E-Sox Consultant Steve Rowley has become addicted to pike fishing from his kayak, and his burning ambition this winter was to catch his first ever kayak thirty pounder.
31lb 12oz pike caught from the kayak
Steve caught a 27lb 02oz earlier in the season from the kayak but was soon surpassed by his lovely 29lb 08oz that we covered a few weeks ago. Then right at the end of the season, Steve had a real red letter day, catching a 25lb 04oz, 26lb 14oz and his first ever kayak thirty at 31lb 12oz on the same afternoon.
“To catch three fish over twenty-five pounds in a day is something very special, but to catch them on my kayak is an unbelievable bonus. I knew the second the thirty went in the net that I had achieved my main goal of the season” said Steve.
Steve anchored his Channel Kayak Pro over sixteen foot of water just past an area he had seen lots of small fish activity previously and it wasn’t long after casting out the first fish of the day made it’s way to the net.
“I caught a few smaller perch, and a couple of small pike before the big fish hit. What I found really interesting was, if I didn’t get a hit on the first few turns of the reel handle after the cast, I wouldn’t get a hit at all.”
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.
Steve Rowley recollects a ‘red letter day’ that will be permanently etched in his memory forever.
Steve Rowley with his 31lb 5oz gravel pit pike.
I had decided late the previous evening that I was going to do a short morning session on a gravel pit that I had rarely fished before. The pit had never really hit the mark for me. I always end up concentrating on other waters which is partly why I decided to dedicate a small piece of my time to give this water a go.
I set off just before first light and arrived by a glorious misty sunrise, with not a single ripple on the water. I stood for a few minutes working out what areas to target. Conditions were not looking great for pike fishing. Flat calm, misty, with a high-pressure, not really ideal, but I only anticipated fishing until midday, so I had nothing to lose.
I didn’t know much about this particular pit, but having done a bit of lure fishing some years earlier, I was aware that there was a deeper channel running along the far bank, a typical drainage channel used to pump the water out when the gravel was being extracted. I decided to fish two dead baits alongside the weed raft that had built up on the inside of the deeper channel, the theory being that pike might either be patrolling along the channel or were tucked under the weed rafts waiting for the abundance of roach or rudd to venture past.
A misty sunrise on the pit.
I took a few photos of the glorious misty sunrise, and then sat back to relax and have my first cuppa. Only an hour later, one of my drop-offs fell against my backrest. To say I was shocked was an understatement, as I fully expected to pull into a feisty little jack as I wound down. I was only fishing with small horse mackerel, so I knew I was in with a chance of a good hook hold, but I was greeted with an energetic first run, and my powerful E-Sox Piker rod curled over beautifully, cushioning every shake of his head.