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.
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”
“You`re kidding me!?”
“Deadly serious – Jamie’s just weighed it!”
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?!!!