Match and coarse please fishing tactician Dave Coster of Hardy Greys, and a regular in Angler’s Mail’s All The Answers section, is back. Here Dave explains his summer advice for thinking big... even if the water isn't the biggest.


I’VE been fascinated by small ponds and pools since I was kid living in the Far East.

I used to catch all sorts of exotic fish from one particular pond in Singapore that was in the grounds of a Buddhist Mission. The lovely people who ran the place didn’t mind me fishing the place; in fact they were always interested to see what I could catch next.

Normally it was small stuff and anything over 6oz seemed like a monster, until one day my split cane rod bent alarmingly and something much bigger charged all over the pool. It turned out to be a catfish of around 2lb, which really was a monster for me back then.

So when a guy approached me a couple of years ago to say he had a small pool on his estate and would I like to test fish it, I didn’t need asking twice!

It turned out the pool was nearly a lake, being close to an acre and set in the bottom of a heavily wooded valley. There were some rickety old wooden fishing stands, badly overgrown and no longer safe to use, but at least this was an encouraging sign. The water was quite coloured too, which was another good indicator that fish might be present.

Heaving with fish

It soon became apparent that the place was absolutely heaving with fish. If I put a maggot on the hook it was impossible to get to the bottom with float gear. Small roach, rudd, perch and gudgeon would snaffle the bait every time. Hmm, I began to think the fish might be stunted as there were so many for such a small water.

Next step was to try feeder fishing further out, where it transpired the place was quite deep. I found close to 20 feet of water in the middle, but once again maggot hook baits resulted in my quivertip constantly twitching from small fish activity.

I tried introducing some chopped worm to my groundbait feeder mix and put a decent sized segment of worm on my hook. This got through the small stuff and I had to wait a while for a proper bite, but when it came it was from a decent sized skimmer. I ended up catching quite a few of these fish from 10 oz up to around 2 lb. Interesting.

Dave Coster attached to a 20 lb-plus carp fishing a water less than an acre in size.

Dave Coster attached to a 20 lb-plus carp fishing a water less than an acre in size.

Back for more – trying different tactics

Next visit I took some pellets to try and avoid the small fish and although it took a couple of hours to get them working, when the swim did come to life much better quality fish resulted. I caught lots more skimmers, a 2 lb tench and some decent roach.

I still had a feeling the fish might be on the stunted side, but on my next visit a 2 lb perch and several 1 lb stripys, caught on large pieces of worm, began to make me wonder.

Then it happened, I was suddenly attached to a proper monster! My rod bent round into a severe arc and stayed that way for several minutes as something very big and powerful charged all over the lake.

My mate just managed to get a photograph of the action, before a massive carp swirled on the surface and my hook pinged out of its mouth. As the big fish sank back into the depths, I could see it would have been a struggle to fit it into my match sized landing net. My net has accounted for carp up to 15 lbs but this one looked like a proper 20 lb plus fish!

 A surprise 2 lb goldfish variation from the same venue.

A surprise 2 lb goldfish variation from the same venue.

Anyway, the small water is now open to day ticket anglers and there have already been some surprise catches. Carp to over 20 lb, perch to over 3 lb, roach close to 2 lb and an amazing 10 lb trout! Added to this I caught a strange looking 2 lb goldfish (pictured above) and have been broken up by several more unseen monsters.

Just goes to show, even small waters can hold big surprises!

Good luck on your next session – and catch up with my tips and advice in Angler’s Mail magazine each week,