On Tuesday April 29th 2014 I had the privilege to participate in the British Lure Angling Championshp Qualifier at Chew. I had heard a lot about this place from other lure anglers and read a lot about it too. If you have not heard about the Chew Valley let me tell you about it briefly.
Chew Valley is a renowned trout fishery in Bristol but more importantly it has a reputation for producing some really large hard fighting pike and the expectation is the next British record will come out of here. Why ? well It is a combination of things I think great fishery management and fantastic conditions which are conducive to the growth of pike. Ok, so why is lure fishing for pike on chew so good ? Well the shear amount of fishable water you can go at has to be the main reason from me, on most waters that I have fished in the UK there are certain well known areas that hold the populations of pike which account for approximately 5-10% of that total body of water and locating and catching pike outside of these areas can be very challenging. The difference with Chew is for a good 60-70% of the water you stand a very good chance of locating and luring a big pike as there is a huge area of water that has a depth range between 6-15ft and a very flat lake bed. Giving the pike more area to spread out over and not hold in areas where there is more structure. Obviously the pike do also have a good stock of fast food in the trout population and there is a limited window each year in which you can actually target pike on the lure, giving them all the opportunity to stay healthy and grow. It is just a fantastic water to lure fish for pike bottom line and holding the British Lure Angling Championship qualifier at Chew gave 68 anglers a really great opportunity to catch a PB.
To save time on the day our boat parnters were randomly selected beforehand and I was paired with Gzregoz Pawlek or Greg for short. On the morning of the British Lure Angling Championship qualifier at Chew I needed to wake up really early to make the 2hr45min journey across to Bristol to ensure that I would not get stuck in the early morning traffic because I left so early I had a couple of hours to burn before the competition started, I used this time to survey the water have a cup of coffee and send a few emails for work.
Once everyone had arrived and had a bite to eat Julian Chidgey gave a welcome speech and ran through some of the rules for the day. We were then allowed to load up our boats and wait for the claxon to sound before we could make our way to our first spots. Once the claxon had sounded we headed off and Greg and I agreed that we needed to go towards the Roman shallows to the right hand side of Woodford lodge and the boat dock. I had researched as much as I could before the qualifier I looked at reports where there had been good catches recently and even looked as far back as two years. From what I had seen the majority of good fish were taken out in the areas of Wick Green Point, Stratford Bay and Moreton. If needed a secondary area would be Villice Bay as there was reports of good catches around this area too. We were not the only ones with that idea as it seemed the majority of the other boats were headed in the same direction as us. As we arrived in the general area of Stratford bay we squeezed in between a couple of other boats and set the boat up to drift towards the bank.
What was a really pleasant surprise for me on the day was how the trout were attacking my lures anything that had a little bit of shine on it the trout were having a go and the first two fish of the day were large hard fighting rainbow trout one each both Greg and I let the fish unhook themselves so that we would not need to handle them in anyway. Letting the fish unhook themselves was easy as one of the major rules on Chew is you are not allowed to use barbed hooks. These two trout were lured by large spoons worked about 2-3 foot below the surface.
After about an hour of casting with nothing we moved the boat further into the body of water and took a longer drift over and area where my Hummingbird was picking up lots of activity. Sure enough Greg hooked into the first of his pike for the day and his smallest one, using a 15-18cm shad in a blue and white pattern. I am guessing Greg was fishing this in about 8ft of water as we were in 15ft of water at the time.
We drifted over this same spot a couple of times with no luck and needed to make a move as by now we had burned up another 1hr30min. I moved us towards Wick Green point to an area where I picked up a lot of activity on the Hummingbird and the trout were topping all around us, the depth ranged from 10-12ft and we started to drift about 50 yards off the bank. Within 30 mins of arriving Greg had hooked into something big as I heard line screening off his reel, at first Greg thought it was a large trout. This was not the case as I scooped up a lovely 17lb 90cm+ donkey into the boat. After a few photos we released the fish in good condition and discussed how the fish was caught. Greg explained to me that he was working his gold spoon about a foot below the surface and at speed. Greg also explained how he had built this spoon himself and showed me his handy work. I have to say I would be very pleased with a 17lber on a lure I made myself and to catch this fish on a home made lure in the British Lure Angling Championship qualifier at Chew an even bigger bonus.
I knew we were in a good area 12 ft of water and lots of activity on the Hummingbird as well as trout topping all around us so I moved the boat to drift over the same spot, within another 15mins Greg was into another heavy fish as I heard line screening off his reel. This fish put up an impressive fight and had to be bigger than the first one, and so it was a beautiful 19lber lay in the bottom of the net as I shook Greg’s hand to congratulate him on a great fish. This time he caught this on the same shad he used to catch his first pike on. Soon after taking a few pictures and safely releasing the fish we had a moment of humour as I struck into what I thought was a pike…. there was a loud crack and in a flash I was left standing there with reel and rod handle in my hands with no rod. I had actually hit a snag and with all the excitement of landing Greg’s two big fish my adrenaline made me strike and any hint of a bite, unfortunately the snag did not give may and my favourite old spinning rod was now in two. I laughed out loud as Greg for a moment believed I had hooked into a big fish, I am sure I heard a few of the other boats having a laugh too.
Once all this excitement had passed it was soon time to head back in and get the results for the day. I had not had a great day with luring the pike but had a lot of follows from big fish right up to the boat which is a really good sign and has left a lasting impression on me. Greg on the other hand was again on the podium having won the second British Lure Angling Championship on the Kennet and Avon canal I think Greg came in third or forth for Chew. Well done Greg you are fast becoming a star of the BLAC tour and certainly did do a great job for at the British Lure Angling Championship qualifier at Chew.
A special mention must go to Julian Chidgey and Fox for putting this tour together in my opinion it is what the sport of lure fishing needs here in the UK, a serious competition with serious prizes that gets more people involved from around the country. Well done guys and keep it up I look forward to fishing in more of these British Lure Angling Championship qualifiers and hopefully ensuring I gain my own berth at the finals later in the year.
Finally If you have not had the opportunity to lure fish at Chew I would recommend you make every effort too. It is a fantastic water with lots of fish so when those phone lines open for the pike fishing days in 2015 you can be sure I will be phoning in to book my days.