Persistence pays on Chew (Part II)

You may remember that last year at about this time four of us had a two-day stint at Chew Valley Lake, trying our luck fly fishing for pike. The result was just two fish between us, but remarkably the one I caught – at 5.45pm on the second day – was an immaculate 30-pounder, fully justifying my “Lucky Green” image.

Well, I have just returned from my second trip there this year (the first, about a month ago, was aborted, as the pike were spawning) and I can report that, despite what I would consider to be perfect conditions, once more the fishing was desperately hard.

The team this time consisted of three regulars – namely Jamie, Ryan and myself – and Russell Cowell, who resides on the Isle of Man (where there are no pike!). The four of us had fished for striped bass together at Cape Cod a few years ago. Although we kept in touch, I hadn’t actually met up with Russell since. He’s a nice lad, a very good fly-fisher and a pike virgin, but I told him I was pretty confident that we would change that situation fairly smartly!

As Jamie and I had visited the reservoir many times, Jamie partnered Ryan for Day One and I fished with Russell. Motoring out, the water looked good and I felt sure that we would do well, but after two long drifts in a favoured area, to my surprise neither boat had touched anything – slightly worrying!

To cut a long story short, the fishing proved to be ‘rock hard’, with only four small fish being boated, three of which carried some nasty-looking spawning scars (…at the end of May!!). Fortunately, young Russell had caught three of them on a ‘Jamie’s Jonah’ fly I had given him to try (the same pattern I had my 40-pounder on three years ago), so there was some celebrating to be attended to regardless of the conditions! After four or five pints of Thatchers Gold cider and a nice curry, Jamie and I retired, leaving the other two still enjoying the evening.

Russell Cowell Small Pike from Chew

Spirits were not quite so high the next morning, especially for poor Russell, who just stared at his big fry-up with slightly glazed eyes, unable to face it. What a shame – it was delicious!

After breakfast it was back to the lake. I teamed up with Jamie this time, although we knew we were in for another tough day. And so it proved – with me managing my only fish of the trip just before lunchtime – again a badly scarred 5-pounder.

In view of the poor results I took the opportunity to drive to nearby Clevedon and join my father (now 96!) for lunch, leaving Jamie to soldier on alone. Before I arrived there was a text message informing me that he had caught a six pounder in good order, so there was still hope.

At the end of a very pleasant lunch there came a call from Ryan:

“Anything happening ?” I enquired.

“Russell`s had one”

“Any size?”


“You`re kidding me!?”

“Deadly serious – Jamie’s just weighed it!”


Russell Cowell 39lb pike

I met three grinning anglers at the jetty 40 minutes later and marvelled at the pics on Russ’s camera – what a result! The lad had flown over from Douglas on the Isle of Mann, hired a car at Liverpool, driven the four hours to Chew Valley, started the day with a hangover and ended it with a near 40-pound pike. 24 hours earlier he had NEVER caught one! You couldn’t have written the script!!

Jamie and I fished on for the afternoon without a touch of any sort, despite both using the ‘Jonah’ magic pattern – but no surprises there. It’s just another case of being there in the right place at the right time – but where else could it happen but Chew?!!!

Mike Green About Mike Green

Although a bit of a pike fanatic, Mike Green has been fishing in the UK and abroad for most of his life, catching coarse, sea and game fish in the UK, Canada, Alaska, New Zealand, Asia and Americas.