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Big Pike and Chub...But Very Little Fishing - Tony’s Specialist Scene


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Last month was tough...for many reasons  - but February is looking better! Last month was tough...for many reasons - but February is looking better!

Tony is getting increasingly frustrated by his lack of fishing, but looking forward to some February excitement.








If I thought that I was getting a little frustrated with my lack of fishing last month, then having to go an extra month with no real opportunities to get out on the bank at all has driven me half crazy!

A lethal combination of way too much work, really rotten weather conditions when I’ve been presented with a bit of spare time and a ‘full-on’ dose of illness - that has included several weeks’ worth of a long-running chesty cough and horrible throat type thing (and for a week or so running alongside a particularly nasty eye infection) - have all added up to having zero chance of wetting a line for another lengthy spell.  

Just to top things off the house move with my girlfriend, that we were hoping to get sorted for the near future, has gone through a period when it was ‘on’, then suddenly ‘off’ just before the final paperwork was due to be sorted, then almost as suddenly back ‘on’ again just as we were coming to terms with the likelihood that we weren’t going to be moving.

All in all, the first month of the year has been a pretty manic and frustrating period when  the fishing has had to be bumped down the priority list. I’ll be immensely glad when things start to calm down a bit.

It’s probably not helped to lessen my own frustration, but during the milder spells in the last month some of my mates have managed to get out and bag themselves some really good fish.

The big water pike (as they often seem to do) appear to respond quickly to a thaw with a major feeding spell taking place as the ice melts. I’ve had a couple of friends reporting some good pike of well over 20lb, which is really whetting my appetite for when I’m actually able to get out on the bank myself.

There does seem to be a bit of a pattern with big water pike getting caught during a thaw, as I remember a couple of separate instances from many years ago when I did a lot of pike fishing on Sywell Reservoir in Northamptonshire. Two or three times I’d  managed to time a day’s pike fishing for when the ice was slowly retreating back towards the areas from where I’d been catching from before the freeze up.

The tactic was to keep moving a rod to fish as close to the edge of the ice, and therefore as close to the ‘hot spot’, as possible. Inevitably as soon as the retreating ice allowed you to cast a bait near the edge of the ‘hot spot’ it would produce a bite. Sport could be fast and furious from then on as it seemed as through the pike had been waiting for the ice to clear overhead before going on a proper munch. Obviously the thing to do was to move as many rods / baits as possible into the ‘hot spot’ as the ice allowed in order to take full advantage of the mini feeding frenzy.  

While some of the pike have been very nice fish, the pick of the bunch of good fish recently reported by my mates has to be the amazing chub caught from the River Lea by my good friend Simon King. At a whopping 8lb 14oz it’s one of the biggest river chub ever landed! Also just reward for Simon who has put in loads of effort over the years, catching several 7lb plus fish in his quest for an ‘8’. He’s certainly managed that in fine style! A detailed account of Simon’s amazing catch, told by the man himself, can be found HERE

Simon with his River Lea fish of 8lb 14ozI first met Simon many years ago when I was regularly fishing the river Lea around the Carthagena area, searching for my first 7lb chub. We bumped into each other on several occasions and would often spend a bit of time in each other’s swims, swapping notes and a host of other stories and I’m glad to say that we’ve kept in contact ever since.

I’m looking forward to getting down that way again at some point in time so I can meet up with Simon (and Bob Hornegold who I also struck up a friendship with) so we can swap a load more stories and share a session back on the river again. Perhaps I’ll manage to squeeze that particular trip in before the end of the season, but then with the list of other things that I’ve got to somehow fit into the next couple of months it’s something that might have to be postponed for another year.    

Fortunately I’ve got some really exciting fishing to look forward to in February, as I’ll be joining Ian Hardman on a couple of separate two-day sessions pike fishing from the banks of Chew Valley Reservoir. The first one is coming up within days, so isn’t going to make the logistics of the house move a couple of days later any easier… but there was no chance that I was going to cancel!

I’ve only ever pike fished at Chew on one previous occasion, which was last year when I was able to share a day on the bank with fellow Northampton Specimen Group member Paul Douglas. ‘Dougie’ fished well and conjured up a handful of runs; extracting two or three fish to mid-doubles. Fortunately I managed to avoid a blank, as an early morning run to a herring deadbait produced a fish around the 7lb mark (if memory serves correctly).   

We may not have caught anything big, but the session was a memorable one and the venue is capable of producing a proper monster, so every run really gets the old ticker thumping away.

Pike fishing on ChewI was rather saddened to read somewhere that some of the regular Chew Valley trout anglers are getting rather disgruntled by the fact that ‘their’ water is being used by pikers. What’s the harm, especially when the actual pike fishing dates are limited and take place at a time of year when the trout fisherman are less likely to be fishing the water anyway?  I’d have thought they’d be grateful for the extra revenue generated by the pike fishermen helping to keep the trout stocks at a good level and their own ticket prices down.

I’m also hoping to get back on the rivers before the end of the season. I particularly wanted to do a load  more of the dace fishing that I got really enthusiastic about last winter, but so far I haven’t been able to do any at all. They’ll be at their biggest weights over the next few weeks, as the females start to fatten up prior to spawning.

A bunch of other species start to get towards their peak weights over the next few weeks, as the early spawners, such as pike, perch etc, go on a bit of an intensive feeding spell and the egg carrying females start to fatten up. It’s a good time for specimen hunters to put in that bit of extra effort for some of these specific species if there’s the opportunity. The weather conditions can be a bit of a gamble at this time of year, but if you get it right then some really good fish, or dramatic catches, are on the cards. 


Something else that I’m really looking forward to, and will have already taken place before you get to see my next diary piece, is the Carpin’ On show at the excellent Five Lakes venue in Essex that takes place over the first weekend in March.

With Rod Hutchinson (M) and Mark Holmes (R) on the PAG standFrom a coarse angler all-rounder’s perspective, the timing of the event could be better, as it’s so close to the end of the rivers season. However, as I’m due to be manning the Predation Action Group (PAG) stand over the weekend and it’s something that I feel strongly about and want to support, I’ll be there if at all possible. I did the same last year, and although the days were long and drinking sessions in the evening were something of a marathon, the support for the PAG, both from the general public and the carp fishing personalities was really encouraging. 

If you were planning on coming to the show, or happen to be in the area anyway, then please make the effort to find the PAG stand and come over for a chat; I’ll be very pleased to see you!    

With the interesting fishing opportunities coming up over the next few weeks I’m looking forward to reporting on some real fishing experiences rather than just moaning about a lack of opportunity, or reminiscing about past sessions. You never know I might even be able to tell you all about the capture of a proper ‘whacker’… so keep your fingers crossed for me! 

So until next time... ‘Happy fishing!’


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Pike Fishing, chub fishing, Tony Gibson