Chew Valley booking system slammed

Bosses at the UK’s best big pike water have slammed claims that tickets for the venue’s annual predator fishing trials are allocated unfairly.

For nine weeks every year, Chew Valley Lake in Somerset attracts anglers from all over the country who make the pilgrimage in search of the 1,200-acre venue’s legendary stocks of big pike to over 40lb.

In order to fish, anglers must first apply for tickets in advance, a process which is vastly oversubscribed each season. And, following the 2011 allocation several weeks ago, a number of disgruntled anglers who missed out have used internet forums to claim that favouritism is shown to some Chew regulars every time the grab for tickets comes up. Angling Times has also received calls from pikers who have lost out.

One such caller, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It seems to be the same people, sitting at the same tables having breakfast in the Woodford Lodge every morning. I applied for a dozen dates this year and got nothing.

“Last year I got one date from 20 that I asked for. Yet I’ve heard that there are a couple of individuals who have got upwards of 20 dates out of the 60-odd available. The process is certainly not as democratic as the management would have you believe. It’s a stich up.”

These claims have been dismissed by Bob Handford, fisheries and recreation manager at Chew. He said: “We’ve had more than 850 applications this year and, as usual, everybody’s name was put in a draw.

“We try to allocate a place for everyone, but this year there were about 20 anglers who didn’t get anything. However, most have two dates and we try to give consecutive days for anyone who’s coming more than 100 miles. But it’s not easy – most are happy, but of course there are always some who are not!”

Big-fish all-rounder Paul Garner has fished Chew in the past and also believes it is simply a case of sour grapes.

“I’ve only ever got one or two dates a year, and so have mates who have applied,” he said.

“You put your name into the hat and take your chance – it’s a fair process and I can’t help but think that those complaining have just been unlucky.”