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.
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!
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.
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.