23 Jul Pike Day – Chew Valley Lake, Somerset
What makes a god fishing lodge is where veterans and rookies come together in friendly atmosphere exchanging news, record fish, and good jokes. That ‘s what you get at Chew Valley Lake managed by Bristol Water Service.
Seb picked me up in Malmesbury and we drove to this beautiful lake south of Bristol for fly fishing for pikes. It is also stocked with brown trouts and rainbow trouts, who become vital food source to pikes who grow beyond 30lb. Average fish is somewhere around 10lb, and Seb made sure that I bring 10wt tackle which I would never imagine to use on freshwater fish.
Then we brought gears and tackles to the dock. Two piers offer engine boats for hire that’s essential transportation to cover the grand size of lake. Chew Valley Lake is man-made shallow lake created by dam and two river inlets, so reading the changes in bottom terrain, which is common in lake fishing, are key factor to play good game.
Seb, a seasoned pike fisher, brought ultimate weapon: Lowrance HDS10. GPS plotter, fish finder, and rador. With years of plotting revealing the terrain, it offers strategic advantage in where and how fishing can be covered. Everything set on boat and we went out for the game around 10am.
We chose drifting boat and blind cast for the day’s game. Points we attacked was in 10-14 feet deep range, so we chose floating line + sinktip + leader + wire bite reader. Casting large weighted fly about 15cm long was real labour! So, it was nice to confirm this method works by seeing Seb getting the first strike and hooked the 10lb fish.Landing pike demands another set of skills. Firstly, you ought to stick your left hands into its gill to open its mouth wide, but gills have stings and you could hurt yourself there. Secondly, you ought to yank the fly out of its mouth that’s when you can hurt yourself badly with its fangs.
We kept blind casting for nearly 12 hours from point to point while drifting boat. I had my first fish chasing fly, 2 strikes, and 1 fish with hook set. It felt like fighting with over 70cm seabass who shook head and tried to dive deep. I must be lowering my concentration, and I gave this fish a trout set… It didn’t set hook properly, and after several headshaking, my first pike came off hook and disappeared into the bottom of lake.
Seb caught his 2nd fish in the late afternoon. We also spotted 30lb fish suspending in the middle of water which is quite odd scene.
So, it wasn’t perfect day for both of us, but I felt the fish myself too. 12 hours of blind casting heavy weight tackle wasn’t easy labour, and it must be tiresome to keep checking coordinates and setting boat for drifting. There is more than luck, but absolute experience that separates Seb catching 2 fish and I catching zero. You gotta cast heavy rig far from boat, for I only got strikes when I cast successfully far enough.
Chew Valley Lake is surrounded by warm hospitality and scenic beauty, and I strongly recommend trying pike game when you visit England.
Seb: 2 catch (10lb)
Me: 0 catch