I've had the urge to go pike fishing since the beginning of the Autumn, but I try to hold back until the weather cools off, for the sake of the pike’s well-being.
I’d been looking forward to this winter as I had been lucky enough to secure a few days fishing on the mighty Chew valley reservoir. To me, travelling down to Bristol to fish Chew is what I describe as lottery pike fishing. It doesn't matter what previous pike fishing experience you may have if you have a few tickets in the Chew lottery you stand as much chance as anyone of a big pike! Generally, the people who catch the most, large pike in Chew are the people with the most tickets.
I could now waffle on about me being a fantastic pike angler and what wonder methods I used to catch a few Chew pike, but I keep things very simple. My gear is strong and reliable, 58lb braided mainline, A Running Rig, 28lb wire trace and either size 6 or 4 semi barbless trebles depending on my bait size.
One other thing worth a mention before talking about my results is the importance of good quality bait. I like to make sure I’m prepared with some super fresh deadbaits. Turbo smelt if I can source any, fresh herring and fresh mackerel. In fact, the mackerel I took where caught myself earlier in the summer and froze the day they left they sea.
My first two days on the bank were with regular fishing buddy Jason. Lots of big pike had been caught in the opening weeks many of which from the Stratford bay area. Whenever I fish Chew I prefer to try to keep away from the crowds and make news rather than follow old news. We both agreed on trying a fairly under fished area close to the entrance of Stratford, the theory being the angling pressure may push fish out of the bay. It was a nightmare to access and involved a long walk through knee high grass and reeds - not to mention the mud.
We need to take our baits out approximately 100 yards to find about 10 feet of water where it began to drop off. As always we bingo the rods, this means mixing the rods up so we share the swim fairly. It wasn't long before a drop off fell and the alarm was screaming and lucky for me, it was one of my rods! A short tussle saw a small pike under 10lbs unhooked safely in the margins.
Over the next couple of hours, the drop-offs fell several more times but nearly every take was on one of Jason’s rods. His best two fish being a mid-double and more than welcome 25lber. That was the excitement over and during the next day and a half I had the only other chance being another jack.
The following week saw me back, this time with my friend Jed. I don't think Jed will mind me saying he is a new comer to pike fishing and his aim was his first 20lb+, well his aim was a few bites first if we are honest. We had a plan on where we fancied but unless you’re willing to sleep in your van behind the gates that access the lake you sometimes must settle for where ever you end up. Big pike have been caught all around the lake and there are lots of swims I feel confident in.
We ended up fishing an area that has a very shallow gradient that required us boating baits out over 100 yards to find 8 feet of water. But I still felt confident of a bite. The first couple hours pasted without any action. Typically, as soon as the sausages where on the go my drop off fell. I wound down to feel that lovely solid resistance and thumping of a good fish.. I kept the pressure on and tried to keep it moving towards me. The fish went solid in some weed but I kept the pressure on as I waded out to net my prize. My heart was pumping as there are enormous pike to be caught in Chew. I saw a large clump of weed wrapped around my line and began to tear it away to reveal what was underneath. Under the weed was a smelt! The fish had escaped during the fight and I hadn't realised. I was gutted!
The rod was placed back on the spot and we continued to cook breakfast with tales of what could of just fell off. Before I even had a chance to finish cooking, the same rod was away again. I wound down and pulled hard to set the hooks and saw a nice sized pike erupt on the surface at long range. The fight was great, flat rodding me for the first 10 seconds. I was so nervous after losing the first fish. But slowly I got the upper hand and a 20lb plus pike went safely into the net, while Jed took charge of the sausages!