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 – The New Year Scratch

THE NEW YEAR SCRATCH

This month the cod season is well and truly underway and it’s the time when the bigger fish venture close to shore, especially after a big sea. Its time to make the most of the few spring tides left with a live bait rig the way to go for the biggest cod on many venues. However within four weeks and the arrival of February the bigger fish will thin out drastically in many regions and it’s then that the fishing and the weather sorts the men from the boys.

If you want to continue sea fishing into February the biggest problem is that you will encounter some really extreme fishing weather, whilst at the same time the fishing will deteriorate. Both boat and shore anglers need to heed mum’s advice and wrap up warm and that means long socks, thermals suits and that all important hat. Of course venturing out when the weather is severe is difficult because it always looks much worse than it is! But, usually once you have made the decision to go and fish the weather doesn’t seem so bad and providing you have good waterproofs and a shelter even the worst Mother Nature can throw down can be bearable!

The decreasing temperatures have a dramatic effect on the next few months fishing, watch out for cold shallower water and frozen sand at low water which deters fish from venturing close. Fresh water, rain or snow melt coming out of drains,  rivers, stream etc is also the enemy of the shore angler because it will push the fish out away from the shore line. I have a golden rule about beach fishing at this time of year and that is not to fish anywhere where my cast lands on ground that has been uncovered or exposed to low temperatures at low water. Even better I ONLY fish from the deepest water beaches, rock marks and the piers.

Mention February and lots of shore anglers pull faces at the thought of an invasion of slugs (rockling). Make no mistake the New Year heralds the departure of all the adult fish of most species to spawn around the greater part of the UK and that’s why it’s considered tiddler time. All amount of bravado and using a 4/0 Pennell rig loaded with whole Calamari squid will fail miserably because there simple are no big fish inshore in a majority of regions. At best in a few places is the chance of a 5lb codling, although I have to say that the rays now start to appear earlier every year and they can turn up as early as February and so its wide to keep an eye on catch reports.

I for one carry on fishing through the early part of the year, lots of anglers don’t and put their gear away until spring. Much depends where you live and fish and what floats your boat! It’s a far different approach that is needed to carry on fishing when its tiddlers only. Instead of large hooks and giant baits it’s more delicate tackle and catch measure and return match fishing that is required. It’s a time for the more delicate and fish attractive baits like white ragworm or maddies, a more refined approach to tackle with lighter hook snoods, wire booms, size 4 match hooks and the softer actioned quiver tip rod. Lots of match anglers have discovered the fun of switching to a sea quiver tip rod and fixed spool reel to exaggerate bites and braid is fast becoming the line to use for short range tiddler snatching.

Although its small fish time in many regions the bigger codling are still possible and they often muscle in on feeding dabs and other tiddlers so it’s wise if you go for small hooks to use a strong pattern.

Dab fishing may not appear very exciting but for many anglers it’s the challenge of catching fish under difficult conditions that is the thrill rather than the size of the fish. When the frost is nibbling the ears a few dabs can be a great reward for some scratchy plus they make great eating.

Some tips to help you catch more dabs include adding a few sequins to your hook snoods when fishing in clear water. A small tip of fish, shellfish or squid can also be a deadly lugworm cocktail of dabs but keep the tip bait small finger nail size. For flounders little beats a bunch of wriggly maddies tipped with a small strip of mackerel plus a buoyant bead (it works for dabs too) to give the bait a little lift and movement in the current. Dabs and those slug like rockling love sticky decaying lugworm with four day old black lugworm a prime bait for February match fishing. So don’t throw your lugworm bait away after a trip, keep it until next week and you will find it deadly for the tiddlers especially dabs

Finally, one of the most crucial tactical decisions when fishing in the New Year concerns casting distance – The whack it as far as you can early winter tactic which works for the codling and whiting found in the deepest water no longer catches in February, it fact its nearly always out to far, way past the feeding fish. More effective is an accurate cast to the gutter between low and high tide line, or the back or front of a sand bank or gulley. Other hot spots include the ends of wooden groynes or rock ledges which the fish hugging the shoreline have to go around. Consistent casting to the same spot also pays dividends.

The biggest bonus of this time of year in match fishing terms is that catch and release events mean fewer fish killed. Place them in a bucket of water before you measure register and return – Of course you can retain the bigger fish to eat, but many go back and can be caught again in the future.

DETAILS OF THE TF GEAR DELTA QUIVER TIP BEACHCASTER

Delta Allrounder is a 16ft multi tip rod designed for competition fishing and continental style fishing. Casting 2-5oz leads, It also comes complete with 3 interchangable quiver tips  ranging from 200g upto 600g making it perfect for scratching around for flatties and smaller species. It come with a sliding reel seat and  is suitable for both fixed & multiplier reels.

 

You Think You Know A Lake

You Think You Know a Lake

After a very disappointing result at a recent fishing competition, followed by a couple of weeks with a serious lack of fish banked, I have been well and truly irritated with my own fishing. So instead of doing a few hours here and a few hours there I decided to do a proper weekend session down a lake I thought I knew very well.

I knew the water down Argal Reservoir in Cornwall would be low after the summer but when I turned up there it was very obvious that the water was extremely low. I had never before seen it like this so took the opportunity to well and truly check out the areas I had previously been fishing.

I could actually walk out to the spots I had fished before and what an eye opener it was. There were snags everywhere with perfect clear areas to be targeted in the future months. What shocked me the most was a whole row of tree stumps that I had no idea where there up until that moment. I can’t imagine the amount of times I have fished over them!

I just had to then check out the rest of the lake so spent the next hour walking around it checking out the other pegs. Without seeing it you probably couldn’t even imagine the snags that were there. In front of one of the pegs there was even a full wall that really would restrict any fishing for even the most experienced angler.

I was eager to get my carp rods out but didn’t really have a clue where to place them; all my usual spots were an impossibility. The feeling of fishing a ‘new’ lake gave me a real buzz and before I knew it I’d located three perfect areas and bait was being put out.

All I could do then was wait with an unusual feeling of anticipation. The evening soon came without so much as a bleep of the alarms soon to be followed by the morning. I questioned myself as to whether I should locate some different areas but decided not to. I changed my rigs and re-baited those same three areas. Before long I was thankful I had done so as my rod screamed off resulting in a lovely looking 25.04lb common. A much needed fish for my own self confidence. This was soon to be followed by an 18lb mirror, well worth getting the fishing tackle out.

If nothing else this weekend was a real eye opener. You may think you know a lake inch by inch but in truth until you can actually see it for real how much do we really know?

http://www.swlakestrust.org.uk/leisure-activities/fishing/coarse-fishing/argal

Tight Lines Samantha

 

Alan Yates – Sea Fishing Diary

TF GEAR Alan                       Yates Diary 26 20/9/11

WHAT I HAVE BEEN DOING

I nipped down to South Wales to make the latest TF Gear Sea angling DVD which will be out FREE with Sea Angler Magazine and the TF Gear catalogue soon. What a great decision to head for the coloured water of the Bristol Channel because the fish showed up from both the boat and shore. I am not going to spill too many beans except to say that we caught cod, bass, congers and ray despite some pretty foul weather. We fished aboard Steve Jones charter boat Indiana out of Cardiff and from the shore at Penarth and Friars Point amongst others. Just a word of thanks for the bait and advice that was supplied by Newport tackle dealer, Clive Vedmore. (Tel. 01633 855086) Clive’s shop supplies great tide booklet of the region that includes lots of advice on fishing tackle, tactics and venues.

Back from South Wales I fished the British Championships at Deal and Walmer in Kentand the event suffered from it’s usually summer heat wave with clearing water sending the fish to the deeps as the anglers arrived. The entry of 220 came from as far as North Wales and many blanked and only a shoal of dabs that turned up on match morning provided action at the Sandwich Bay end which produced most of the prize winners. There were also scattered dogfish which proved a bonus catch and they mostly came from the patches of rough ground at Sandown and Walmer. The Championship winner fishing from peg 20 in Sandwich Bay, was in form Deal angler, Saul Page who came home from the SAMF Versus Belgium match on the Saturday night where he won the individual prize, to take the British Champs title and £1000 in cash. Saul landed 20 fish weighing 4.340kg including a bonus dogfish, four whiting and 15 dabs fishing white ragworm at long range. Runner up and very close to getting a hat trick of British Championship wins, was Martyn Reid of Folkestone who fished at Sandown over a patch of rough ground to land 5 dogfish for 3.600kg, he hooked three on his first two casts and then had to wait until the last hour for the other two. Third was Bristol angler, Kevin Daly with 2.440kg. The £1000 prize for the biggest fish went to Leigh Chapman of Canterbury with a 1.230kg bass he landed on his very last cast. Junior Champion was Davis Morris and Ladies Champion, Shelley Bassett both of Deal. I finished a creditable 12th but was well please to have predicted the top two and the biggest fish winners in the local press the week before, perhaps I should take up book making!

Good news for sea angling following the recent campaign and petition against plans by Rother District Council to ban angling from the shore in the Bexhill and Pevensey Bay region. Rother District council have decided to back the anglers after being bombarded with complaints against the plans and the realisation that angling provides an important all year around revenue for the region. Of course the real reason is that they simply cannot ban fishing from Crown Land (sea shore) because it’s a public right that dates back to the Magna Carta that only Parliament can change.

COMPETITIONS, TACKLE NEWS AND FISHING TIPS

I am organising the Dover Sea Angling Pier Festival on the 29th.30th/31st October. Its being fished from Dover’s “Concrete boat” the breakwater were some excellent catches are the result of being marooned each day of the three in the centre of Dover harbour. Lots of cash and lots of tackle prizes are up for grabs with the event sponsored by Sea Angler Magazine amongst others. Late entries will be accepted at the draw on the 28th from 7pm at Dover Sea Angling Association HQ 14, Priory Road, Dover Kent. CT17 9RG. For info on the event ring me on 01303 250017. or e mail alankyates@aol.com Whilst making the latest DVD in south Wales I got my hands on the new SMAG multiplier – It’s a one piece aluminium frame 56C multiplier. The field casters will love it with its larger magnetic control knobbly, but it also includes a larger diameter free spindle which makes the whole reel assembly stronger. This version is a proper fishing reel that will cope with dogfish and cod hauling and there will be a special power handle option available.

TF Gear Compact Accessory and Bait Carryall

The advertisment says “This is without doubt the most efficient and practical all round carryall ever designed.” A bold statement and, for an old cynic like me, one that I was prepared to take with a pinch of salt.

But, on receiving the TF Gear Carryall I was immediately impressed by the build quality with its rugged zips and strap connectors, they certainly look like they will give years of good service. The bag is made of a waterproof material, again a big plus for the roaming angler who may not take a brolly with him, and the carry straps are well padded.

 

Looking inside I have found the main pocket to be capacious enough for all of my needs including room for my flask, something that many smaller bags don’t allow. There is even a plastic pocket in the lid for your licences etc. The side pockets are just right for a camera, scales and anything else you may want to find quickly and there are net pockets outside of them that will take a tin of drink or your phone. The large front pocket opens to reveal the free TFG Lokbox which is a real bonus and will come in very useful. Mine is now full of lures.

This carryall is exactly what I’ve been looking for, larger than most of the bait bags I’ve looked at yet small enough to be comfortably carried all day. Is it the “most efficient and practical all round carryall ever designed?” Well, I have yet to find one better so I cannot argue with the statement and at a price of just £29.99 why look any further?

Thanks to Dave Burr for this Review.

 

TF Gear Trail Blazer Barrow and Bag

TFG Trail Blazer Barrow

I’ve tested out the new TF Gear Trail Blazer Barrow for some time now, and really put it through its paces. It caters for all my angling needs, from carting my excessive amount of fishing tackle around a 70 acre lake for 3 days fishing, to light loads for a day session. The barrow is lightweight and has adjustable front and side bars for larger loads with 2 adjustable back legs. When fully loaded, the barrow has a good centre balance and really impressed me by not tipping over – something which has happened to me on numerous previous occasions. The barrow comes with 2 bungee ropes that hook onto 4 rings which are built into the framework for better grip.
The frame is lightweight and has a removable wheel for ease of loading in your car, with screw-in hands making the barrow useable in a matter of seconds. The tyre has good tread that is nice and thin which helps when pushing over rough terrain. You can even place 2 buckets at the back of the barrow which will rest on the 2 bars perfectly when requiring more space.

TF Gear Force 8 Heavy Duty Barrow Bag

The barrow bag is the perfect accessory for the barrow, with a hard top and bottom and heavy duty material which will protects all your gear inside. The bag comes with 4 large pockets on the outside, and one large pocket in the lid with a heavy duty zip. Inside the bag there are pockets built into the back and sides for easy organisation of your tackle. For the best result, try 2 barrow bags –  this will take all your gear and fits on the barrow perfectly side by side.