Sunday, 17 February 2013

Chew valley reservoir pike fishing - The only way is Essox

Just after New Year the phone lines were opened at Woodford lodge to accept bookings for pike fishing at Chew reservoir. This is the first year that this system has been used and it was obvious that those telephones were going to be on fire with hundreds of hopeful anglers attempting to book some fishing. There has been plenty of criticism of the old system where you had to email or write in to request dates which were dished out lottery style but the new system must surely have caused all involved more headaches and I think ideally somewhere between the two would make a happy medium. I was lucky in that I got through on the phone quickly and as my plans for the rest of the river season were already laid out I just booked a couple of bank days in November and left it at that. Later in the day I got a call from Phil Smith asking if I fancied a two day boat trip in February. I was in two minds to be honest, I've done very little boat angling but I do know that a day out on the water in the worst that February can throw at you wouldn't be pleasant especially as my back was still a tad iffy after the motor accident late last year. However you've got to be in it to win it so after checking with 'er indoors that it wouldn't clash with our holiday plans I rang Phil back and the trip was on.

Looking at the weather forecast a few days before the trip one thing stuck out like a sore thumb, wind and plenty of it. Cold weather we would just have to cope with but wind could well mean no boats were allowed onto the water and I didn't much fancy a 150 mile drive to be told that we couldn't fish, what I didn't realise is that if the boats didn't go out you were welcome to bank fish. Phil rang the lodge the day before we were due on and their assessment was that it was looking unlikely boat wise and if we wanted to bank fish that was our choice so I packed the van with the extra kit needed and set the alarm for far too early before turning in for the night. As I have come to expect I was awake before the alarm went off, in fact if I was awake much earlier I wouldn't have been to sleep at all. I had considered not bothering and driving straight down the evening before and kipping in the van but thought better of it, some sleep is better than none when you've got a long drive in front of you.

The rods were cast out into the half light of dawn, both with a sardine attached that I had collected on a mad dash around the supermarkets of Leicestershire the previous afternoon. I fell lucky at the fourth shop, on any other day the flaming things would have been falling out of the doors but no, when I'm in a rush they'll be like gold dust. The wind was howling over our shoulders with a vengeance and neither of us expected the boats to be seen so we were happy that we'd made the right move. I stuck my shelter up and sat back for a long wait only to get disturbed not long afterwards by the sight of Phil picking up one of his rods and striking into a fish. That was a brilliant sign so early in the day, a definite confidence booster in the shape of a snapper just shy of 16lb's.

Not long after we'd sorted that fish out and returned it I was standing behind my rods when the right hand drop off hit the ground and line very slowly started to slip from the spool. I picked the rod up and let the line tighten to the tip before whacking into the fish. From the fight it didn't feel a bad fish but I soon had it close in over the shallow water where Phil scooped it up with the net. First impressions when peering into the mesh were that it was going to be twenty pounds plus but I hadn't allowed for just how deep these trout water fish are for their length and once it was on the mat it was obviously going to be well into the mid twenties. In fact it went 26lb 4oz on the scales and was the biggest pike I'd had by a few pounds, you can't get a better start to a session than that.

26lb 4oz

I was chuffed to bits at that result and would quite happily have blanked for the rest of the two days without complaint but fate threw me a very lucky hand less than two hours later when the same rod showed another take. I was a bit fortunate as I bent into the fish a bit further back into the strike than I would have liked but the hooks were set nevertheless and this pike was a lot livelier than the first. Almost straight away the fish shot off to the right at speed and I had to be quick off the mark to stop the line catching in a small bush submerged in front of the swim before legging it into Phil's swim where we had to do the old under and over dance to untangle my line from his. I ended up in a small gap to the right of the swim and I thought I'd pretty much got the fish under control as it came in under the rod tip but it then did an about turn and shot off towards the far bank turbo style, throwing half of its length clear of the water as it did so, I won't forget that for a while, absolutely brilliant! That little trick must have worn the pike out and I'm not sure that my ticker could cope with a repeat performance anyway so it's probably a good thing that it was soon in the net. After seeing the previous fish I now had a good idea of what I was looking at and the reading of 27lb 10oz on the scales wasn't as much a surprise as the whole experience was mind blowing, talk about a bit of luck eh, stunned probably best sums it up. I certainly can't claim that there was much skill on my part involved in the captures but that's fishing isn't it, as someone said to me last week sometimes most of the hard work is in actually making the effort to get to the water and he was right. A small jack came to the rods a little while later but that was the end of the day's action, you won't hear me complaining though.

27lb 10oz

Not long after I had returned the 27lb fish news started to filter through about the very sad passing of Terry Lampard. The huge number of tributes posted on the internet speaks volumes, most of us didn't know or even meet the man but his impact on the angling world was huge, a truly great angler. It certainly put the day's events into perspective, no matter what you catch at the end of the day it's just a bit of fishing isn't it. 

Though we had a boat booked and paid for it didn't take much thinking about to decide to stick with the bank fishing for another day and a phone call to the lodge confirmed that it would be ok to do so. I spent my first night kipping in my new luxury fishing accommodation i.e. the van, and despite having my doubts I slept like a baby which was probably something to do with only having three hours the night before. Dropping back into the same swims we again had the baits out for first light and settled back to see what the day would bring. There was a very sharp frost that lasted well into mid morning and though the wind had dropped to just a light breeze it was still from the north and was far from warm. Phil had a take early on that produced a fish of just under twenty pounds and the trout were much more active with a good few twitches and pulls that resulted in mashed up baits but other than that the day was quiet. I did have a fish pull the line from the clip right on last knockings but the strike met fresh air and I suspect that another trout was responsible, like I said to Phil if that had been my only decent indication of the trip I would have been left wondering what might have been.

Apologies if I have subconciously pinched the "only way is essox" bit from someone, it came to me in a state of sleep deprivation and made me chuckle so if you thought of it first, nice one!


  1. Chew is a dream lake and all of yours were answered, a fantastic result.

    1. It certainly is Dave, the thought of what might be lurking in front of you on that place is frightening

  2. Been looking forward to reading about that trip of yours to Chew, some absolutely amazing pike, is it possible for that to ever happen again, a brace of Pike over 50lb truly brilliant well done. James

  3. Seriously Rob they are absolutely stunning Pike, couldn't dream of catching 1 let or lone 2! , was looking forward to seeing this post since spotting it on Phil's blog last week. Amazing fish and well in.


  4. Cheers James, sorry for the late reply I've been on holiday. Lady luck was certainly shining my way that day