I had an invite to Join a long term fishing friend at Pike Fishing Mecca Chew Valley Lake and whilst I find the hike in prices since fishing began there a little disconcerting I was not about to turn down the offer. I always relish a trip to Chew Valley for it is Lake where you know that next cast could bring the fish of a lifetime. And it had done just that for several anglers already during the first few days of the trial with one fish boated at 39lb 14oz.
Bruce Elston and I arrived at the lodge and started the day with a hearty full English whilst we caught up on old times and chatted on the prospects for the day ahead. The Lake was mirror calm beneath a blue winter sky.
We loaded our gear into boat and I noted the frosty gunnels and icy seats.
We were one of last boats to leave the jetty not because we were less keen it was just that I believe we wanted to savour the day and not rush around.
Its strange but there is something daunting about the size of Chew Valley Lake. The huge pike that dwell within are what dreams are made of yet finding them can be a challenge. As a sea angler used to fishing in vast areas of water you would think this lake fishing would seem easy for you know the fish are there. The problem is that the pike have seen it all before and they do not need to feed every day.
We set out onto the lake and headed for an area we thought might produce; trolling a couple of lures slowly in the hope of tempting a lurking monster. It was great to drop the anchor and launch our baits out. The crimson topped floats settled optimistically upon the calm lake and we poured a coffee and took in the surroundings.
It was great to chat with Bruce about pike fishing and past times. Our paths have crossed over the years and we have fished many waters. It was over thirty years ago that I first met up with Bruce and the Somerset pike fishers on the banks of Durleigh Reservoir and on the Somerset Levels. Reminiscing about those piking days made me determined to pay more attention to Esox for I realise that they are still one of my favourite fish.
The day like all fishing days drifted past all too quickly. We cast lures, trolled dead baits and fished static baits trying areas that we knew had produced in the past. As the light began to fade the lakes surface resembled a giant mirror reflecting the sky. The cry of gulls drifted across the water and airline vapor trails patterned the evening sky.
Right up until the last cast of the day we both believed it could happen that float could bob and then disappear beneath the surface in a sublime moment. It could be a jack of a few pounds or mammoth pike that fills a fishers dreams.
Back at the jetty at close of play we heard that there had been five pike caught of over thirty pounds along with several twenties. These are the fish that will grace to pages of the angling papers. The blank days will not feature and many will be tempted to the lake in search of dreams. I will be back and one day that fish of dreams will grace my net. It will not make me a better angler. Can success be measured in pounds and ounces, the true joy is in the chase and most successful angler is the one who enjoyed his day. It was indeed a glorious blank.