Chew Valley Lake 8:00am, it’s an excited gathering of anglers as always struggling to the boats with masses of piking tackle. There were the normal sprinkling of BIG NAMES in pike fishing amongst the eager group. I Have fished Chew on numerous occasions since it opened to pike fishing in October 2001 and always relish the challenge.

            The early morning sun illuminated the vast lake as Bruce Elston and I  loaded our gear into the boat. We discussed where we would fish and decided to go against the general wisdom and head for deep water close to the dam. The well known Stratford area would undoubtedly be packed with boats and we just didn’t want to be amongst the crowds. Big pike have been caught from all around Chew Valley Lake so whilst location is the key it is a big lake and it might not always pay to follow the crowds.

            To some extent my approach to fishing has changed over the years and enjoyment of the day is undoubtedly my number one aim. This may to some extent have been influenced by catching a 38lb pike earlier in the year a fish of a lifetime that I may never surpass. That fish was caught on a fly and both Bruce and I now question the benefits of targeting the pike during the trials at a higher cost when the fish can be caught on fly tackle.

            That said there is something special about watching floats bobbing upon a lake and the expectation of their disappearance at any moment. I cannot say for certain which approach I prefer or which is the. most effective.

            We agreed to troll lures on the way to our first location and were rewarded with a jack each. Using an echo sounder we located the boat close to where the bottom contours indicated a significant drop off. We then dropped anchors to ensure the boat remained stable and cast out dead-baits spread around the boat. It was now time to pour a fresh coffee and gather our thoughts.

            Bruce was first into a fish on a horse mackerel dead bait a small jack of perhaps 4lb.

            The conditions were certainly very pleasant for early autumn with a gentle breeze and brilliant blue sky.

            After an hour anchored up with dead baits and the occasional search around with various spinners we decided upon a move to a bay further along the West bank.

            After dropping anchor, I had a cast with the lure and immediately connected with a pike of around 8lb. We enjoyed further success from this location with Bruce adding another couple of jacks to dead-baits.

            Throughout the day we tried a few different spots, trolled a bit and varied our lures searching each area carefully. The autumn colours were showing on bankside trees. Swans and geese occasionally flew over and grebes glided on the water hunting for fish. High in the sky large planes flew to a fro from nearby Bristol Airport and wondered where they were headed?

            Bruce and I both watched our pike floats intently willing them to disappear. Time as always ebbed away and our dreams of monster pike slowly evaporated as the sun sank in the Western sky.

            We had boated 14 jacks between us, ten to Bruce and four to me.


            Bruce fished with his good friend Stuart Calder the following day. They chose to anchor up in the renowned Stratford area as thick mist hung over the lake. Early in the day Stuart boated a fine pike of 26lb 10oz. Bruce blanked. Chew is a big lake and each day deals a different hand there are many variables that go to make the game so fascinating and addictive.

26lb 10oz of prime pike

            We will be back in the Spring Fly rods in hand casting in hope and hopefully connecting with one of those famous Chew Valley Giants.