Two of the country’s most prolific pike venues have cemented their form for big predators this week after producing a number of huge fish including the biggest pike landed this year.
Somerset’s Chew Valley Lake and Blithfield Reservoir in Staffordshire are trout waters renowned for their big pike, and as the temperatures started to rise the residents switched on, resulting in fish of 28lb, 30lb, 34lb and a best of over 38lb.
Weighing in at 38lb 2oz, the biggest was caught from Chew by former PAC president Phil Wakeford. But it was a capture that nearly never was, with Phil admitting to a mix of “luck and fate”.
Originally booked to fish from one of the reservoir’s boats, Phil was close to going home after high winds resulted in none of the boats being allowed out. But luckily, having also packed his bank tackle, the predator hunter - who has captured nine career pike over 30lb ¬ changed his mind. It was a decision that saw him beat his personal best for the species by almost a pound.
“I didn’t start fishing until 11am”, Phil told AT, “then I found the water in front of me was really shallow. The wind eased off near midday, so I got out my bait boat and managed to reach deeper water at around 100 yards out.” With Phil’s whole mackerel deadbait presented hard on the bottom with size 4 Owner trebles to 30lb wire, it was just half-an-hour before he was bent into the fish.
“I could tell it was a good fish from the start; it was a dogged fight, especially for such a fat pike,” said Phil. “It was a very short fish at 44ins, but with a massive 27ins girth and I’m certain there’s a considerably bigger pike in the venue that’s just as fat but longer.” Another Chew monster came in the form of a 34lb specimen for Southampton’s Roger Pitman. The fish smashed his pb by 7lb, and fell for popped-up mackerel fillet fished in 14 feet of water, before providing Roger with a heart-stopping 15-minute battle.
“We got her on to the unhooking mat and my friend said ‘I think she is’, I smiled and replied ‘so do I’, but neither of us could actually say the word ’thirty’. We watched the needle fly past the magical 30 barrier then rest bang on 34lb” recounted an overjoyed Roger.
Also producing large pike this week was Blithfield Reservoir, Staffordshire.
Open for its first pike fishing dates of the year, the large trout water gave in-form specimen hunter Paul Garner a 28lb fish, but only after the Nash Peg One consultant had faced disaster.
“I was slow trolling but managed to snap a foot off my heavy lure rod,” Paul told AT.
“I was forced to switch to my jigging set-up and fished a 6ins shad on a 28g jig head. The big girl took the lure on my last cast of the day and put up a tremendous scrap.” The fish completes a triple of big trout reservoir pike caught by Paul this winter, including a 31lb fish from Chew and a 27lb specimen from Grafham.
Along with Paul, lure ace Dave Kelbrick also experienced a day of ups and downs at the venue, when, after losing a fish estimated to weigh around 28lb at the net, he went on to catch a specimen of 30lb 3oz.
Dave was fishing a 6ins Replicant lure in about eight feet of water when he took the large predator.
Not to be outdone by the trout reservoirs, Norfolk’s River Yare showed that running water shouldn’t be overlooked for large pike, giving predator fanatic Darren Debbage a specimen of 30lb 14oz. Darren has been fishing up to five times a week every winter for the last eight years to try and catch a predator over 30lb and he finally achieved his goal during a session on his local waterway.
The Norfolk man’s chance came after finding a deeper stretch of the river. Presenting a sardine beneath a float, Darren had only been fishing for 40 minutes when the fish struck.