Who am I?

My photo
An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to the see the natural world as a place for competition, that was until Covid-19 intervened!. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

What's wrong with Chew?

Let's get this straight, right from the off, there is nothing wrong with anglers who wish to fish for the pike, trout, or any other species, in Chew or any other similar venue. These following thoughts are my personal opinions, not criticism of the individual choices of others. In my past, I would have been at the front of the queue for tickets when such an opportunity arose - today the desire has moved on. I am no less intent on the mission, yet my direction has somewhat changed. Biggest no longer means the best; I am now in pursuit of very different experiences. It is this single factor that shapes my thoughts on the pike that are inhabitants of the waters of Chew Valley Lake (and similar venues)
Big pike are magnificent creatures, there is no doubt about it? That they grow to such size is the attraction for the majority of us who pursue them yet, for me, it is where I seek my challenges, not how big are the fish, that is just as important.

My rather dog eared copy of Fred Buller's masterpiece. Within the pages of this book are
the tales which inspired me as I started on my pike angling journey.
I will lay my cards on the table here and now; in my eyes Tommy Morgan's 47 lbs 11 oz pike is the UK record. I don't give a toss for the statistic on the "Official List"  Tommy's pike was caught from Loch Lomond - weighed on accurate "Fishmonger's" scales and is the heaviest authenticated pike ever landed on rod and line in the UK - end of! Until a fish in excess of this weight is landed, Tommy is king kiddie! It was the tale of this fish and "The Endrick Head" - Dick Walker estimated 70lbs! - which fired my imagination and captured the very essence of what pike angling is all about. You can read all about these two pike, and so many more, in the magnificent "Doomsday Book of Mammoth Pike" - by Fred Buller (ISBN - 0-09-136170-2)  Wild pike, from wild places, and they don't get much wilder than the Scottish Lochs! I've heard all the arguments about it being taken on a rod lashed to a tree on an island whilst Tommy and a mate were in a boat, nearby, catching perch - it constitutes a dead rod? What, just like the rods cradled on their treble pods, electric bite alarms radio linked to a speaker in a bivvy whilst the angler is sleeping - where's the difference?
So back to the pike of Chew Valley and why they don't fit with my angling expectations. Firstly I don't like the place - my problem, and mine alone, it's surrounded by some stunning countryside and has first class amenities available on the banks. The sprawling, ugly, sailing club compound and unsightly trout cages floating out in front of the main access point are just the start of it. The shore line lacks soul, the whole venue is so man-made, it feels plastic? It's obviously a very personal thing, I could say much the same about Wilstone Res - yet that venue is still my favourite place on earth! So there's more than a hint of hypocrisy involved in my present stance. Sadly, however, I can't see the huge pike as anything more than a reflection of the rest of the place - they are man-made, plastic specimens. When they run out of dead trout, Bristol Water pours a whole load of new ones in!
My apologies to the angler and the photographer - I don't know either.
A simply stunning pike, held by a very happy angler, at Chew Valley Lake.
Magnificent, impressive and as many other superlatives that you wish to choose - it still doesn't work for me.
It was a talk by Ken Crow, at the Canterbury & Thanet PAC, that explained this situation. Ken is the manager at Bough Beech and a Fishery Scientist with many years experience in the field - including the Irish Loughs. He explained that one in three trout released into the modern still-water fisheries, died within a few weeks - due to starvation, they don't know how to feed themselves once the pellets stop being thrown into the pens. Therefore, dead trout play a major role in the production of the massive pike that forage in these conditions. They are overweight and un-fit, for want of a better description. Doesn't stop them looking bloody fantastic when cradled in an anglers arms but, for me, they are far removed from the fish that inspired my own quest - and I have to chase my dreams elsewhere. Of course I would love to catch a pike which would have graced the pages of Fred's book, one in excess of 35 lbs, but if I'm to do this it will be from a naturally stocked water where it has managed to attain this size without man's intervention. It will represent the pinnacle of a very well balanced eco-system - not be a by-product of moaning trout anglers whose catch returns have taken a nose dive. "Get more fish stocked, we can't catch those which have become a bit cute!"

Chew Valley dawn - it actually looks quite spectacular

Chew might occasionally look good - Loch Awe always does so.
OK; I realise that my opinions are rather simplistic and the reality of catching pike in Chew, or anywhere else, for that matter, involves dedication and skill which has taken time to develop and nurture.
Bottom line is each to their own - my opinions and my journey, will it eventually lead me to a meeting with that "Doomsday" pike? I'll only find out by keep trying. There's an awful lot going on in my little world, at present, yet 2016 could see things change quite dramatically. So whilst I have no desire to wish my life away - future prospects are exciting.

Young Mr Bradbury with a magnificent wild pike from Loch Awe
This fish is probably the same length as that Chew specimen, but weighs less than half as much?
How can that be? Well this fish actually has to work for a living!
It's what a healthy pike looks like.


  1. Dylan,

    It seems a continuous point at present as the "Ticketing System" may be reviewed, as others are debating elsewhere on perceived favouritism for some anglers gaining access to Chew. A mate asked me last week when we fished together "If we can get on, do you fancy it as I would love a day" I declined, I'm happy being lost on a river. My PB is still 15.8lbs, would love to beat it.

    But on my terms, away from nearly every other angler. I'll not judge those who fish Chew, each to their own. No it's not for me after speaking to others who have fished it, in short it would do my brain in, I reckon.

    Be Lucky '-0

    1. Monty,
      Cheers for taking the time to comment; it would seem that we sing from the same hymn sheet? As for perceived favouritism - smacks of jealousy in my view? A powerful poison and one that can create massive divisions between individuals and/or groups. Thus, as you infer, I'm also very happy to do it my way - or not at all.
      Tight lines and keep blogging - Dylan