This year we were lucky enough to be able to join Martin Bowler and Steve Rowley on the banks of Chew Valley Lake on its opening day for pike fishing.
Chew Valley Lake is well renowned for its scenic beauty and top quality pike fishing, with fish caught in excess of 40lb each season, which makes it every pike angler’s dream venue. It’s an impressive reservoir with an average depth of 14ft and a maximum depth of 37ft.
On arrival, we were greeted with gale-force winds with gusts of up to 40mph. They both knew that presenting a bait at any distance would be a real challenge. Both Martin and Steve began by trying to cast their deadbaits out but were only reaching 30 yards due to the strong winds pushing directly into their bank.
A decision was made and Martin decided to risk it all and use his bait boat, which would hopefully allow them to get their hook baits into 10ft of water around 60 yards out. This is a successful depth that they both look for at this time of the year when pike fishing at Chew. With the plan to use a bait boat a success and all dead baits in place, they sat back and awaited the first bite.
Within minutes of placing the final rod on the rest, Martin’s indicator dropped back and braid began to peel off the reel. With the fish steadily taking line Martin wound down and gave a firm strike with his E-Sox Piker Bait Rod to set the hooks, the rod hooped over and the battle commenced. The fish initially made a run to the left, towards Steve’s swim, but applying steady pressure and keeping the rod low the fish soon turned and made it’s way back across the swim, edging closer to the waiting landing net. When the fish finally glided over the net there was a huge sigh of relief for both. Steve stared down into the folds of the net and shouted, “It’s a thirty!”
The pair lifted the scales and the needle flew past 30lb with ease, settling on 34lb 12oz! A true giant, the reason many pike anglers flock to the banks of Chew every year to be in with a chance of landing one of the real monsters that reside within the lake. With a new personal best from Chew for Martin, he was lost for words, completely captured in the moment.
Lee Klimczuk and Chris Vandervleit were in match winning form at the weekend. The former Essex County team mates both managed to win their respective winter leagues with quality bags of silverfish.
Chris Vandervleit (left) and Lee Klimczuk.
Lee was on the Meadowlands Silverfish League near Coventry and won the match with a bag of roach and skimmers on Warren Pool. After a slow start he chose to attack the swim quite heavily with loose fed casters and it paid off handsomely in the shape of a 19lb winning catch.
“I had a really slow start with Darren Cox and Darren Davies catching really well either side of me from the start,” Lee explained. “They both had over 6lb after two hours while I had a pound or so! I thought it could have perhaps been a carp in my swim. I just kept my head and stuck with it and eventually the roach turned up with five or six skimmers mixed in.
“All the fish were caught with loose fed casters on the long pole. I fished a size 20 Silverfish Match and a 0.07mm bottom with 0.1g and 0.2g AS3 floats. The most important thing was to work out where the fish were in the tow, which was changing all the time.”
Chris Vandervleit was fishing much further south at Lake John fishery in Essex and made no mistakes off fancied Peg 13 to win the latest Drennan-backed Winter League.
“I decided to fish a waggler at 25 metres and the ‘tea bag’ two metres off the island,” he explained. “On the waggler line in open water I loose fed Bait-Tech 4mm expander pellets with a 4mm or 6mm on the hook. For the island swim, my PVA ‘tea bags’ were filled with 2mm pellets with a banded 6mm on the hook.
“The first hour was spent on the tea bag and I caught five skimmers for about 10lb. The next four enjoyable hours were spent on the waggler, nicking odd skimmers and bream to win the match with 28lb, just beating waggler expert Michael Scanlan by 8oz.
Interestingly, this lake was also visited by the Drennan Team England squad while they were in the country practicing for the World Championship. The accompanying picture shows Team England stars (from left) Sean Ashby, Callum Dicks, William Raison and Des Shipp with Dora’s friend, Dragutin (second left).
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Jon Arthur won Round 8 of the Packington Winter League yesterday with over 100lb of carp and F1s.
Fifty-five anglers lined the banks of Packington Fisheries and over 60lb was needed to frame. Jon made the most of a bit of room on Peg 15 on Little Gearys and after a fruitless first cast with popped-up bread he opted for an all-out maggot attack.
Switching to a mini Vari-Weight Feeder loaded with maggots and double maggot on a size 16 Carp Maggot hook, he soon had a bonus 8lb common carp for a great start. Regularly casting just short of the central island at 25 metres then brought a steady string of F1s to 2lb.
When bites slowed he switched to the pole, again with maggots, and caught at seven and 13 metres before finally getting a few fish down the edge. Jon used 0.14mm Supplex main line to a 0.09mm Supplex hooklength and a size 20 Silverfish Maggot hook. His floats were all 0.1g to 0.3g Drennan prototypes he has been field-testing, and these should hopefully be launched later this year.
After five busy hours his two nets tallied 109lb 1oz, with Dave Elliott 2nd with 80lb exactly and Keith Winn taking 3rd with 66lb 13oz.
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Drennan’s Ryan Hayden decided to make the most of the good conditions on the Great Ouse and made the trip over after work for a short three-hour session.
Arriving at the venue just after 6 pm Ryan made his way down to his first swim. But without a single tap after an hour, he decided to make a move further downstream. Within two minutes after recasting tight up to the snag, he received a single tap, closely followed by another, and then bang, the rod hooped around. After a spirited fight, she slid over the net.
“An immaculate fish with not a scale out of place, which is rare nowadays, and at 6lb 2oz, definitely one to look out for in the future.”
Lewis Richards took the opportunity to fish a section of his local river for chub one afternoon and was rewarded with a fish just short of his personal best.
Arriving at the river early afternoon, he was pleased to see it was back within the banks, although still quite coloured from the recent rainfall. Lewis made his way down to his favourite swim and setup with a small 20g Gripmesh Feeder on a simple running rig with a size 6 Super Specialist hook. For bait, he used bread, liquidised to press into the feeder and a pinch of flake for the hookbait.
To his surprise, less than a minute after casting out into the swim his tip bounced around and he was playing a decent chub. After a spirited fight, Lewis slid the net under what looked like a very nice chub. The scales swung around to 5lb 8oz, just two ounces off his current personal best.
Dutch angler, Hans Moolenaar continues to catch even more impressive pike, this time from a large Stillwater with depths of up to 70ft!
25lb 5oz Dutch pike
Now that the cold weather has finally arrived, Hans has been targeting a series of much deeper waters. This particular lake drops off to a staggering 30ft just shy of 50 yards out, it’s on this dropoff that He has been presenting his deadbaits.
“I have fished two, short morning sessions over the past week, resulting in five runs and four landed fish. All of them hit the magic mark of one metre, three of them even reached 110cm. Although not completely full, the pike have started to gain weight, feeding up on large shoals of silverfish. The biggest three went 25lb 5oz, 26lb 5oz and 23lb exactly.”
Mild weather meant the tench put in an appearance for Round 3 of the Stanjay Winter League on the Old River Nene at Benwick.
Runaway leader on the day was Tony Hobbs, who managed seven good tench in his 23lb winning bag! The Drennan Oxford team man was pegged close to the farm and caught them all down the track on the pole.
“I fed a small amount of chopped worm with caster and a few red maggots after every fish,” he explained. “Once I caught one I’d then rest it for 20 minutes while I fished for bits. I had a few on dendras but most of them were on three redworms.”
Tony used a 0.12mm Supplex hooklength to a size 14 Kamasan B560 hook and green 6–8 Carp Bungee elastic.
Drennan Oxford men filled the top three places on the day, as Gary Barclay was 2nd with 14lb 3oz and Ian Young was 3rd with 12lb 4oz.