The winter pike fishing trials at Chew Valley Lake finished with a bang last week when Steve Marshall banked this 37lb giant from the prolific Somerset venue.
The huge predator, which beat the 42-year-old’s previous personal best by just under 2lb, fell to a floatfished smelt and was part of a five-fish catch made over two days with boat partner Andy Buldock, who weighed in with a stunning 28lb 12oz pike of his own on a mackerel deadbait.
Publicity-shy Steve is no stranger to big fish, having caught 10 pike over the 30lb barrier from various venues prior to his latest heavyweight, which was taken towards the end of a day littered with snow and sleet showers.
He said: “We moved swims quite a few times, because it tends to be the case that when you land on the fish, the bites come almost instantly.
“Sure enough, five minutes after we’d anchored up by Denny Island, not far from where Andy Buldock had his 28-pounder on the first day, my float went and I was in.”
After an unspectacular fight lasting just a couple of minutes, Steve, from Wellingborough, quickly weighed and photographed the fish, which he later recognised as the same pike taken in 2009 by Alan Buckingham a year ago at a weight of 38lb 8oz.
This time around it was tamed with the help of Power Pro braided mainline and size 4 Owner trebles attached to a 28lb Drennan wire trace.
Another angler sampling the delights of Chew Valley was Rich Wilby, who took a quick fire brace of big pike, topped by a 27lb 5oz new personal best.
The Nash Tackle media manager, from Brampton in Cambs, took the two fish just five minutes apart on his only two bites of the day.
“It just shows what a crazy place Chew is. I’ve fished eight of the trial days over the past three years, driving countless miles, with only a series of double-figure pike to 19lb to show for my efforts. Then in just five minutes’ fishing I hit the jackpot!” said Rich (31), whose other pike weighed 25lb 8oz.
The bigger of his brace fell to a floatfished sardine deadbait, with the other fish taking a smelt. Both were presented on size 6 trebles and home-made titanium wire traces.