Chew Valley Pike Trials

I bet you have your special little place where you like to sneak off too now and again, just to regain some confidence in your angling ability? Chew Valley is the place to go where fishing tackle is indeed tested and more than often dreams become reality.

Chew valley lake is a special place, both for trout anglers and now for the pike chasers alike. A combination of factors has led to Chew becoming the best Pike fishery in the UK with numerous 30 pound plus fish being caught.

The fishing is allocated by a limited numbers draw system which could see you rubbing shoulders with some piking legends such as Neville Fickling, Dave Kelbrick, Martin Bowler and the like. With 50 anglers fishing it every day of the trials it can be a bit of a lottery and getting on the earlier days of the week also helps. I was lucky enough to have a cancellation day for middle of the first week , but this only produced a double and some jack pike whilst that very same day two 40’s and 7 30’s came out! I think this was down to us moving spots too many times; the big ones were coming out purely to static dead baits left to soak for a good few hours.

My fellow Fishtec  staff member Garrett had put his name down for the draw and had been lucky enough to get a boat for Sunday, the last day of the first week. As a total pike virgin he needed an experienced guide and of course I leapt at the chance to have another crack at the chew pike. We set off at 6.30 am to get to the lodge for 8.00am, the idea being to wolf down a full English which is all part of the chew tradition. Garrett truly obliged and was the first to clear his plate, in fact it was picked clean of every scrap in a short space of time much to the amazement and amusement of our fellow diners.

The essential start to the day

We soon had our boat number and we headed out into a calm still and cold lake, which made a pleasant change from the recent wet and windy weather. I took us to a spot in open water on a drop off which had produced some great catches for me in pervious trials; it was here we sat it out for a good couple of hours and after fine tuning our position one of my floats finally bobbed under. I explained to Garrett the need to take in the slack line and then set the hooks with a firm sweep of the rod, but upon demonstrating this technique my trusted Greys prodigy boat rod fractured into four pieces with a loud bang! It was a bit of a hair raising fight bringing the fish to the side of the net on just a butt section with the danger of the jagged carbon cutting through my line at any moment, and to top it off I could see just one hook point of the two treble hook in the scissors of the pike. Thankfully my TF Gear redmist main line took the strain Garrett was a dab hand with the net and we got the fish in the boat. She was as fat as a hog and turned the scales at 22lb 4 oz.

Check the broken rod

22lb 4oz Ceri Pike

We sat it out for another few hours, with nothing but news of my pal Leighton Ryan and his boat partner landing a 25 and a 30!

TFG fan Leighton with his 25 pound lump

As it was getting on in the day I decided to take us to a shallow bay where Garrett would have a almost guaranteed catch of a jack to avoid the dreaded blank. Sure enough he soon got a run and landed his first ever pike.

Garrett’s First Jack

Not long after he had a dropped run and then connected with a confident pick up which bent the rod double, sadly it was not to be and the hooks pulled after a short fight. I had the feeling it was a real zoo animal maybe one of the 30’s! It was a hard call to make whether to stick it out in the same area, but I chanced It and took us back to our earlier spot for the last hour which is often the best time for a big one. Sure enough as the temperature and light fell Garretts float went under, and this time he stuck well and kept the pressure on. The fish wallowed on the top and was revealed as a decent fish, after a short tussle I did the honours with net and we weighed her in at 21lb 8 oz. Our time was up but I was well made up with a 20 each and helping Garrett capture a specimen pike of a size that has taken many experienced pikers years to achieve.

Garretts 20 pounder

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Nov 11

 

WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING

The slow progress to winter weather has affected the shore fishing in my region of Kent and the expected cod have not materialised, YET, from the beaches. Instead the small whiting, dogfish and now an influx of postage sized dabs are eating all the other species out of house and home. It’s grim if you are a shore specimen hunter and my advice is to desert Kent for the many other regions that are fishing much better. The recent TF Gear DVD fishing in South Wales is an example – Plenty of codling throughout the South Wales, Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel region and some bigger ones from the boat. Other reports from around the country suggest the cod fishing is superb in some regions. The North East is enjoying an influx of codling and they are growing fast,East Anglia has some and the North West is improving rapidly.

With all this in mind much of my recent fishing at home has been in competitions and I have had a mixed bag of results recently, but the bright spots included a win from a dud peg on Folkestone pier although it proved to not be a dud and I suppose that teaches us all never to give up because in fishing you just never know. A catch of garfish and mackerel in mid November was something of a surprise – how a float outfit stayed in my tackle box I don’t know?

I had a pretty poor day at the TF Gear Kent Classic on the Isle of Sheppey, plagued with small whiting, I managed two goers out of 60 fish. However, the company was good because I was paired with a local junior. Although to be honest a paired peg was not what I had in mind and fishing in the disabled section was rather a handicap!

What I am doing is to try to get around catching those small whiting and any tips on that would be gratefully received. I have tried bigger hooks (2/0s) but even they don’t keep the 25cm whiting off!  With all the small fish around there is the temptation to go all in for the tiddlers with smaller hooks and lighter hook snoods, but the likes of size 4s and 10lb snoods really is a step too far and only practical in catch and release matches – Size 1s and 25lb hook snoods remain the sensible winter minimum.

COMPETITIONS, ETC
With Christmas and the New Year looming is time for those seasonal events. Turkeys and Christmas fares attract lots of anglers who would not normally fish competitions and all this proves that lots of prizes are far more attractive than a big cash prize and although I have said it before a return to the old prize structure system may be the way for lots of clubs who are loosing support to go.

My next away event is the Clubman final inNorfolk where the Sea Angler magazine staff etc fish against last years Clubman champions, Holt Sea Angling Club. It’s a bit of a fun event really although you can bet that everyone will take it very seriously indeed.

Coming up is my annual pilgrimage to Kilmuckridge near Wexford for the Irish Winter beach championships on January 26th/27th and 28th. A very friendly multi day match with lots of Irish Craic Further Details/Entries to:

Warren Doyle, 98, Seacrest, Bray, Co. Wicklow. Phone: +353(0)1-2828769

Mobile: +353(0)86-8069961 (Evenings Please)

E-Mail: warrendoyle@iol.ie

TACKLE AND WINTER TIPS

The new TF Gear Force 8 S MAGs with their one piece frame are proving popular – I have switched over to them after using one all season and I must say the addition of a power handle is essential for fishing.

Her are a few shore and boat fishing tips for the winter months.

Shore anglers watch out for frozen sand, cold shallow water and lots of fresh water, rain or snow melt. Nothing is worse for results at this time of year because the fish will not come inshore under such conditions. I have a rule and that is not to fish anywhere that I cannot cast past ground that is uncovered at low tide, from December through until April!

Bait shortages are the winter angler’s worst enemy and once the weather deteriorates to real winter mode and all the part time diggers pack it in you will start to feel the effect. No real answer other than to stay loyal to your dealer.

You can lay in a supply of frozen Calamari etc or even get the fork or bait pump out yourself.

The largest winter sea driven by gale force winds can ruin a good fishing trip because it’s always in the worst weather that the fish are around. Ways to keep you fishing when the wind and sea are near gale force is to include a few 8oz fixed wire grip leads in your kit. These help tow baits through the wind with a low punchy cast more effective than a high looping thrash, and ensure baits stay where the land. Also add an adjustable sliding butt cap to your rod rest because with it you can raise your rod tip and line much higher up above the waves and weed. Finally – don’t be afraid to fish the piers and deep water rock marks. Lots of beach anglers don’t even consider such venues despite them being so much more practical and productive in the “dead” of winter.