The annual predator fishing trials on the nation’s trout reservoirs are now in full swing, with Chew Valley Lake and Blithfield Reservoir leading the catch returns as many other venues reported ‘patchy’ sport.
A combination of low water levels, algal blooms and unsettled weather has been to blame for the relatively slow start at a number of waters, although the onset of prolonged colder temperatures is expected to see the action pick up.
Anglers at Chew Valley in Somerset have accounted for six thirties to a best of 32lb 6oz, along with almost 50 twenties including bank-caught fish to 26lb 12oz. However, according to fisheries manager Bob Handford, even this impressive tally is well below the norm.
“Sport has been steady, rather than fantastic, and definitely a little down on previous years, with most of the fish coming to lures and Replicants, rather than deadbaits. The water levels are as low as at any point since we began the pike trials a decade ago, and so a lot of the normally productive areas have not produced. The fish seem well spread out and many anglers have been reporting big pike following their lures, before turning away. I’m sure it will switch on properly sooner or later.”
Well-known big fish angler Gary Knowles helps run the limited predator trials on Staffordshire’s Blithfield Reservoir. Just four weekends of pike fishing are allowed each year, the first of which has just taken place.
“There have been lots of fish caught, including quite a few twenties to 26lb. Gordy Howes and Paul Garner had four twenties in an afternoon as part of a 14-fish catch, and I had 11 fish in a day to 21lb, backed up by a lot of mid to high doubles. The best tactic has been to stay mobile because the fish seem localised and once you drop on them the takes are coming thick and fast,” said Gary.
Meanwhile, sport at the Anglian Water-owned quartet of reservoirs – Rutland Water, Grafham Water, Pitsford Water and Ravensthorpe Reservoir – has been mixed. A couple of 20lb-plus fish have been taken from Rutland, while over at Ravensthorpe an algal bloom has stifled catches.
One of the best fish of the week came from Grafham Water, where Cambridgeshire angler Jonathan Sturt needed just two casts to hook into a new pb pike weighing 27lb 8oz. An 8ins Fox Replicant lure proved the winning bait for the 37-year-old, who explained:
“I’ve fished Grafham for years and this is the biggest fish I’ve ever had out of here. However, me and my fishing partner James, have had fish that must’ve been over 40lb follow lures to the boat before.”