Arrrggghhhh what’s wrong with me?
Six yes six weeks I’ve been trying to write this blog and every time I’ve sat down in front of the computer my mind’s gone blank. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got plenty of material to write about, it’s just finding the right words at the right time.
Well I’m here now and hopefully once I get going the words will come easily.
The last time I wrote on these pages I was still on a euphoric high after breaking my barbel personal best and with my fishing appetite sated I left the rods alone for a couple of days afterwards, not for too long though…
I had kindly been invited out by good friend Paul Garner for a day’s perch fishing just three days after my barbel session, now anyone who follows Paul via his blog here on FM, or indeed via the press, will know he’s been having great success with his perch fishing, so I readily accepted the offer. Perch are one of the species on my ‘must do more of’ list, I’ve got all the gear but for whatever reason it lays dormant in the garage for long periods of time. ‘Officially’ I didn’t actually have a perch personal best as despite knowing I’d caught several over or around the 3lb mark over the years they were all caught whilst lure fishing for pike in the days before I carried scales in my rucksack. With that in mind I was confident of making it 2 PB’s in the space of a few days.
The method of choice for our session was lure fishing and in particular rubber jigs and shads. Due to slightly cooler temperatures the perch had moved from their recent haunts so fishing lures meant we could cover plenty of water and hopefully locate a fish or two.
The fishing was, as expected, pretty slow to start with and with nothing coming to the bigger shads a change to drop shotting was called for. Setting up on a very slow drift we could slowly work the lures back towards the boat after casting out and almost instantly after making the change Paul was into a fish which dropped off on the retrieve, Paul commenting that it felt a good fish. The very next cast I was into a perch too, although at the time I remember commenting that I thought it was a pike given the ferocious fight it was putting up on the light gear. Paul gave me a knowing look and said I’d be surprised at how well these perch fight and he wasn’t wrong as the biggest perch I’d seen in the flesh suddenly rolled and was engulfed in the nets mesh. I knew it was new ‘official’ PB straight away but just how big was it? The scales told me 3lb 9oz and with that I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat.
I wasn’t given long to bask in the glory though as we had obviously found a few fish and with feeding spells being short I was keen to get back fishing. Within a short space of time I was into another fish and it felt in a similar class to my first, giving a good account of itself in the deep water. It was a few minutes before I got a glimpse of it but when I did it was quite obvious this perch was also in excess of 3lb. I soon had it beaten and on the scales she went 3lb 7oz, great stuff, two bites and a wonderful brace of fish.
Strangely that was the only action of the day a very short, defined feeding spell but who was I to complain? PB number two of the week and with a session on Chew the very next day my confidence was high.
Bristol Water’s Chew Valley Lake divides opinion like no other pike venue. Everyone, whether they choose to fish it or not has got something to say about the place and on occasions it’s not all positive. I’m going to leave the politics regarding this venue alone (for now) and concentrate on the actual fishing.
This year I didn’t apply for any tickets to fish Chew as I didn’t have the time to spend a whole day on the phone. Thankfully, however, several friends did and when a boat seat became available with short notice I was all too happy to grasp the opportunity with both hands. My boat partner for the day was to be Chew veteran Wayne Adcock, I’d met Wayne a few times but we’d never actually fished together. With us having a few mutual friends I had no worries we’d get on so I was thoroughly looking forward to a rare day on the venue.
With Wayne being a regular for many years he was well practised in the art of being first in the queue for the boat numbers, so much so we were half way to our intended spot before another boat had left the jetty!
The previous two days had seen a lot of pike, some of them very big ones, coming from a very defined area so it was no surprise to find ourselves hemmed in by another dozen boats within 15 minutes. Not to worry though as everyone was being courteous and giving one another plenty of room. It soon became apparent, however, that the pike had moved, and in the first hour we saw only one fish caught – a low 20 – so it was time for a move.
With the previous day’s angling pressure Wayne was certain the pike had moved and he had his eye on an area that was yet to see an angler’s bait. Before anyone else cottoned on to where we were going, well almost everyone (as usual Paul Garner had his eye on the ball, spotted what we were up to before anyone else did, and was also soon on the move – resulting in a brace of mid 20’s for him!) we were anchored up and fishing.
With no boats close to us it was nice and peaceful and confidence was high. After 40 minutes or so I decided upon a recast so brought the herring rod in, put a fresh bait on and out it went 50 yards into 14 feet of water. I was just setting the Baitrunner when Wayne commented that line was pouring off the spool on my other rod. If I hadn’t been deadbaiting I could’ve been forgiven for suspecting a carp, such was the ferocity of the take.
I wound straight down and the rod took on a very promising curve and as always on Chew, with the very real possibility of anything up to and over 40lb, it was all I could do to concentrate on the job in hand. The fish wasn’t giving up easily and several times it came close to the boat only to power away at the last second; she was a big fish, easily over 20lb but how much over?
Finally she was ready for the net, quickly unhooking her and getting the sling ready the moment of truth was upon us and when Wayne read out a weight of 25lb 8oz I was absolutely buzzing, three PB’s in five days, what a fantastic week. After a few pics I released her and sat back just trying to take in what I’d achieved.
As with the perch fishing I wasn’t given long to bask in my own glory as the very next cast my float was bobbing around and pike number two was meeting my terminal tackle and bending into the fish I was taken aback by the sheer power, this fish had certainly had its Shredded Wheat for breakfast!
After a few powerful runs she was near the boat but far from ready to give up, I can honestly say I’ve never had a fight from a pike like this one, my arm was aching and every time we thought she was ready off she’d go again. At one point I had the rod at full compression and under the water up to the reel seat to prevent the line grating and breaking on the underneath of the boat.
Finally though she was beaten and rolled close enough for Wayne to net her. He wasn’t too sure of the size as rather than being short and fat like most trout water pike she was long and lean – almost riveresque – and that explained the powerful fight. The scales revealed that my 20-minute-old PB had already been beaten and was now a healthy 25lb 12oz!
Returning the fish it was apparent several other anglers had seen the commotion and we were no longer alone, in fact we were now one of about a dozen boats in the vicinity. Strangely this didn’t affect the fishing as in the next two hours Wayne went on to boat two low doubles whilst I had 12lb and 18lb fish within minutes of each other.
The boats around us performed very well too with pike of (if memory serves me correct) 39.2, 31.4, 30, 34, 29.6 and 26 amongst many others being caught all between 11am and 2pm. What an awesome fishery and one that just keeps on re-writing the rule book. I did manage a couple more days on the fantastic fishery, even managing a very special fish live for the Sky cameras but I’ll leave that until next time…