives, but it made my day.

My mate Andy was around for a few days, so we decided to go exploring further east, down the warren of small roads that crisscross the numerous drains in the Holbeach and Spalding areas. I remembered a place on the South Holland I had tried before, called Leedsgate Bridge, where I lost what I think was a very big perch when I first fished the place a couple of years back. We eventually found the bridge, where the local club had cut out around 15 decent swims, all looking remarkably similar. Andy doesn’t believe in walking far if he doesn’t have to, so he sat near the bridge. I checked out all the fishable pegs and couldn’t see anything to persuade me to haul my tackle out into the fields, so in the end I opted for the next peg along.

This venue was rock hard the last time I fished it, so I gently worked my way into the place this time, dinking a few casters regularly over towards the reedy far bank. I set up a light waggler rig for this area, also cupping in a small dose of chopped worm and caster down the nearside shelf, over which I was going to try a strong margin pole rig later on.

It took a fair while to get a bite on a single caster, which although positive, I missed. It then took another 20 minutes before another similar indication, only this time there was a pleasing bend in my 12ft float rod. The fish darted about a bit like a sizeable roach but turned out to be a nice hybrid. After netting it, once again it took a long time to get another bite, which resulted in a similar sized hybrid. Then small rudd moved in. These small terrors seem to have been following me around this year, just about everywhere I’ve fished, but they are normally a good sign that fisheries are on the healthy side. There was suddenly a disturbance going on in Andy’s swim, so I went to see how he was getting on.

Andy was hanging on to his pole with a lot of elastic stretching down the drain, almost into the next peg! Luckily, he was using a top kit with a puller bung, so if he did manage to get the fish back into range, he would be able to gain some control. Up to this point he had been catching a few skimmers, but whatever he had on now was a lot more powerful. After a good tussle he netted a lively fully scaled carp. A nice surprise from a fen.

Just as I got back to my peg the bailiff turned up. He informed me the drain had been fishing well this year, with odd big bream showing in club matches and pleasure weights on another stretch up to the 50lb mark. It turned out season tickets were very reasonably priced, so it was better value to buy one of these instead of a day ticket. Similar to the nearby Tydd Gote club waters, you can purchase season tickets on the bank, which I think is a great idea.

I decided to give the far bank a rest and have a go on my margin pole, hoping for something big like a tench. Every now and then there were small fizzes of bubbles where I had cupped in raw chop and caster, but when I did get a bite it turned out to be another decent hybrid. After that I caught a couple of small skimmers and then a one-pound perch. That part of the peg died after that, so I went back to the waggler. I missed a few bites but didn’t really want to mess around setting up a long pole at this stage. It was getting a windy and the steep bank behind was a bit awkward for unshipping lots of pole sections. I plugged away on the waggler and suddenly hit into something that ploughed along the far side, a bit like you would expect from a good chub. I had to plunge my rod tip under the water to prevent getting snagged up in the rush stalks and miraculously my fragile 0.12mm hook length survived. I eventually netted a nice looking and very angry fully scaled carp.

After the disturbance the carp caused, I could only catch rudd and odd roach on the waggler, while the inside line never came back, despite feeding it up a couple of times. I was getting quite a few iffy bites that were missed and wished I had some pinkies or squatts with me, which used to be great baits on drains and canals for activating interest. Many years ago I often used to attack these types of venue with several pints of squatts and some pinkies, spraying the small maggots over sensitive canal style wagglers. This tactic used to wake up every fish in the area, not just small ones either. I can remember weighing in some hefty bags of skimmers and quality roach. But never mind, those days are long gone and this one had still been very enjoyable.

As usual when Andy visits my area, he wanted to fish Woodland Waters, where he always bags up big time. Last visit he emptied the Match Lake with a pellet feeder, so this time he wanted to have a go on the Specimen Lake. To my surprise, the swims known as the “Big Chuck” ones, opposite the island on the forest bank were vacant. We quickly occupied these.

I started on an open-end feeder around 50 metres out into open water, while Andy fished closer in with his favourite pellet feeder.

I caught reasonable sized skimmers almost straight away, using three red maggots, while Andy struggled. I was just beginning to wonder if his winning streak at Woodies was coming to an end when he latched into a good bream. He then started to string a few decent skimmers together, feeding krill micro pellets and using dead reds on the hook. As his swim began to build, mine started to fade away. I set up a 6m whip with a 1g pole float rig, a tactic I’ve been promising myself I would have a go with on this deep lake.

Feeding small nuggets of groundbait containing chopped worm and casters, I was soon getting bites on the whip. Small perch to begin with but then a better one and a hand sized skimmer. The next thing I hooked didn’t want to come off the bottom and the flick tip at the end of my whip was juddering about like crazy. Could it be an eel? Before I could find out, whatever it was bit through my line. Next cast the same thing happened again, so I put on a slightly stronger hook length and caught the culprit, or at least one of them. It was a fair-sized eel. A first for me on this venue.

By this time Andy was beginning to empty the place, switching between dead red maggots and small banded wafters on his pellet feeder rig. It had taken a long time for the skimmers and bigger bream to find his feed, but now they were over it they were having a real go. Towards the end of the session he caught a brace of proper black and bronze slabs, finishing up with a good 40lb plus bag.

I stayed with the whip until packing up time, but there were no signs of any of the big roach this lake holds. It’s a strange place because when it comes into winter roach form, you don’t tend to see any of the skimmers that are so prolific in the warmer summer and early autumn months. It’s almost like someone flicks a switch. Anyway, I still had a decent net of fish and went home dreaming of the big Woodies red fins I would soon be targeting when the first frosts of winter occur.

Another place I fished in the month of September was Bain Valley Fisheries, a place I had a look at much earlier in the year. At that time I found Hurricane Lake to be full of fish and I fancied another busy session on this venue. I opted for the long pole with groundbait and pellets to begin with, avoiding baits like casters and worm because this is yet another rudd infested water. I was soon catching skimmers, although rudd did gradually become a problem. This was because I had to keep feeding small balls of pellet laced groundbait to keep the skimmers interested, which in turn the rudd started to chase down to the bottom. I did manage to avoid these fish occasionally and apart from more good-sized skimmers, I also caught a couple of proper slab-sided bream.

There were fish topping everywhere and some good-sized roach and rudd were amongst them. This tempted me to quickly set up a shallow rig and started loose feeding casters. For the rest of the session it was a bite a chuck and I bagged up with a fair few roach and rudd nearing the one-pound mark, along with lots of smaller fish. You can’t use keepnets on this complex, so I haven’t a clue what weight I caught but it was a great day’s fishing.

September threw up a few surprises. Crucians appearing in a lake where even local anglers hadn’t seen them before. Carp turning up from a Lincolnshire drain and eels almost on my doorstep. October should be interesting!

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