Chew pike

Pike Trials Success

The Chew Pike Trials began last Monday and are now into their 2nd 5-day session.  At least one 30lb fish has been caught every day and sometimes two in a day!  This is in addition to many big 20's and a host of doubles.  Even the smaller fish; which many thought were not present last year, have made a welcome appearance, so all is well with the Chew pike population.
The roach and perch shoals are absolutely immense and will provide food for the predatory fish and the overwintering trout.  Sadly there are already over 200 cormorants on Chew Valley and this is not good news for these baitfish.  

My best fish last week weighed 31:08 and was part of an 11 fish haul to lures with John Synnuck, whose best fish was 21:08, while I managed another of 23:00.  Yesterday I fished with Nigel Snell and his son Josh and we boated just the 3 fish - Nigel had a 6:00 pike then I had one of 23:00, before Nigel topped the day off nicely with a beauty at 27:08.  Once again the fish took either Fox Replicant Lures or Silver Spoons.

So far during these Pike Trials we have boated 30 pike on lures and as the water cools, I think the big fish will feed harder and the fishing could get even better!
Most anglers are anchoring and fishing deadbaits with limited success as I feel the pike are not really hungry yet due to the availability of the baitfish.  After the success of the BLAC Lure Final, where over 250 pike were taken on lures in a day, I am amazed that more anglers havent taken to drifting Chew using lures, rather than sitting it out over 4 deads waiting for the pike to strike?  Still, I suppose it must come down to a lack of confidence in lure fishing or simply the misguided belief that big Chew pike only take deadbaits.

I expect I will also fish deads when it gets too cold to feel my fingers, but until then, I will be casting those lures and trying to cover as much of Chew's 1200 acres as possible!

Trout fishing until 9th November

Although all the boats on Chew are sold out during mid week, there are still weekend flyfishing boats available for trout (or pike)  up till and including Sunday 9th November.  On days when the wind drops I have recently witnessed some excellent buzzer hatches and trout rising to them all day - particularly in the Stratford and Herriots area of the lake.  Dry fly will be the method for these rising trout, with Hoppers, Bobs Bits and Carrot Flies being the best patterns by far.

If the winds stop the trout from rising, then try larger fry imitating lures such as Minkies, Sparklers and the good old Humungous Lure.  A DI3 is the best line to fish these fry patterns and anywhere across the lake is worth a try.  However, with the masses of fry near the landing stages and cages, this has to be a hot spot.  I have had some huge brownies chase my pike lures and also some cracking rainbows - even though they are too big for them to take effectively.

There are also thousands of great perch near the cages and Sailing Club and fly is way better than lures to tempt them.  Last season I had a day on the perch and caught so many I lost count.  My best perch weighed 4:01 and my best double-up was a 3:11 on the point fly with a 3:12 on the dropper!

Birdlife amazing

Recently there have been some great bird sightings on Chew.  An Ospreys has been present for several weeks as a visitor during it's migration to warmer climes.  I have spotted it diving to take roach off the surface several times and it really is an exciting sight.
Last week a Phalarope was present for a few days as was a juvenile Great Skua - I wish that more of those were present because the gulls are scared witless when it is around!  I also saw a Peregrine chasing and bombing ducks on one day, while the Little Egrets are still around and there numbers seem to be growing each year.

Bob Handford retires

After a career with Bristol Water spanning 47 years, Bob Handford finally retired last week.  There was a gathering of many anglers to wish Bob a long and happy retirement, with the BRFFA presenting him with a new fishing rod in recognition for all his dedicated and helpful service to anglers visiting the Bristol Waters over the years.  Bob has been such a helpful person over the years and his presence will be missed.

In the meantime, Bob's assistant Tony Donnelly will take up the reins and will do a great job.  Tony has been assistant fisheries manager now for over 3 years and in that time has made some significant improvements to the fisheries.  I am sure that Tony will fill Bob's boots perfectly and with him, the future of these famous fisheries will be assured.

My 31:08 lure caught Chew pike
John Synnuck with a 21:08 Chew pike
Nigel Snell's 27:08 Chew pike

3rd Place in BLAC Lure Final

On Saturday I joined 59 other finalists for the British Lure Angling Championships Final on Chew Valley Lake.  From a total entry of over 450, the Grand Final was contested by 60 qualifiers and many of them extremely well known lure anglers.

My boat partner was Rado Papiewski from Poland who also works for the Angling Trust, so we would have lots to chat about.  Hopefully with plenty of pike as well. Right from the off, we had agreed not to specifically target the perch - nothing wrong with doing that, but we both felt we wanted to fish for pike.
It rained from the word go, but our spirits were not dampened.

I am not a fan of anchoring so we drifted from the start in deep water by the sailing club where I had recently had pike in 24 to 30 feet of water - and on the fly too!  Rado had the first pike at over 80cms which was a good start.  Then I had two others, with Rado also getting one.  We also lost a few.  However, it soon became clear that the bait fish had moved closer to the shore and the anchored boats in 15 to 18 feet of water were reaping the rewards.  Ben Humber was on fire and had almost filled his sheet with some fantastic perch and several pike by lunchtime.  We needed to move.

Out we went to Nunnery and we both had 2 more pike to the boat and lost 2 others - all in 40 minutes.  Rado hooked a cracking pike of around 20lbs and I quickly grabbed his net and netted it for him - the fish then jumped out of the net and left the lure embedded in the mesh.  "Ah well" said Rado - "these Chew fish dont know when they're beaten". 
"You're gonna need a bigger net in future" was on my mind, but at that point, I thought it best to keep my gob shut!

Then we had to break for lunch prepared for us by the Polish Anglers Club and as I love Polish Sausage, that break was excellent.  It also gave us all time to dry out our soaking wet clothes - a bit!

The afternoon 4 hour session saw the sun come out and the winds rise - never good for fishing on Chew.  Still, we searched out lots of shallow areas and were soon rewarded with plenty of hits and several pike to the boat.  GAME ON!
That session, Rado and I boated another 22 pike up to around the 17lbs mark and also lost at least another 15!  Oh how I hate barbless hooks.

What a session though and I ended with 17 pike and Rado 13.

Ben Humber had not had a great afternoon session and finished in runner up position, while all rounder Steve Collett added another 4 pike to his morning tally of 3, but also added an amazing 40 perch to become the BLAC Lure Champion for 2014.  Steve is a top angler and thoroughly deserved his win.  Ben had the trophy in his grasp, but let it fall away in the afternoon session.  Great angling skills though by a really nice bloke.

Me?  By lunchtime I realised I was out of it, but was determined to persevere chasing the Chew Pike on the drift and was really proud to have landed the most pike caught by the 60 anglers on the day.  My boat partner Rado fished like a "Chew regular" and his 13 pike got him 6th place overall.  Our boat haul of 30 pike was also the best pike catch of the match.

But ultimately it was the event that was the real success, with anglers from all over the UK and many from Poland fishing on what has to be the best lake in Europe.  no less than 222 Pike and 200 Perch were recorded - the biggest pike measured 120cms (approx 35lbs + and not weighed) and was landed by Ben Tregoning, while the best perch measured 50cms and weighed 3lbs 14ozs, although bigger ones were lost.

Julian Chidgey organised the entire event in impecable style, while Andy Ford of SKY TV's Tight Lines ensured the match will feature next week on Sky TV.  Angling Times will also feature the Final in the next issue.  Roll on next year!!!

Top 3 in the BLAC Lure Final on Chew Valley Lake
Rado with a cracking Chew pike
Fish finder showing the massive roach shoals on Chew

32:08 Pike for Neil Leaver

On Tuesday my guest Neil Leaver boated this beautifully marked 32:08 pike - his Personal Best by a long shot!
Neil was fishing with John Synnuck and I on the second day of the 2014 Spring Pike Trials.

The previous day, all boats were cancelled due to the very strong Southerly winds, so John and Neil were forced to return home to the London area and drive back the following day.  My boat was cancelled on the Monday and they had a boat booked for the Tuesday, but they had no hesitation making the 300 mile round journey twice in as many days - and thank goodness they did!

Neil's fish took a floatfished mackerel deadbait in Villice Bay just after 12:30.

I then decided to have a fish and threw a few lures in the vicinity.  Within 10 minutes, a cracking 27:10 pike took my soft plastic lure and made it a great day to remember.

Since then, the boats have again been cancelled due to the high winds on the Wednesday, but bank anglers continued to do well and this culminated with Chew's biggest ever pike coming out at 44:06 - what a monster of a fish and congratulations to it's captor.

The next week of trials begins tomorrow (Monday) and I have a boat with my good friend Daryl Hunter.  Let's hope that the winds drop as they are forecast and we can cover lots of water using lures rather than deadbaits.

I truly believe that Chew Valley will produce a record UK pike for some lucky angler in the foreseeable future - and personally, I hope it comes out on a fly.  Now wouldn't that be amazing?

Neil Leaver and his 32:08 Chew pike
My 27:10 Chew pike on a lure

Catch us on Tight Lines this Friday!

This Friday, 10th January 2014, Tony Donnelly and myself are featured catching pike on lures at Chew Valley Lake.
The footage was filmed during the Autumn pike trials and we had fish to over 20lbs to our boat.

The vast majority of pike trials anglers use static deadbaits to get their pike, but this episode clearly shows that big Chew pike love lures!

If you don't have Sky Sports, then you can catch the Podcast on the Sky Sports Web Site.

England World Team call-up

Last week I received the call every competition fly fisher wants to get - being told you are in the England Team for the forthcoming World Championships.
This year the World Championships will be held in the Czech Republic - home to the current World Champions!

There will be two lake sessions and three river sessions and I feel we have a very strong team that definitely has a chance of bringing home a medal.
The England Team are:-
Phil Dixon
Andrew Scott
John Tyzack
John Horsey
Howard Croston
Res. Mike Dixon
Manager - Paul Page

Chew almost full!

The recent storms have had a real impact on Chew Valley Lake and it is a mere inches off being at top level.  Last week I posted a pic of the spillway being a few feet off top water, but look at the pic I took today.

Chew almost at top water level

Perch and Pike on Chew

For the last week I have enjoyed the most amazing perch and trout fishing on Chew and now that the Pike Trials have begun, the pike have turned up in big numbers and some of them are HUGE!

I had my PB Perch on the fly a few days ago at exactly 4:00 and with it on the same leader was another at 3:02!  Barry Hawyes and Steve Harding also had their PB's at 3:13 and 3:02 respectively.  My best brace (on the same cast) weighed 3:11 and 3:09 - a stunning 7:04 in the net at the same time.

Now the pike trials have begun and on the Opening Day I had a beauty at 27:12, while Gavin Young had a 32lb fish and there was also a 31lb taken from the boats.  On day 2, a bank angler had a magnificent 42lb croc and today I saw another 30lb fish taken.  There have also been at least 20 over 20lbs caught in the first 3 days.

So my question is:- where the hell have they been when I have been fly fishing for them??????

My best ever brace of Chew perch at 3:11 and 3:09
My 27:12 Chew pike
Barry Hawyes with his PB 3:13 Chew perch

Chew Special on Sky TV

 Only 2 days to go before I go into the Sky Sports TV Studios to join Keith Arthur in the "Bothy" for an episode-long Chew Valley fishing "Special".

Keith and I fished Chew a few weeks ago and the Sky cameras were there to film it all.

We began the day fishing for trout and the Chew rainbows did not let us down.  Plenty of action with some cracking trout being caught.

Then we turned the attention to the Chew Pike - again on the fly.  Keith had a near double, so did I, but later we had something special.
All will be revealed on Friday's show.

Tight Lines, Sky Sports 3, Friday 5th July at 7:00pm

Keith Arthur and the Sky TV Crew

Ireland, Filming and Fishing

 The last 2 weeks have been pretty hectic.  First I guided each day on Chew and then filmed a "special" on Chew with Keith Arthur and the Sky TV cameras for Tight Lines.
We started off the day fishing for trout and had some cracking rainbows to over 4lbs - with Keith taking the best on a floating line with a Diawl Bach Nymph.
Then we had a go for the pike and both of us had one pretty quickly, but as the day went on, the rain got heavier and heavier.  We were about to call it a day when we landed a beauty - but you'll have to wait until Friday 5th July to see the action on Sky's Tight Lines when I am joining Keith in the Bothy for a "Chew Special" programme.

Ireland and Lough Derg

The very next day I caught the ferry from Liverpool to Dublin and then drove the 3 hours route down to Portumna and the mighty Lough Derg.  At 29 miles long, this is a brute of a lough, but full of fish.  We were filming for the Irish Tourist Board and along with top matchman Baz Simth, we landed over 200lbs of quality roach, bream and roach/bream hybrids over the two day-sessions.

I also lure fished for pike and along with top Irish Guide Dave Harris, we landed plenty of fish with 3 decent doubles and a couple of big fish lost upon the way.

There were also lots of mayfly coming off and I had a few chances at the big brownies, but sadly blew my chances when I was broken twice and then missed the best take of the day by striking too quickly - BAD ANGLING!!!!!

Back to Chew

Yesterday I fished with Anthony Tabor and his father John.  The weather was awful - strong, cold winds and unrelentless blue skies - fleece weather but also high factor sunscreen!  We fished long and hard with nymphs and floaters, but John managed only 1 good rainbow in 6 hours of drifting and fishing the known hotspots.
Anthony was happy to try the sinking lines, so on went a DI3 and our fortunes changed instantly.  
We drifted from the North Shore across to Denny Island and in 2 hours had boated another 10 rainbows and lost several others.  John also switched to a slow sinking Intermediate and he too joined in the action.
 
Boobies, Blobs and Nymphs all caught fish and the action was at times frantic, with some great fighting fish. 
 

Lexus Heat on Blagdon

Today I held the first ever Lexus Individual Heat on Blagdon and it was a raging success.  In the sell-out Floating Lines Only Heat, the average catch per rod was 8.5, with an amazing average weight of 2lbs 11ozs.

Top rod was Mark Stevens, who qualified for the Grand Final at Chew in September and won an emboidered Greys jacket and a pair of Ugly Fish Sunglasses.  The other qualifiers, who all won Greys reels were John Piper, Wayne Aitken, Jim Purvis, Mark Thomas, Alex Johnstone, Steve Ebdon and John Glanfield.

 

Baz Smith and me with Lough Derg Bream and Hybrid
John Tabor with fin perfect Chew Rainbow
Keith Arthur's best Chew rainbow

Great new Bristol Water Web Site

 Bristol Water have a fantastic new Web Site.

Check out www.bristolwaterfisheries.co.uk and see for yourselves.

All the latest reports, tips and "how to" methods, plus all the up-to-date competitions and events on both Chew Valley and Blagdon Lakes.

If you want some free tuition days with me - then all the dates are on the new site.

There are even brand new VIDEO CLIPS  for both TROUT and PIKE featuring top anglers.

So log on to www.bristolwaterfisheries.co.uk and check out all these new features.

 

What a week on Chew!

 This last week has been sensational on Chew - apart from the weather - which has been dreadful.  Cold winds, rain and hail storms have dominated the forecast, but the Chew trout and pike have fed well.
I started the week on Sunday where I fished my England Qualifier and failed to make the cut for the National at Grafham by a mere 4ozs!
Chew fished very well on the day, with no less than 30 of the 38 competitors taking their 12 fish limit bags.  We fished to a very sensible 6 fish kill, then 6 fish release with a further 2lbs an hour time bonus.

I caught my first 6 fish in Villice Bay using nymphs on a floating line within 55 minutes, but switching to debarbed hooks and moving about to find some new fish, meant I lost both several fish and some all important time.  I completed my 6th released fish at 13:45, but sadly my total weight fell agonisingly short of the qualifying cut-off weight of 36lbs 9ozs.

Congratulations to those who qualified, with newcomer dale Burgess winning the day.  Fisheries manager Tony Donnelly also qualified for the National and I wish all the qualifiers well for the Grafham finale - I only wish I was joining you!

Pike

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I hosted ian Gregg's party of anglers and fisheries biologists for their 9th annual trip after the Chew Pike.  The "Chew Valley Pikers" managed a very creditable 33 pike over the 3 days, with Eric Hope taking the best brace of the season so far at 28lbs 2ozs and 27lbs.  Keith Hendry had a 23lb 8ozs tagged fish, while brother Cliff also had a tagged fish of 16lbs.  Ian Gregg had a 26lb pike, while James Stephens landed another fish of 26lbs 8ozs.

Next week Sky TV's Keith Arthur and the film crew will be fishing with me, so I am keeping everything crossed that the weather will be kinder than this week.

Chew Valley Pikers on Chew
Eric Hope's 28lb 2oz Chew pike
Keith Hendry with a cracking 23lb 8oz Chew pike

John Synnuck's 28lb Pike

 Last Monday John Synnuck and I fished the 1st day of Chew Valley Pike Trials and landed pike of 28lbs and 21lbs 4ozs, plus 2 other doubles and a couple of cracking rainbow trout!
The weather had threatened to cancel all boats due to high winds, but thankfully Chew was fishable all week as the high gusts never materialised.  It was however, very cold and pretty windy, making drifting with lures almost impossible.  So it was reluctantly a time to sit it out with deadbaits and our first fish of the day weighed a creditable 21:04 and fell to my rod.  John soon followed that up with his PB Chew Pike that weighed exactly 28lbs.
We also had a couple of doubles and another at 7lbs with a Tag.  I checked my records and John Synnuck caught that fish with me in October and it weighed 6:12.  Then an hour later that October day, I caught it again!  Amazingly, when I was out the next day, we caught 5 more pike and one of them was that very same fish - complete with Tag!

Overwintering Trout

On the Monday, John and I boated rainbow trout of 3lbs and 5lbs - both took mackerel and were released unharmed.
The next day, my clients landed 3 cracking rainbows; 4lbs, 6:08 and 7:08.  Once again, all went back unharmed and all were extremely fat and fighting fit.

This really bodes well for the coming trout fishing season as it proves the trout are overwintering well on the rich pickings of hoglice and shrimp.

Pike again on Monday

The weather looks set to be fairly calm and a bit warmer for this 2nd set of Chew Pike Trials which begin on Monday.
I am due to be there and am expecting to fish lures on the drift.

Hardly anyone has fished lures during the 1st set of Trials, so it is possible we might find some decent pike well away from where the bait fishers are anchoring.

John Synnuck's 28lb Pike
My 21lb 4oz Pike
A full Chew Valley Lake

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