Dave Coster’s Fishing Diary

Dave Coster

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Thanks for your kind comments John. I can reveal that development work has indeed started on the Contemporary Classic Rod range. I was using a prototype 13ft float rod when catching some of those stillwater chub and something very similar will be included in the range. We have now sourced where to have the blanks made, also a top rod builder to give then a special finish. Watch this space!

Best Regards, Dave
 
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Dave Coster

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Dave Coster's Fishing Diary – May

EXPLORING NEW GROUND




Renovation work on my local Grantham Canal continues, with yet another lock brought back to life. I had avoided the area for a while because last time I looked at the short pounds above Woolsthorpe, it was a hive of activity, including heavy machinery in action. The canal looked barren and rather sad back then, but now the banks have been landscaped and some greenery is growing back, it’s getting some character again. The boat channel has been dredged, thoughtfully leaving plenty of reed and rush growth down the margins. The surface is largely clear of the dreaded duckweed, which is a big bonus because this menace has been blighting much of the canal for years. I walked this stretch a couple of years ago and in weed-free parts I could see the bottom right the way across. All I spotted were a few small fry, leaving me wondering if all the years of neglect had severely dented the fish stocks. The only way to find out would be to put some bait in and give it a go.

WHAT WENT WRONG ?



After plumbing up I discovered a fair depth and little underwater weed, so while concentrating my feed towards the far side rushes, I pondered over what this canal had been through over the years. It was built way back in 1797, linking the River Trent with Grantham. There used to be thirty-three miles of waterway, with eighteen locks, sixty-seven bridges and nine aqueducts. Sadly, the whole lot was closed in 1936, for what reason I can’t imagine. The old wharf in Grantham is now a supermarket car park, and some sections of the waterway have dried up. What a travesty. If boats were still able to navigate from the Trent to my local town, it would be great for tourism and business, plus of course the fishing wouldn’t have deteriorated. Some strange things have happened to the canal over the years. The next section is called the Carp Pound, due to it being heavily stocked with that species. Only trouble is, I’ve not yet met anyone who has ever seen a carp caught from there!

BOUNCING BACK



It wasn’t long before my pole float began to dive under and I was connecting with a string of pristine rudd, with some pushing the 12oz mark. A few small roach and perch also turned up, before a proper elastic-stretcher ran my rig all over the canal. By its juddering movements the fish felt like it could be a tench. It was, not a big one, but I wasn’t complaining. It turned into an interesting session after that, capped off with another tench. It was brilliant to see a fair net of fish like this, considering this stretch hasn’t been restocked after all the years of decline. The irony being, it was now performing better than a nearby pound that had recently received a good injection of new fish. The following weekend, both the stocked stretch and this one were included in a Bottesford Angling Club match. Luckily, I drew not far from this area, catching a bonus tench and a decent skimmer, along with a few small rudd and perch, for runners-up position on a hard day.

MORE SURPRISES



After being pegged on the Two Bridges section in the match, I went back to explore the canal further. It was very weedy that day but my mate Chris had since raked some swims. He sat near the new lock and was soon connected to a tench. A few more skimmers have come out along here which was also interesting. The canal used to be well known for bream fishing, so it was good to see this species had survived, at least the odd fish around the pound mark. I went for the peg that provided the winning weight on the recent match. It was close to a bridge and had a big mound of brambles on the far bank, looking perfect for a few fish. While plumbing up I found plenty of underwater weed, so what I did next was mould some tungsten putty over my hook. This means it can’t snag and helps to find any clear areas, by gently steering the rig around until it isn’t hitting against any unseen debris. I discovered a nice clear spot, a couple of feet off the far bank cover.

CANAL CAPERS



It didn’t take long before chunky rudd turned up to caster, fished over towards the far side. I then lost a tench that found an unseen snag, followed by landing this lively fish. There seems to be quite a lot of small tench in this part of the canal, along with plenty of jack pike, the latter being a nuisance. On this occasion the predators left me alone and I went on to amass a fair catch of mainly rudd, including a few better samples. I enjoyed another couple of towpath trips in this area before the month was over, visiting the nearby Carp Pound and spotted a big shoal of rudd. The water was painfully clear, but by rotating between feed lines on the far left and right of my swim, I caught some quality fish, one or two close to the pound mark. I returned a few days later, finding the fish smaller but caught all day long. A couple of times I saw a dark shape cruising through my swim several metres out. It was a carp of around 5lbs, so at least one is left in there.

BUSY LAKES



Next club match was at Foston on Willow Lakes. The car park was crammed as all three match pools were booked. We were on the Hawthorn, which is an unusually-shaped water, with islands, fingers and sheltered bays dotted about all over the place. I have fished this venue a few times with mixed results, best haul being 50lbs of big skimmers and a few carp. But there are some painfully shallow and narrow areas, which don’t offer much to go at. To my great disappointment I ended up in one of those pegs. It was the last swim I would have picked, a straight channel by a featureless island, with less than two feet of water. There was even less depth against the far bank, so I wasn’t happy, but of course would still give it a go. There are some nice day ticket lakes as you enter this fishery. The first is Poplar, a shallow rectangle, which is great for skimmers. Next comes Willow, well known for big weights of carp, while the third is Sycamore, with a decent head of crucians.

DOWN THE CHANNEL



Plumbing up I found maximum depth was two feet down the middle of my peg and even less over the far side. With so little water, I decided to fish two lines, one well down to my right and another over to my left. I did explore the island, dobbing a shallow rig all along it, but nothing happened and it seemed devoid of fish. I had initially fed some micro pellets, chopped worm and casters in my main feed areas. I started in the left-hand one and couldn’t buy a bite, but switching to the right-hand side produced a few strange indications on my float, so something was down there. When my float eventually slid under nothing was there when I lifted my pole, so I deepened my rig off by a few inches, suspecting it might have been a liner. Sure enough, next put in and the float slid away again, resulting in a big skimmer. Next drop in it did the same again, only this time I was attached to a missile that shot through my swim, badly churning up my other feed area.

WORKING IT OUT



After completely messing up both my feed lines, the culprit turned out to be a foul-hooked carp, but at least I landed it. It took ages to build my right-hand feed area up again to get the bites back, while the left-hand feed zone refused to produce any indications, so I sacked that. If something big was going to turn up on the far side I’m sure I would have seen it in the shallow water, forcing me to concentrate on just the one spot down the channel. I eventually got the skimmers back. Only trouble was, every time I hooked one it would leap out of the water like a dolphin, spooking the others for long periods. I did manage to keep a couple down, but just as I was thinking about enjoying a good run of action and bagging up, another carp interrupted the proceedings and did its best to churn all the water in front of me into a brown soup. After that it was hard graft, playing the waiting game for odd skimmers. All too quickly the final whistle went and it was weigh-in time.

HAPPY WITH THAT



Ten skimmers and two carp for just over 17lbs and I don’t think there was much more I could have done. Not far out of the frame because apart from a 50lb winning net of carp, the lake hadn’t fished well, with 24lbs creeping into the money. It has been a late spring this year and everything seems to be lagging behind. A few weeks back we were still getting overnight frosts and the trees were only just beginning to leaf up. There are some lumpy carp in Hawthorn and now the weather had finally warmed up, I think there were other things on their mind. I prefer fishing for the big skimmers anyway, which normally line up if you keep away from the islands, but you need a swim with a little more depth than I had today. The other lake I like on this complex is Poplar. Again, it’s very shallow but holds a surprising head of skimmers, roach and carp. You can catch small skimmers all day on the long pole, but the bigger ones tend to feed best in the shady margins.

STAYING SHALLOW



With the huge shoals of fish in the main lakes at local Woodland Waters getting into spawning mode, I noticed nobody was on the smaller Birch Lake over the back of the holiday park. This is another very shallow water, but I enjoy fishing it because, apart from the carp, it’s full of surprises. I simply set up a soft action 12ft rod with a light 2AAA insert waggler, finding a maximum of two feet in depth. The plan was to feed 3mm pellets and casters, which both catapult the same distance, and see what happened. It didn’t take long to get bites, fishing a single caster on a size 18 medium wire hook and 0.14mm line. I started catching small skimmers and the odd roach, fishing a few inches over-depth, but it didn’t take long before a better-sized skimmer turned up. There are a lot of these in the lake, but they are largely ignored. I would have preferred using a thinner line for them, but that risks getting smashed up by the numerous carp population.

BIG INTRUDERS



I had just got the skimmers lined up when the inevitable happened. Something powerful, with a lot of weight behind it, shot across the lake. This forced me into to having to backwind frantically. This was why I was using 0.14mm line, because more skimmer-friendly 0.10mm or 0.12mm traces don’t give you enough control when carp butt in on proceedings. You can end up playing them for ages, churning up such shallow swims and destroying feed areas you have so patiently built up. In this case I was happy the carp had gone over to the far side, where its initial run covered a good twenty metres. However, using a through-action rod, combined with fairly strong tackle, allowed me to keep it away from the taking zone. With lighter line I would have probably been hanging on for much longer and the fish would be bossing me all over the place. The only thing I was worried about was if the carp would fit into my landing net, as it looked to be quite a big lump.

DOUBLE WHAMMY



I just about coaxed the beefy carp into my landing net and it wasn’t long before the skimmers were back. I tried worm on the hook, also red maggots, but these baits were attracting small fish. A single dark caster was best, waiting longer for a bite but the resulting fish were a better size. Skimmers between 8oz and 1.5lbs turned up, along with odd net roach. A couple more weighty carp butted in, but handily both shot across the lake again, without disturbing my feed area. I also pricked a couple more, but all they did was send a puff of silt up as they scarpered off. The skimmers kept coming and I enjoyed putting a nice catch of them together, slipping any carp straight back via the peg next door. I ended up with double figures of silver fish. May was a strange month, where only the last few days felt like spring. It will probably take a few more weeks for fishing to get back to normal, but the good news is rivers, drains and the Fossdyke Canal will be open by then.

The post Dave Coster’s Fishing Diary – May first appeared on FishingMagic Magazine.

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Dave Coster

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Dave Coster's Fishing Diary – June

IN THE SHADE




Weather forecasters were predicting bright sunshine and temperatures well into the seventies, so Willow Lakes at Foston seemed like a good idea. The heavy tree cover around this green oasis next to the busy A1 affords lots of shade. Not many people seem to bother with the first lake, called Poplar, probably because it’s very shallow. On my first few visits to this water, I caught loads of hand-sized skimmer bream and odd net roach, but never quite got to grips with the place. I was mainly fishing the long pole, looking for the deepest water I could find, which still wasn’t much more than two feet. But a happy accident occurred when a company I was working for asked me to test out a margin pole. There are plenty of lively carp in this venue, so the plan was to try the product down the edge. Despite the shallow nature of the place, I caught plenty of good-sized carp doing this, but the big surprise was a netful of bonus bream that resulted.

RED ROUTE



Another thing I discovered was red pellets, red maggots and dark casters worked wonders in the cloudy, shallow water. Groundbait isn’t allowed, so feeding micro pellets pulls and holds the fish. I like using krill at this time of the year, with a few casters mixed in. I also take some 4mm soft red and orange hooker pellets, which don’t attract the carp too quickly, giving skimmers the chance to find them. When I’m fishing close in, I like to start with feed lines to my left and right. Sometimes both areas produce fish all day long by rotating. On other occasions only one side produces, but at least I quickly find where the fish are by using a two-pronged attack. In this instance it was to my left. It turned out the righthand side of my peg had loads of sunken branches and didn’t produce a bite. The usual string of small skimmers turned up first on red maggot, but this bait was also pulling attention from small perch. A switch to caster changed that.

KEEPING BUSY



I’m one of those anglers who loves catching lots of fish, so commercial fisheries like this bring the buzz back if it has been slow going elsewhere. It was virtually a bite a chuck, catching everything from small perch to net roach, silver skimmers, proper bronze bream and a bonus tench. I probably could have caught carp too, but avoided them by using small, dark baits. I’d rather catch a big number of fish for 30lb, rather than just two or three for the same weight. I like to keep busy and get the full picture of what’s in my peg. I suppose many years of match fishing have taught me how to maximise what’s in front of me. Bagging up with “bits” during periods when the bigger fish are not responding, but always looking to boost catches with netters when I can. The trick today was to catch smaller fish fast on maggots and casters, watching for tiny pinprick bubbles that gave the game away when something bigger moved in. Pellets sorted that out.

NATURAL PACE



Of course, not all sessions turn into a fish race. I also enjoy targeting and catching bigger specimens, which can be hard work a lot of the time. The main big lake at my local Woodland Waters has been slow to wake up this year, particularly for the big roach. I had a couple of disastrous trips chasing the red fins towards the back end of winter. They went missing completely, something they normally do in the warmer summer months when the venue gets busy. A good way of finding the big roach, which run to over 2lbs, is to switch between feeder and pole gear. I normally start with a groundbait feeder, while letting a long pole line settle for later. The feeder line often produces plenty of small perch and skimmers to begin with, before the roach move in. On this occasion just one decent skimmer gave my quivertip a good pull round. I concentrated on the pole after that, wading through small perch and roach to find these stray better samples.

PERFECT PELLETS



My mate Andy from London joined me at Peacock Waters in Timberland, a great discovery made during the depths of last winter. It produced well with snow and ice on the ground, so now it was suddenly summer (according to the weather forecasters) it should be interesting. This day ticket fishery was quite busy, so I let Andy loose in the only free open water swim we could find, picking a more secluded bay peg for myself. With carp anglers opposite, I opted for the pole, while Andy concentrated on a pellet feeder. He had some new pellets he had helped develop for Essex company Burt Baits and was itching to try them out. While many anglers seem to prefer method or hybrid feeders these days, Andy still highly rates pellet designs, always doing well with them when he visits the Midlands. Most of the big carp in the lake were stacked up in the backwater behind the island in front of the house, so hopefully the bream might get a look in.

BAY BITS



It’s a deep lake, even in the various bays, so I set up a 1g pole rig. Only trouble was, as soon as I cupped in a few balls of feed, the peg came alive with small rudd, roach and perch. Even with a bulked rig, I couldn’t get my hook bait to the bottom. I stepped up to a bigger float and heavier olivette, but still struggled. The only way I managed to get on the deck was to use a big piece of worm or a dark pellet, but even then, it was only occasionally I got through to find something decent. I caught a couple of bream and a good skimmer, but it was hard graft. I discovered the best thing to do with so many fish in front of me was to fish a pole-to-hand style. I discarded a few sections and adjusted my rig to swing in at 5 metres. This worked much better, catching small fish a lot faster and eventually getting through to better quality samples, including some good hybrids. Rain wasn’t forecast but it drizzled down for most of the day.

BREAM BONANZA



It had taken Andy a while to sort out what the fish wanted. He caught a few bream using neat pellets in his small feeder, but when he started adding a dab of groundbait they went mad for it. I’ve seen Andy do this before, pushing micros into pellet feeders first, then the baited hook on a short link, held in with a dab of groundbait. I think this way the bait tumbles out quicker, while the cloud of particles helps the fish to find the pellets even faster. I’m always interested in the pellets Andy uses, because he rarely fails to empty most venues he applies them to. On this occasion it was a light orange F1 Sweet Carp version, which the bream obviously loved. I’ve witnessed him bagging 100lb of mainly slabs on red krill pellets, along with a mega winter haul of carp on chocolate orange. I now just let him discover what flavours and colours work best and say, “I’ll have a bag of that!” His 11ft quivertip rod had been busy all session for an estimated 80lbs.

OUT FOR GOLD



Another steaming hot day was forecast and this time it looked like the predictions would be right. Back to Willows but this time the third lake along, Sycamore, where I have caught some nice crucians during past visits. Once again, there was good tree cover to keep the sun off both me and the water. This lake is a bit deeper, with the usual head of carp, plus roach, perch and plenty of skimmers. I had the water to myself, probably because the river season had just opened. I like to give it a couple of weeks to settle down before venturing out on running water. Most of the stretches of the River Trent I like get very busy to start with, while smaller rivers were low and painfully clear. This peace and quiet would do me. I set up to fish just one line with 8 metres of margin pole, using a top kit with a puller bung and medium elastic, strong enough to land any marauding carp, but stretchy enough for bigger silver fish.

ON TOP



I could see carp cruising on the surface everywhere. On my last visit they were spawning in the margins, while this time they were mainly lazing in the sunshine. I cupped in a mixture of krill micro pellets, casters and red maggots, starting with a single red on a medium wire size 18 hook. The float buried straight away, which resulted in a small perch. It amazes me how krill pellets attract perch in similar fashion to chopped worm, so much so that I now often use them when targeting this species. I’ve even caught the predators using soft krill hookers. This flavour and its red colour had obviously attracted a shoal, because for the first ten minutes it was a stripey every put in. I tried a krill pellet and sure enough, caught another perch on that. But next cast a fizz of bubbles erupted around my float, before it darted away. For a second I thought I had hooked a sunken branch, but then whatever it was started to move off, quickly gathering speed.

SHORT SESSION



My pole elastic streamed out into the middle of the lake and as it began to tighten up, the fish kited around to my left. There was a tangle of drooping willow branches there, so I dropped the pole tip in the water and pulled in several sections to get at the puller bung. I quickly stripped several feet of elastic out and this neat trick, which suddenly tightens everything up on the fish, made it swim out into open water. It thumped around a few times but thanks to a long-handled landing net, I managed to scoop a six pound carp in double quick time. Only trouble was, as I got a grip on the spreader block, the blunt-nosed fish woke up and thrashed about in the net like a maniac. I felt something give and suddenly realised the metal spreader had snapped clean in two, leaving me with just the net part and the fish. My long handle fell away with the screw thread still attached to it. Having no spare net with me signalled the end of proceedings.

GOING BACK



Having unfinished business, I returned to the same peg later in the month, only this time armed with two landing nets! I fed some chopped worm with my krill micro pellets, wondering if this might attract some bigger perch. However, all this did was pull carp in. It took a while to empty the swim of these before this beautiful golden crucian turned up. It gave me a typical finicky, dithering bite and darted about all over the place as I played it in. I’ve enjoyed some good catches of these fish from this lake, but a bit later in the year when the carp are less active. Even the skimmers were strangely absent, possibly because every time I fed anything the surface erupted with clouds of bubbles, as bigger fish homed in on any free grub like a rocket. Another carp ruined the swim for a while, before a second crucian turned up, along with a near one pound roach and a hybrid. I tried shallowing up and caught a few small rudd and roach, but that was slow going.

TARGET SPECIES



Not many places hold a good head of crucians and I’ve enjoyed some of my best catches of this species from Sycamore Lake. But that wasn’t going to happen on this trip. After those first two gold bars, my swim turned back into carp city. I couldn’t get any silver fish to settle, particularly the skimmers, which often provide top sport here. I did manage to find two small tench, the first time I’ve caught any from this water. I ended up with a decent bag of fish, but the crucians and tench made my day. All I’m waiting for now is a bit of cooler weather and some extra water to give the rivers a go, also the Fossdyke Canal at Lincoln, which is open again. I did manage one trip to that waterway in June, but with so much water to explore, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. A lot of the big shoals at this time of the year are not where they normally live. With three connecting rivers, they can be anywhere and take time to settle after spawning.

The post Dave Coster’s Fishing Diary – June first appeared on FishingMagic Magazine.

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Crystal Bend

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Great angling @Dave Coster and very interesting re Krill and Perch & Dark Baits to try keep the Carp away.
I've also caught Tench on 6mm Hair Rigged Krill Pellets before.
Those pellets by Burt Baits look very good & the fish obviously love them.
I presume you pumped your 4mm Pellets Dave to turn them into Hookers?
I've never pumped Pellets before. Is it a case of looking at YouTube or are there any tricks to make them better?
Are some Pellet Pumps better than others?
Cheers
John
 

Dave Coster

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Hi John,

Thanks for your much valued comments. I normally have a pot or two of ready-to-use hooker pellets with me to get out of trouble. I find the red Drennan Crab and Krill ones very good. I also make my own using a trick my mate Andy (who was in the feature) taught me. After wetting flavoured micro pellets, he drains off the water and uses it to colour and flavour bigger expander pellets, which are used on the hook. This gives you hook baits that match your smaller feed pellets perfectly. As for a pellet pump, I still use a bog-standard plastic one I have had for many years. Although I have just invested in a Ringer design, which looks the business. All this has got me thinking that a feature on pellets will be a good idea in a few weeks' time...

Best Regards, Dave
 

Crystal Bend

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Thanks ever so much @Dave Coster
That information is brilliant and will be used for sure. I'd never have guessed how to prep the Pellets properly.
A feature on Pellets would be great for sure along with Deep River Trotting, Winter Chubbing down the line & more Canal Fishing incites.
 
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Dave Coster

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Dave Coster's Fishing Diary – July

GOING SHALLOW




I began the month with a few sessions on the Specimen Lake at Woodland Waters, where the huge shoals of silver fish were at last waking up, much later in the year than normal. Although it was possible to get bites in this deep venue fishing on the bottom, that was slow going. I’ve discovered once a swim has been loose fed for a while, shallow pole rigs score surprisingly well. It’s just a case of finding how far down silver fish want to be when intercepting your feed, which in this case was to be slow-sinking casters. I tried mid-depth first, with a 4×12 bodied float, an old Milo model with a sensitive fibre tip and carbon stem. I fish this with spread-out number 11s, holding the tackle on a tight line as it settles, which quickly sorts out the best setting for bites. Sometimes the fish respond on the drop, while on other occasions suspended hook baits work well. Lots of fast bites resulted, but only a few were converted. It was time to shallow up even more.

SPECIAL FLOATS



I switched to an even lighter rig, set 3ft deep with just 3 spread number 13 micro shot down the line. The floats I use for this type of fishing are ones I’ve modified, because there isn’t anything on the market that suits my needs. They are over 20 years old, having starting life as body-down designs with long wire stems and super-sensitive fibre tips. I carefully whittled the bulbous bodies down until they were like mini-pencils in shape, sanding them further until the floats self-cocked and only took a tiny amount of weight. The original wire stems bent out of shape too easily, so I later replaced them with titanium wire, which always stays straight. These floats came about when I used to fish Gloucester Park Lake in Basildon, where the big roach only showed if you fished shallow. They also worked wonders when I moved North and frequented the deep reservoirs near Hexham. They continue to perform exceptionally well now I’m in the Midlands.

FEEDING RIGHT



What amazes me about the fish I catch shallow, no matter how heavily pressured the venue, is how fin and scale-perfect most of them are. This hybrid is a classic example. It seems most people present their tackle on the deck and completely miss beauties like this. I also suspect big roach and hybrids, in particular, learn that it’s much safer to feed well away from the bottom. They are never easy to catch up in the water, but often provide action when nothing else is happening on conventional tactics. It’s not unusual to miss loads of bites when fishing shallow, but there are tricks that can change that. One is to have floats like mine that self-cock fast, which combine perfectly with bait fed on the little and often principle. Jan Porter also taught me a brilliant way of gaining more positive bites when we did a feature many years ago on the River Derwent at Borrowash. “Feed and then cast over it,” he kept saying, as he latched into yet another shallow cruising chub.

GOING DOWN



Sufix asked me to test out some new feeder mono. They are part of the massive Rapala group, who I have done a lot of work for in recent years. After testing the various gauges of line at home, I was happy with the diameter and breaking strain ratios, so I loaded up my feeder reels. Back to Woodies and I decided on the same area where I had been enjoying great catches fishing shallow. While doing that I had tried a few occasional casts with a groundbait feeder, to pass time before the pole line woke up, but nothing was interested. This time I set up a pellet design to feed krill micro pellets and fish a bunch of red maggots on the hook. Simple, but this can be surprisingly effective when the fish are backing off groundbait. I prefer a small feeder and I use live grubs, because in combination with inert pellets they stand out and pull lots more interest. I couldn’t do this if any worm was going in, because the swim would turn into a small perch nightmare.

A QUICK TEST



I wasn’t that hopeful of catching much on the feeder because most of the fish seemed to be camped in the upper layers in the bright, sunny conditions. It took 30 minutes of regular casting to get a response, but then my quivertip shot round and a nice skimmer resulted. I was only using a 4 inch hook length, with three red maggots tucked in with the pellets, casting a 20g feeder 40 metres. The new line was going down fast and, thanks to its minimal stretch, showed up indications okay. I also liked the fact it was a dark burgundy colour, so I could see where everything was as I played fish towards the landing net. More skimmers followed before, as expected, that part of the swim died. I tipped the skimmers back, ready to start again. I was itching to get back on my shallow pole method. But first I tried something else with the new feeder mono, casting out a waggler several times and this confirmed it still sank a lot faster than standard reel line.

LOCAL FIXTURES



The new feeder mono passed its initial run out and would be staying on my reels for more trips. I wish I could say I had given it a good caning on the couple of club matches I fished in July. The first was Stretton, a venue I normally enjoy because, apart from numerous carp, it’s full of skimmers and roach. But it seemed I was on the wrong side of the Match Lake, which has small islands dotted down its centre. They were catching fish all day opposite, but bites were patchy where I was. Odd carp and a few silver fish. Thunderstorms were rattling by around us, and it was only the last hour when I started to catch faster, but way too late. Next match and it wasn’t so much I was on the wrong bank, but in the wrong place completely. We were at Willows, spread out over two of the match lakes at Foston. I prefer Ash because it holds lots of big skimmers, but drew Chestnut, which only provided me with stray carp – plus a few pounds of silvers.

TENCH TIME



After suffering on the club events, I was keen to get on some fish again. Everybody seems to think tench are an early season species, but I always do well with them during July and August. I suspect the late spring and early summer association comes about due to the monster, spawn-laden specimens that are caught during that period. Anyway, I needed a tench fix, so I headed for a local brick pit, which is a pleasant club water. I found I had the whole place to myself, which was strange, making me wonder if it was going to be hard graft. The water was deep close in, so I set up to fish left and right down the nearside ledge. I had a new margin pole to try, which my mate James Robbins of Cadence had sent me, explaining it matched up with my longer 14.5m CP2000. I thought this was a nice feature because I wouldn’t have to invest in any extra top kits. All sections on my longer pole also interchanged with the new 9m CP800 one.

FINDING THE SPOT



I’ve mentioned before, most times when I feed left and right, one area completely outperforms the other. After cupping in krill groundbait and micro pellets, both spots started fizzing bubbles after 30 minutes, but for some reason bites were tentative over to the left, while the float kept whizzing away to the right. Only small tench to begin with, but there were much bigger clouds of bubbles here, along with some black bottom debris floating up from the depths. It was obvious larger fish rooting about, so I cupped in more feed and this part of the swim quickly resembled a jacuzzi. Lots more small tench followed, ranging from 6oz up to around the pound mark. This was great to see because it was good news for the future. There were plenty of small rudd and perch around too, so I was having to dump my tackle in to get through them. Trying maggots, casters or worms was a waste of time. The only way down was with a 6mm pellet.

WARMING IT UP



A pattern was emerging where small tench became more active every time I fed anything, while larger fish muscled in when most of the free grub had been hoovered up. I also found by fishing around the far edges of the feed area, I could get my hook bait down long enough for something better to find it. The main problem on this weedy lake is the stuff you can’t see down on the bottom. There were beds of horrible black stringy stuff, which a couple of times better fish belted through, dislodging the hook hold. I stepped up from 0.14mm to 0.16mm trace line and switched to more powerful black Hydrolastic. I had been on a solid hybrid shock absorber, but found it was way too stretchy. I lost control of a proper lump, which nearly took my tackle over to the other side, shedding the hook on an unseen snag. This perfect looking tench was nowhere as big as the one I had lost previously, but at least there were signs of its bigger mates.

TIME TO THINK



If I stopped feeding the bubbles dried up, so I had to keep wading through small tench every time I topped up the swim, to get at the bigger samples. I didn’t mind because all these fish are special. I normally target much bigger ones on my local reservoir, where they run to specimen size. But I have been staying away the past year because during and after lockdown, lots of youngsters have been partying on the banks of that venue. They leave huge piles of rubbish, play loud music, and generally cause major grief. The peace and quiet of this beautiful spot was more my scene, especially as my float kept going under. My early taste for tench fishing began on the gravel pits around the West Drayton area, next to the Slough Arm and Grand Union. The Met Police ran the venue back then and let me do a few features on it for Angler’s Mail. My favourite tench groundbait those days was red Van Den Eynde Expo. I still like using red but prefer Krill now.

CHANGING GEAR



The pole I used for tench all those years ago at West Drayton was an Olympic, which came from East Anglian Rod Company. I’ve worked my way through several models since then. A couple of Mavers, followed by a top end Daiwa. I then got a job in tackle development and used prototype poles from the Far East until a few years ago. They never went into production because the company I was working for was nervous about branching out into another category. The factories I helped in making these products remain good friends, so I’m sure somebody benefitted! I loved one long pole in particular, but in the end it was so battle-scarred, almost held together by tape. This prompted my family to surprise me with a Cadence pole for my birthday, which I have loved using ever since. Now I had installed one of its power top kits on an even stronger margin version, which was needed because I was latching into some power-packed fish by this stage.

A WEIRD SWIM



I ended the brick pit session with around 50 tench, plus a few rudd and perch – species I was doing my best to avoid. I’ve never had that venue all to myself before and probably never will again. Very odd that it was empty of other anglers and yet fishing so well. Later in the month I went to see what was happening on the Grantham Canal, discovering the normal summer weed problem had once again got out of hand. The match stretch at Woolsthorpe and many miles back towards town were covered in thick duck weed, bound together by horrible green foamy stuff. The only clear spot I could find was by one of the new locks. The water inside the lock was weed-free and it took me a good 30 minutes to clear the area just outside the imposing gates. This was going to turn into an interesting day, but you will have to wait until next week to find out how I got attached to something this big, strangely fishing with a top 4 rig in just a 3ft deep canal!

The post Dave Coster’s Fishing Diary – July first appeared on FishingMagic Magazine.

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Dave Coster

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Dave Coster's Fishing Diary – August

POPULAR PLACE




I’d arranged to fish with a couple of mates at Staunton Harold Reservoir. Chris was already set up when Andy and I got there, having lost our way, which is not difficult for this out of the way place. The wilder looking side we had chosen was packed with anglers, only leaving a couple of shallow pegs down the end of an access track. The vast stillwater was full to the brim, making the swims we had grabbed tricky to set up in. Chris however, as usual was perfectly organised, his fishing station already neatly assembled and parked out in the water. It’s a brilliant set-up he designed himself, commissioning someone he knew to make it. I must seriously think about getting something similar, because my seat box and footplate have turned a tad rickety these days. Most of the time I leave the cassette-style footplate off, because it’s just plain awkward to operate with. I decided to leave the lot on the bank and simply stand out in the water in waders.

MEMORY LANE



The reason I like this reservoir, which is situated on the Leicestershire and Derbyshire border, is it’s very close to how the fishing is in Ireland. I’ve not been over to the Emerald Isle for several years, missing the rocky shorelines and fish-packed loughs. My trusty old aluminium platform has seen a lot of use on venues like that, and I brought it out of retirement for this outing. I like to use it as a big bait table when wading. I matched some extra-long legs up with it many years ago when I went to Denmark, where the lakes also have similar terrain to this. I began with float tackle and straight away it was all action, catching lots of small roach and perch. It was nice to be using my old Whopper Dropper catapult again, which has never been surpassed for putting soft balls of caster-packed groundbait over floats like big wagglers and sliders. Only problem was the lack of depth, with only 3ft at the most, which is not brilliant for this type of fishing.

NEW WAYS



Chris is very much into his feeder fishing on big venues like this, often visiting similar places like Ferry Meadows at Peterborough and Southfield Reservoir in Sheffield. All attract top anglers, for whom casting seriously long distances has become the norm, but always remembering to have a closer, reserve feed line. On this occasion Chris didn’t catch much at range; an explosion of small fish had negated that tactic. You don’t want to be launching feeders in excess of 70 metres, then having to wind your tackle back all that way every cast with a tiny perch attached! In the end he settled for a more comfortable 30 metre chuck, finding sweetcorn helped get through the bits, catching small skimmers and quality roach. While this was going on, Andy and myself were plagued by small fish. Andy had chosen a long pole approach and was getting bites every put in. I had stopped feeding groundbait and switched to loose feeding over my waggler.

KEEPING BUSY



After a few hours I got fed up with cranking in small roach and perch, so despite the lack of depth I set up a 5m whip. With only 2.5ft of water to play with it took a while to sort out a rig that worked. In the end I juggled some shot under the float, while retaining enough of a bulk to swing everything out. I switched back to feeding a small ball of groundbait every put in and it didn’t take long before the fish arrived again. Still a lot of small stuff, but every now and then some bigger roach would appear. It was hard to hold them, but at least I was catching faster when the hordes of smaller fish marauded in. I don’t mind catching lots of tiddlers in matches, including gudgeon and bleak, but it can become tedious when pleasure fishing. However, on this occasion it didn’t. There are not many places where you can bag up with whip tackle, so it made a refreshing change staying busy with feeding, concentrating hard on speed and number building.

DUFF DRAWS



Next outing was a club event on Willows at Foston, spread over two of the match lakes. Last time they did this I got a bad draw on the worst lake. I couldn’t believe it when exactly same thing happened again! Next peg along to where I was last time. It was even tougher on this occasion, because there had been a match the day before. I could see loads of carp cruising around aimlessly, but they were as spooky as hell. If I tried pushing tackle anywhere near them, they scooted off like a gun was being aimed in their direction. The silver fish seem to have disappeared from this particular water too, so I went walkabout. I always find it interesting watching other people and what they are trying. When it’s rock hard the margins can be worth a look, but even that tactic wasn’t working. Just like before, the other lake was producing all the action and was the place to be. I was well out of the running, finding one stray carp and a few bits. Disappointing.

CANAL CAPERS



Chris sent me a text to say the Grantham Canal Society had been doing some dredging work at Woolsthorpe, which since I last went there had been covered in thick surface weed. Apparently, a few days previously, the dredger had been working next to where Chris was fishing, and yet he caught all day long. This sounded like just the tonic I needed after sitting watching disinterested carp taking the micky on the latest club outing. Where the work had been going on there was about 40 metres of fishable water, the rest of the canal being choked solid with duckweed. I opted for a spot by the lock, where a small stream was running water in, helping to keep things clear. Chris had checked with the workmen and it turned out they wouldn’t be using the barge on this occasion, so he set up right next to it. My swim looked interesting with the imposing lock gates to my left and a mini-whirlpool the far side stream was creating over to my right.

BARGING IN



Chris set up to fish two feed areas, one tight up to the barge and the other against rushes on the far bank. There was good depth over there now that the swim had been freshly dredged. Shame about the rest of the canal, which has been in a terrible state this summer. Anyway, it was good to be back on this stretch, which is set in beautiful countryside. Chris soon caught some of the newly stocked skimmers, along with a few small roach and rudd from next to the barge. The recent work had stirred some colour into the water and set these fish feeding. Next, he began to search over on the far bank, looking for bigger fish. A club match was scheduled for this venue soon, rod and line only, which I couldn’t see happening. It would take an armada of dredgers to sort this place out properly. The rod only event is in memory of a deceased club member, who would probably turn in his grave if he could see the state of his beloved canal these days.

FEATURE PEG



If I was on a match I would fancy my chances on a peg like this one, but once again tiny fish were following me around. I struggled to get maggots or segments of worms to the bottom. Small rudd were snaffling my hook bait, even when trying to dump my pole rig in. I carefully worked my way around the swim, exploring the moving water to my right, along with the slacker areas by the lock and against the rushes opposite. When I did manage to get through the baby rudd, the next problem was small perch were on my bait straight away. Yet another issue emerged when the fish on the surface started scattering all over the place. It looked like jack pike had moved in. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t big perch chasing the fry, because the culprits were making long swirls as they shot through, chasing their prey in all directions. Nothing big came my way, but Chris did alright in the end, extracting a few decent fish from the far side of his swim.

BLITZED



I introduced Andy to Bainside House Lake, where I did well back in the winter, catching a big haul of mostly skimmers. I fancied it would get even more interesting in warmer weather. However, when we arrived, the area where I fished previously was cordoned off for maintenance work. We ended up in a couple of swims at the end of the long island that runs down the middle, in a big open bay to the left of the entrance. Bad mistake. While Andy started on the pole, close to a large rush bed, I cast a pellet feeder over against the far bank. My rig had hardly settled before my quivertip sailed round. A string of 2lb to 3lb stockie carp followed; it was daft fishing. It would have been great in a match, but was too industrial for a pleasure session. Andy was experiencing the same thing on pole gear. The hungry carp were bullying the silver fish out of the way. The rumours of big bream, huge grass carp and stillwater chub would have to wait for another day.

SKIMMER TIME



I eventually found the skimmers I had been looking for on a photo shoot with Burt Baits, the company I started working for earlier in the month. I had caught a few nice fish by fishing a feeder on the Specimen Lake at Woodies, but as has been the case all summer, the fish quickly backed off. I then tried something different. I had earlier cupped in a load of micro pellets on the long pole line, along with some soft krill groundbait. This was just to get a bed of something down on the bottom, to loose feed casters over. Only a couple of missed indications materialised at full depth, but when I switched to my shallow rig it was a bite every put in. Lots of skimmers, odd roach and plenty of chunky hybrids came my way. It was great fun using light tackle, which was tested to its limits by the fighting fit shallow feeders. It’s amazing, when nothing is happening, how dinking casters in combination with shallow rigs, makes such a big difference.

NEW GROUND



When I first moved to Lincolnshire I did lots of exploring. Several years later I’m still crossing venues off the huge list of venues I made. I’ve done rivers, canals, reservoirs, numerous lakes and some of the drains in the Spalding and Wisbech areas, but had somehow bypassed the wealth of Boston waterways. There was a tackle shop on the banks of the Bargate when I last looked, but that was long gone when I recently went there to wet a line. A sign on the bank told me Maude Foster is the real name of this drain, which branches off in all directions. I couldn’t find any up-to-date angling info on the internet, so it was a case of diving in at the deep end. After motoring along miles of fenland roads, a swim by a railway line caught my attention, just outside the residential area. I set up two pole rigs, one long and one for just down the nearside shelf. It was tough going, but in the end my close-in rig found quite a few perch and some bonus skimmers.

ANOTHER WORLD



During my initial exploration of Boston, I had noticed another nice-looking drain branching off the Maude Foster by the golf club. Maps name it The Stone Bridge, but local anglers call it the Sibsey Trader. There’s an access track running alongside and it’s much quieter than the Bargate. I enjoyed another interesting day on there, after finding a coloured area, which normally signals fish are resident. I started on a waggler, catching plenty of hand-sized skimmers, loose feeding with a catapult. But then floating duckweed became a problem. A couple of weed boats were chugging up and down, but the surface debris persisted, forcing me onto pole tackle. Groundbait pulled plenty of silvers in, but these in turn attracted a pack of hungry pike. I got bitten off a few times before the predators left me alone. Baits like maggots and casters were attacked by small rudd and roach, so I sat it out on a big segment of worm and landed this cracking tench.

The post Dave Coster’s Fishing Diary – August first appeared on FishingMagic Magazine.

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Dave Coster

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Dave Coster's Fishing Diary – September

WEEDY SURPRISE




Matches were due to start next month on the Fossdyke Canal, so I took a run up there to see what the score was. I fished the canal early season, but it hadn’t woken up back then. This trip I was in for a big shock, because as I stopped to look at my favourite haunts, many miles of the waterway were choked solid with duckweed. This had probably got in from the River Witham, which is connected, and always suffers badly with the problem. The match stretches were unfishable, but a bit further along at a place weirdly named Drinsey Nook, the weed was more thinly spread. A couple of Lincoln club members were pole fishing and getting plenty of bites, so I decided to give it a go. Moving away from the road behind, there was only a roving lure angler in the distance, so I had plenty of water to choose a peg from. Although the surface weed wasn’t too bad at this stage, I noticed it was much thicker in the distance and was steadily coming my way.

WORM SLOP



The canal was running and because the thick surface rubbish was only ten minutes drift time away, I picked a spot where the wind was tending to push the duckweed across to the far side of the canal. This would at least give me an area to fish my side of the boat channel. With wishful thinking, I cupped in two balls of groundbait on the long pole line, drip feeding a similar but softer mix by hand much closer in. I never got to fish the cupping spot because two boats came through and suddenly the whole area was choked solid. But luckily the wind picked up and quickly blew most of the horrible stuff over towards the far bank. This left me with six metres of water to play with. I was trying out some Worm Slop groundbait and it soon got things moving. I liked the way the small dollops of this dark stuff were clouding the water on the way down, which saw me catching plenty of perch, roach, hybrids, baby skimmers, bleak and silver bream.

MATCH READY



The pattern when the matches start tends to be tough on the first one, but once some bait goes in the fishing improves. I framed with just over 4lbs of small roach and perch on the first event last year and was only ounces away from winning. Towards the end of the series, double figure weights were popping up just about anywhere. It was looking like a similar pattern would be the case this year. The canal continued to flow all day. The other anglers told me that the club secretary had dropped by earlier, so I suspect he had gone down to Torksey Lock on the Trent and asked them to run some water off, to thin out the surface debris. The flow was helping towards the end of my session, but it had been a tricky day. Even when carefully lowering my rig in with the short pole, clingy weed managed to attach itself and was very time-consuming to remove. I still caught plenty. The weed problem eventually caused the matches to be postponed.

BUSY TIMES



The usual roach bonanza didn’t happen earlier this year on the two main lakes at Woodland Waters, but on my last couple of visits there were signs these fish were becoming active again. You normally don’t see the big red fins when the holiday complex is busy, and boy was it packed when I arranged to meet my mate Steve there. I couldn’t see a spare peg on the far side of the lake. Feeders were raining out of the sky everywhere, so I picked a swim in a slightly quieter bay and opted for the pole. Steve was already set up and was soon catching well on a full depth pole rig. There were some Continental guys to my left and one of them stood out from the crowd. He was using two feeder rods, mind you, but cranking in a string of skimmers, bigger bream and odd carp. I could also see one of the regulars bagging up on skimmers with a long float rod and fixed waggler. I decided on just two pole rigs: one shallow at 3ft and one at the full 14ft depth.

FISH RACE



Normally when the Match Lake is packed with anglers all the disturbance puts a damper on sport, especially when it’s warm and sunny. But this was one of those strange days when the fish had decided to feed no matter what. Steve next door quickly discovered there were too many hungry mouths competing on the way down to make his full depth long pole rig work properly. He tried coming closer in, much shallower, well up the inside ledge. There was plenty of overhanging cover to his right and he was soon enjoying lots of hectic action from roach, skimmers and perch. I also started at full depth and enjoyed a good start with some skimmers, but that part of my swim faded after 30 minutes. I didn’t need any prompting to switch to my shallow rig. Happy I had cupped enough holding grub in, I began loose feeding casters over the top. It didn’t take long before my slow-sinking shallow rig was pulling a bite every time it went in.

WELCOME RETURN



I caught lots of small roach, perch, rudd and hybrids to begin with on my shallow rig, but gradually odd skimmers and hybrids required a landing net. There were some quiet periods, but that was only to be expected with all the people about. It was a weekend and there were still lots of holiday-makers staying at the popular complex. There are several nice chalets on the southern bank of the Match Lake and I could see most of them were occupied by anglers and their families. It made me smile when I saw how many of the dads had it well sussed, happily fishing away while the kids were playing on the grass a good distance behind, mum indoors preparing Sunday lunch. But I was too busy to think about food. A steady stream of loose-fed casters were beginning to speed things up, with odd fish swirling for the shells as they hit the surface. Just as my mate Pete the bailiff arrived, so did this fabulous roach. Nice to see these on the way back.

FEEDER QUESTIONS



I’ve been continuing to experiment with the modified pellet feeders I mentioned in a recent Fishing Magic feature. One big problem with these in-liners is the length of hook lengths that are used with them. Standard four inch ones are most popular on the commercials for carp and other big fish, but a major fault when targeting skimmers is the lack of give in rigs. Even if you use mono reel line instead of braid, it’s easy to bump lots of these soft-mouthed fish off as you play them in. A mate uses a slightly extended hook length, which he says helps. Having tried this, it becomes awkward to bury hook baits inside the feeder, because too much line ends up coiling back on itself. I’ve tried another way with longer hook lengths, threading them through the feeder on a pulley system, anchored with soft line stops. This aimed to provide enough resistance for a bolt effect, while the extra weight of hooked fish was meant to pull more trace line into play…

PROBLEM SOLVING



…That was the theory, but the idea faltered and I continued to bump the hook out of fish, even with a soft action quivertip rod. My next move was to try using six inch fluorocarbon hook lengths, and this is where something interesting happened. The same problem was there when trying to bury hook baits inside the feeder, to avoid tangles on the cast, having to carefully manipulate excess trace line out of the way with my fingers. I found this tricky and time consuming, deciding to try a few casts with the bait left dangling free outside. To my amazement it didn’t come back tangled around the back of the feeder, which is what usually happens. Fluorocarbon is thicker and much stiffer than the rig line I normally use for hook lengths, so it pushes the hook away. Not burying baits sped everything up and I started catching some nice-sized skimmers. I got a couple of tangles, but nowhere near as many as I experienced with low diameter mono.

STRETCHING OUT



I suspected it was the lack of stretch in ultra-short hook lengths that was the main reason for bumping the hook out of skimmers. But by switching to longer lengths of fluorocarbon, suddenly less fish were being lost. Fluorocarbon has even less stretch, so maybe it wasn’t the elasticity factor that was the problem. It dawned on me that the point where most fish came adrift was just before they reached the landing net, when skimmers in particular tend to nod about and thump hard against the rod tip. In that case is must be the weight of the feeder being so close that causes the hook to lose its hold. Suddenly, by increasing the distance of the hook from the feeder from four inches to six inches, I stopped losing fish altogether for the rest of the session. I also reckon it helped that I was using my modified pellet designs, which have much lighter loadings than most off-the-shelf models. When fish pull back it’s not like they are hitting against a brick wall.

CATCHING PLENTY



Something else I discovered about using fluorocarbon traces concerns hook patterns. With normal rig mono, I find eyed hook patterns perform best otherwise, with really short lengths of line, spade-end models cut through it when under pressure. The problem with eyed hooks, however, is they tend to be on the heavy side and more geared up for big fish like carp. This can cause missed takes with fickle feeders like skimmers and bream. Apart from fluorocarbon being virtually invisible in water, I’ve found it to be a lot more robust and tougher than low diameter rig line. It doesn’t show signs of stressing and coiling so easily, which in turn means it performs better with spade-end hooks, which don’t readily slice through it. My new combination of different line and lighter hook patterns made a huge difference to this session, with the skimmers responding much faster. This is just part of my catch, pristine shoal fish, all around the same stamp.

NEW VENUE



Having fished the Bargate and Sibsey Trader drains for the first time this summer, there was yet another connecting waterway I wanted to try called the Hobhole. I had driven along several miles of this drain earlier in the month, but on that occasion it was being run off like a tidal river, thanks to heavy rain the day before. Not having any stick floats or heavy feeders with me, I decided to give it a miss. When I went back the water was virtually standing still. I picked a nice-looking swim just below a road bridge, which somebody must have fished recently because this spot had been neatly cut out, while most of the banks were heavily overgrown. I don’t think this venue is fished very much these days because many miles are thick with head-high brambles and nettles. The water was coloured, so I fancied my chances of catching. I set up just two pole rigs, one long and one short. Two hours fishing the long pole didn’t produce so much as a bite.

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS



When I dropped my reserve rig in much closer the float went under straight away. For some reason the fish were hugging my bank, even though there was nice overhanging cover across and nearly 6ft of weed-free water down the middle. I caught roach, perch and pale looking hybrids steadily, switching between red maggots, casters and segments of worm. Soft groundbait helped to keep things moving, while loose-fed casters at one stage saw some better roach taking single shells on-the-drop. It would have been a pleasant spot to spend the day, if it hadn’t been for heavy lorries and huge tractors constantly rumbling over the nearby bridge. It was harvest time in the surrounding fields and there was the drone of machinery everywhere. I kept having a quick look on my long pole line, but still couldn’t buy any interest over there. Strange that. I still managed a nice net of silvers and aim to go back soon when things quieten down.

The post Dave Coster’s Fishing Diary – September first appeared on FishingMagic Magazine.

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Crystal Bend

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Some nice catches there @Dave Coster
The Roach should start feeding well now.
I've attached an old article Denis White done years ago about a Bungee Skimmer Feeder Rig he used to great effect & maybe something you could adapt to your Pellet Feeder Rig. Adding some Drennan Feeder Gum could work too.
 

john step

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Nice article as always. By coincidence I fished that very spot in the photo on the Fossdyke yesterday. The weed was a bit of a nuisance at times but nothing like as bad as when I walked it last week. The weed is a combination of duck weed and something I believe is floating pennywort.
Last week I could not see water only a bowling green like surface. Lower down at Boston on the Witham the boaters were marooned in the harbours.

Whether its true or not the AE apparently have released grubs in the water to eat the stuff . Something has happened as the weed is fast disappearing.
 
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Dave Coster

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Dave Coster's Fishing Diary – October

OFF COURSE




My friend Steve suggested checking out a golf course lake just outside Lincoln, telling me it can be a superb winter roach venue. I took my umbrella along because I had visions of golf balls raining down all day. Thankfully, it was nothing like that, being situated next to the course, rather than surrounded by it. The beautiful lake was bigger than expected and screened off from the golfers by trees. I liked the look of it and although Steve said he hadn’t seen any bream during past trips, I set up a feeder just in case, along with full depth and shallow pole rigs. The level was well down, I imagine because they must use this place to water the greens. Plumbing up with the pole revealed three feet of water, while casting around with a bomb I could only find a maximum depth of 4ft. Steve had already set up when I arrived because he lives just down the road. He was catching small roach as I got myself organised, beginning by cupping in soft groundbait at 10 metres.

30 METRE POLE



The loose groundbait contained casters, chopped worms and a few micro pellets, a versatile mix aimed to find out what the fish wanted. I also cast the feeder out a few times to get some bait in on that line, before going for a walk to see what the rest of the place looked like. Apart from us, there were only a couple of carpers on the water. One of them was fishing against the far side rushes in a big bay, carefully pushing out the longest pole I had ever seen, with a feed cup attached to the end. It turned out this ingenious chap had made the floating pole himself. I stood there amazed, watching him expertly dumping bait right over his leger rig. The other carp angler told me that bream were resident, but that we were on the wrong bank for them. I noted the area where he said he had caught some proper ones from, and went back to see what was going on my side of the lake. Steve was catching well by this time, netting the odd better quality roach.

15 METRE POLE



Steve’s pole only went up to a sensible length and he was using most of it to find a bit of extra depth. He was enjoying plenty of bites by this stage, but missing a few, mainly I suspect because the fish were more cagey than normal due to the lack of water. It was noticeable he would get a flurry of bites and then the shoal would back off. The bailiff came round and it only cost me a fiver for a day ticket. He said they would be topping the levels up soon, which was good to know because I had a feeling this venue could be well worth spending some time on through the coming winter months. When I went back to my peg and started on the pole it was virtually a bite every put in, but to begin with the fish were small. I cupped in some more groundbait and continued loose feeding casters over the top, switching to the feeder to give my pole line more time to pull in bigger fish. It was slow going on the feeder, but eventually my quivertip sailed round.

PROPER ROACH



The culprit turned out to be a pound-plus skimmer. Dreaming of big slabs turning up, I sat there ages waiting for another indication and when it came it was from a similar-sized fish. Back on the pole, and that area was buzzing with activity. I had to wade through small roach, rudd and perch to get at the better samples, but it wasn’t until I brought a shallow rig into play before things got really interesting. Odd decent rudd and better-quality red fins kept me busy. I could see some big swirls on the surface for my loose-fed casters by this stage. It was hectic and very enjoyable fishing. I did have another quick look on the feeder, and an identical-sized skimmer to the previous pair resulted. I couldn’t ignore the pole for too long however, where suddenly I was attached to a serious elastic-stretcher. The fish had hit my hook bait like a rocket and careered off several metres out into the open water. Everything held and this massive roach resulted.

BUSY CANAL



On a trip to Nottingham I found myself walking the towpath of the bustling canal that runs through the city. There were no anglers about, not surprising really because it was alive with walkers, bikers, canoeists, boaters and joggers. Not safe to push a pole back, but a sign told me that some people must still fish this waterway. It’s run by Notts Federation of Anglers and day tickets are available. Only trouble is parking. If I wanted to get anywhere near, it looked like being impossible. This is something that irks me about many inner-city canals and rivers, in most cases lost to angling unless you take the urban drop-shotting, travelling light approach and the bus. Not practical for me, but I enjoyed dreaming of the roach, perch, bream, chub and carp the canal is renowned to hold over the massive 238 pegs available. I suspect they all remain empty most of the time these days, deserted by the majority in favour of more convenient commercial fisheries.

OLD RIVER



A few days later I was fishing a natural venue absolutely bustling with fishermen, the Old Nene at Benwick. This small river is still a winter playground for match anglers because even in built-up areas you can park a car without getting clamped or a ticket. In fact, anglers seem to be refreshingly welcome. A farmer told a mate and myself he didn’t mind us parking up behind our swims in his field. A smaller community probably notices the passing trade lots of anglers bring to local garages, cafes, pubs and shops. Big cities don’t ever comprehend this side of things, which is probably why so many of their retail premises are closed these days. Their loss and someone else’s gain. The reason places like Benwick and nearby March are so popular with anglers when the weather turns colder, is huge shoals of fish move into these more sheltered areas for the winter. This annual migration provides lots of action to many methods. More about this soon.

BIG RIVER



I had been looking forward to meeting up with the Fishing Magic and Thomas Turner team for months. We were staying at the Red Lion Hotel, which manages eight miles of fishing on the River Wye, just outside Hereford. It was also great to see John Bailey again, exploring the beats he knows so well. He put me on a beautiful glide, with stunning countryside all around. The only other angler in sight was the owner of the FM and TT brands, Richard Hewitt, seen here in the distance, fishing with an Avon rod. My choice was a traditional float rod. For those who don’t know, I developed the award-winning Hardy Marksman Supero range several years ago. But Hardy have now reverted to game only, so I’m working on what would have been a follow-on range. This time for Thomas Turner, using even more advanced nano carbon technology. Richard, John and myself were like kids in a toyshop with the new samples, which urgently needed testing.

ROD BENDERS



I’ve never fished the Wye before. The most similar to it I can think of was the River Vyrnwy, a tributary of the Severn, another powerful and wild-looking waterway. The Vyrnwy was full of chub and this place looked like it should be too. To begin with, it was small dace and minnows, but it wasn’t long before my 13ft rod was heavily bent into something much bigger. I was only using my usual light line, small hook approach, but get the action of the blank right and it’s surprising what you can land. A good four-pound chub went back, followed by a pair of lively brown trout doing all kinds of acrobatics in and above the fast-flowing water. I was using a stick float, a method I still rate highly and a tactic you don’t see many anglers employing these days. I love the way you can build up a swim, especially on a long glide, gradually pulling fish up from downstream. This was to be the smallest chub I caught during my two sessions on the Wye.

SWIM SHARING



Next day John took me to another part of the river, which featured in the popular Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing TV series. He left me for a couple of hours to get into the swing of things, starting again with a stick float. This time I got swamped by minnows and small dace, but also hooked a good chub out of the blue. Another four-pounder that gave my new float rod sample a good run out. When J.B. returned, I invited him to have a go fishing just upstream of my peg, because I needed to see how the new 11ft Avon sample was performing. I also wanted to see how he approached this fascinating river. By this time I had switched to a feeder, introducing pellets instead of hemp and casters, to try and get away from the small stuff. It wasn’t long before a huge swirl next to my feeder rod signalled John had got attached to something big and powerful. He was using hair-rigged Scopex boilies on a light, rolling leger set-up.

MODERN CLASSICS



The concept behind bringing out a range of classic rods, but made from cutting-edge high-tech materials, is a new route for Thomas Turner. I don’t think enough Hardy Marksmans were produced to meet demand, which is probably why they often currently change hands for the same RRP, or even higher prices, than they did originally. They were great products, winning the European Fishing Tackle Trade Exhibition Best New Rod award in their Amsterdam show in 2012, also Angling Times Best Specialist Rod the following year. But even when Marksmans were at their peak, I was discovering exciting new nano carbon technology emerging in the Far East factories I visited. I left Hardy and Greys on good terms, mainly because I wanted to move further south to be closer to family and better coarse fishing, but never forgot about what I had seen. Back to the present, and I was witnessing new rods I had dreamt about finally in action.

NEW WAYS



I was fascinated by the tactics John was using. He was casting upstream with four spread-out large shot nipped on his main line. These were spaced at roughly 10-inch intervals, ending in a short hook length and hair rig set-up. He was feeding boilies a fair way out and when he cast out over the top, his unusual rig made a similar sound as it hit the surface. He was touch legering and the fish were on his hook bait almost instantly. A couple of large chub resulted, the best probably 5lbs. By this time I had hit into something big too on the feeder, loaded with Polony-flavoured pellets, banding a 6mm size as hook bait. I felt a heavy thump as the fish realised something was wrong, but then it hit into a previously unknown snag and everything went solid. I lost that one and missed a savage take next cast, quickly winding in because J.B. was playing yet another good fish. This fought differently to the chub and it turned out to be a wonderful River Wye barbel.

BIG FISH



John had to leave as he was meeting up with some friends on another stretch nearby. I of course started to cast upstream where he had been feeding plenty of boilies, but still staying with my pellet attack. My quivertip dropped back dramatically and I was immediately into a good fish, using a 12ft feeder rod sample this time. It dealt beautifully with all the surges and thumps, as something wild at the other end of my line used the strong current to try and prevent me from bringing it in. I eventually netted a lump of a chub. I put it in a keepnet for a few minutes because I could still hear John in the distance, packing his gear away into his car. He came down to take some photographs and estimated it was close to being a six-pounder. After he departed again, I sat there hoping for a barbel. I did pull out of something that might have been, feeling a tad more powerful than the other fish I had been catching. I finished up with this even bigger chub.

The post Dave Coster’s Fishing Diary – October first appeared on FishingMagic Magazine.

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Dave Coster

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Dave Coster's Fishing Diary – November

FIRST FROSTS


Nov Diary 1.JPG


Scraping ice off the car for the first time this year, reminded me that tactics might need changing, especially on local lakes where water clarity had turned a lot clearer. I was staying local because the new E10 unleaded petrol had given my vehicle a bad case of the hiccups. What a joke, I now have to use more expensive super unleaded to avoid stalling at busy junctions and to get enough power to climb hills. Never mind, I always enjoy exploring different areas on nearby Woodland Waters, where it becomes a bit quieter during the winter. I came across one of the regulars giving a groundbait feeder a good chuck on the deep Specimen Lake. I joined him for a chat and decided to fish the next peg, as he was already catching good skimmers. I scaled down to a small feeder and fluorocarbon hook length, expecting it to be tricky going. I started with a micro pellet approach but that failed miserably. The bites gradually dried up next door too.

ANOTHER GO



I went back a few days later and picked a peg a bit further along, where I had done okay several weeks before. This time it took a couple of hours to get bites, but after that the swim came alive with decent skimmers. I caught by switching between small cage and pellet feeders, an interesting experiment. The fish would initially home in on groundbait and then back off it after a few casts. Changing to a pellet feeder they would return, but also back away from that after a while. It became a game of cat and mouse to try and keep the bites coming. I suspect the drop in temperatures, combined with rotting leaves on the bottom, had sickened the fish off slightly. The other thing I had to contend with, at a time when I’m sure lake fish require a lot less grub, was a couple of over-eager anglers spodding loads of freebies out. They were really giving it some serious welly, and bites noticeably dried up with the constant bombardment.

STAYING LOCAL



My car still wasn’t right, with what was left of that awful new unleaded fuel in its tank. I squeezed more super unleaded in on the way back to Woodies to try and dilute the stuff, this time heading for the Match Lake. There’s a peg by an island that shelves away into deep water, where it’s possible to fish with a fixed waggler. Groundbait had been iffy recently, so I planned to loose feed micro pellets as far as I could with a powerful catapult, then top up with casters over the top with a lighter action one. During previous sorties with this unusual combination, I have found skimmers home in on the micros first, after which quality roach gradually muscle in on the regular caster top-up feed. I think micro pellets are just as good, if not better than using hemp, because there are great flavour options these days. Whether you use sweet or savoury, silver fish seem to like them. Watching others dotted around the lake, not much appeared to be happening.

WORKING WELL



As expected, skimmers turned up using double red maggots on a small size 16 hook. These were not big, averaging 6oz to 12oz, but at least I was catching something. I kept plugging away and sure enough, dinking casters in got the roach interested, along with a couple of rudd. I tried increasing the loose feed and shallowing up a bit, but the bites were too fast to hit. Going back to full depth it was a roach if I got a bite quickly and a skimmer if I had to wait a while. A single caster resulted in bigger fish than red maggots, while trying a soft 4mm pellet didn’t bring any response. I dropped down to a proper size 18 hook and this made bites bolder. I was using fluorocarbon again, which I like a lot when the water turns clearer. If I can’t see it when it’s submerged in water, I’m sure fish can’t either. It’s not as strong as high-tech mono, but as long as you are careful, using soft action rods, it does a good job. It handled this nice perch okay.

WINTER TENCH



My mate Andy was around, and I wanted to go back to the golf course lake in Lincoln where I caught a massive roach on my first trip. I fed some chop worm when I started on the feeder further out, but after dropping short on the waggler, a few perch started turning up to red maggot. I think they must have homed in on the feeder line first, but the regular casters I was catapulting out pulled these fish in closer. I caught a couple of decent ones, along with one better roach that required the landing net, but it wasn’t easy fishing. Andy was persevering with a pellet feeder, but he couldn’t get a rap on it, switching between wafters, banded hard pellets and maggots on the hook. Any action in my peg came in short bursts. It was still okay and I ended up with double figures, finishing off with a bonus tench. It turned out not to be a fluke because we went back a couple of days later and Andy caught one too. Who said tench were only summer fish?

TRICKY FOSSDYKE



I was away for the first individual winter league match on the Fossdyke, so I only entered the second round of the series as an Open. I’m glad I did because I drew the Pike House section, which was dire, with most anglers struggling for a few ounces. However, next match I managed to get on the Bridge stretch, which had better form. It still wasn’t going to be easy, with lots of floating duckweed being pushed through by the strengthening wind. The water was gin-clear too. It hasn’t been a good season on this Lincoln canal. Weed has been a problem for long periods, not like last year when the venue was in brilliant form. It turned out I was on the fringes of where the roach, skimmers and perch had shoaled up. I started okay, catching a few small fish and then a useful bonus pound perch down the margins. But then pike moved in, with one monstrous fish swirling in front of me a couple of times. I only managed a few more sprats after that.

BONUS PERCH



Rylan Neal in the peg next door managed to catch a pair of big perch on lobworms, lovely fish to see from a canal. We had a bit of banter because it was hard going most of the time, with lots more silver fish showing to his right. He told me a couple of surprise double figure zander had been caught from the canal recently, the biggest a massive 14lbs. Being joined to three different rivers, including the Trent, you never know what might turn up in this always fascinating waterway. Many locals reckon the bream that sometimes show, move in from rivers because they fight like crazy when you hook them. I’ve seen some hefty carp cruising through on other nearby stretches. Tench can turn up too, along with dace, silver bream and bleak. I’ve also caught a few chublets, but nothing any bigger, although I suspect they must be there. As the match petered out, the only excitement I saw was that big pike again, rocking the surface as it chased prey fish.

OLD RIVER



I was thinking of giving the Old Nene at March a go, so I went to have a look. The town centre was bustling and seemed like a typical fenland town. I stopped for a coffee and then went exploring Marine Parade that runs alongside the river. All the bank down that side was private, but I eventually crossed a footbridge and found a grassy area where a couple of people were fishing. The far bank was all gardens and moorings but looked interesting, similar to nearby Benwick. There’s a big park by the library on the other side of the busy main town bridge and I recognised a few swims that have been featured in YouTube videos. I could see some old peg numbers on the ground, but later discovered the venue had been fishing below par, apart from a 17kg winning weight. Many of the swims looked awkward to fish, requiring platforms or space station-style seat boxes. I decided to leave it and maybe go back when it was in better form.

SILVER BONANZA



Phoning friends it seemed the fishing was a struggle everywhere, so I decided to have a go on the pool over the back at Woodies, which has provided great sport in the direst of conditions. Birch Lake gets busy during peak season, to the extent only season ticket holders and people staying at the holiday park can fish it. But when things quieten down the management will normally let you have a go for the price of a day ticket. Set on the edge of beautiful woodland, the water was deserted when I arrived and stayed that way while I caught chunky skimmers, roach, rudd and perch all day long. It’s normally carp city on this place in the warmer months, but once the water cools, that species tends to shoal up and lie dormant in the overgrown corners. As long as you don’t dump loads of bait in, carp rarely bother you. The trick is to feed regular small amounts of maggots or casters, to wake up the shoals of silver fish, which provide plenty of bites.

CHANGING TACK



At this time of the year when the last fallen leaves are littering the surface of stillwaters and the ones that fell earlier have sunk to the bottom, I find switching to the waggler or slider can make a big difference. I suspect most leaves end up close in and these types of floats put you past them, so you are not constantly finding your hook bait covered in debris. I don’t think fish like rotting leaves either, which probably sour the water in their vicinity, because it becomes harder to get bites close in on the pole or whip. Towards the end of the month I enjoyed a couple of busy sessions, testing out a new float rod that should be available under the Thomas Turner brand next year. Being made with state-of-the-art nano carbons it was a joy to use, reminding me of my favourite Hardy Marksman rods, but even lighter and crisper. As is usual when the nights draw in early, best sport came as the sun began to dip behind the trees on the horizon.

LAST KNOCKINGS



Pete the bailiff joined me for a session on the Match Lake, on his midweek day off. I’ve got him into pole and whip fishing and he loves keeping busy with both methods. He set up a whip rig, while I opted for a waggler. I catapulted a bed of small pellets out as far as I could and then fed small amounts of casters over the top every cast. It took around an hour to get bites, resulting in small roach and perch to begin with. It seemed my rotting leaves theory might be correct, because it took Pete a long time to encourage a response on the whip. A couple of small perch eventually obliged. It was cold and as usual, it wasn’t until the sun started dropping below the trees behind us before better quality silvers turned up. I caught some nice skimmers switching between casters and red maggots, while Pete netted a couple of decent perch and pulled out of something even bigger. As the light faded, I finished off with a cracking big roach.

RUSTY SLIDER



Still testing the new float rod, I decided to give it another go with slider tackle. It’s been a long time since I used this method regularly, but I got it working okay in 14 feet of water, 25 metres out. It was mainly small skimmers that responded, but I got to thinking about the big winter roach that normally start to show on the two big lakes on this complex. The weather needs to be cold for them to get a proper look-in, because there are so many other species to compete with. The best time for these fish is from mid-afternoon, but the only trouble is it gets dark soon after that as the nights draw in so quickly. I tried hard but couldn’t find any. It was still enjoyable sitting there, watching the sun setting behind the trees and the dead calm you get when the wind drops away. Although I got the slider working well, my feeding was astray when trying to put small balls of groundbait over it, highlighting the method had been redundant for far too long.



The post Dave Coster’s Fishing Diary – November first appeared on FishingMagic Magazine.

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