Friday, 27 July 2012

Wild Welshies to Chew Fatties

In 1999 a mate of mine asked me if I fancied a day pike fishing and to be honest I was not overly keen about it as I had never been before, and at that time i was well into my carp fishing, anyhow I decided to take up his offer and have a day out with him on a local reservoir which was very low and crystal clear.
 I remember getting up early on a Saturday morning and meeting him at the venue, we decided on a swim to fish and he helped me to set up my rods with the appropriate gear as I did not have a clue regarding tackle or tactics. In actual fact I had never even seen a pike in the flesh before that day.

Both rods were set up, one with Launce and the other with mackerel and out they went,rods were put on rests and alarms set, and we sat there talking for an hour or two with nothing happening, i was itching to see my first pike but as a Carp angler i knew what the waiting game was all about, suddenly  my alarm came to life and “buzzing” I ran to the rod very excited with my mate standing beside me explaining what to do next!.on his instruction I wound down and struck into the fish which gave me a hell of a fight with a few good short bursts of power.I was amazed and quite literally shaking, eventually she hit the mesh of the net, and I have got to say I was quite frightened when I saw the size of the fish! My mate was even amazed as he had not seen a pike this big either, so we unhooked it and weighed her at 18.08. I could not believe it,after all it was only my first pike, from that day on my carp fishing went on the slow back burner.

My first Pike at 18lb8oz
and another at 19lb4oz

Deep in the heart of (some) Welsh mountains I continued my quest in pursuit of these fine predators which I had personally only recently discovered, this certain water was superb, producing some fine specemins for me and  I spent a lot of my time fishing this glacial water and really put some effort in with pre baiting and getting up at stupid o’clock on my days off to get to the lake before anyone could drop on my chosen spots. It paid off for me with lot’s of Queen’s to still my pb today of 26.10.

 A truly amazing fish that went on to weigh 30.12 a few months later when my mate caught her. A glacial 30,what a fish and what a dream it would be to actually catch one myself.

A few months before I caught my 26 I caught an absolute corker of a fish at 25lb,it was  just a shame that I had caught them at the wrong time of the year but I was happy, particularly now over a decade later,  as now looking back these fish were probably the biggest two in the water during that particular time, and catching them was still an excellent achievement in my books.

This water seemed to decline very quickly as after 2005  myself and my fellow fisherman  could not catch anything above 17lb  despite putting in lots of effort,  it was quite sad really as this water had thrown out 20’s with lots of 19’s and 18’s on a regular basis

During January 2009 the lake had just lost it’s lid and had a strong easterly wind blowing, I tried a few of the known hot spots with no success, I was realy scratching around for a run. Then on one trip I noticed a nice flat spot in the corner of the lake hidden from the days nasty breeze, i decided to up the anchor’s and try this area thinking that maybe the prey fish could be there hiding as it was bloody freezing elsewhere.  Anchors were dropped at the bottom of the slope in 23 ft of water,almost instantly I had a run on each rod resulting in a Jack and a 14lb pug, "happy was an understatement” as it was not the nicest day to be out. My mate Lewis Barry pulled alongside my boat and had a little chat, I told him I had just had two fish and was going to pull anchors up and move forward up the slope to 17ft where I had the two runs. He decided he was going to try a shallow area so before he moved off I said "I’ll give you a shout when I get a 20",he laughed and I was only taking the mickey any way. Rods were re-cast in each corner of the boat and i sat down for a coffee and a cigarette, Half an  hour or so later I noticed a float shoot under at an incredible speed. My first thought was Jack. I let the fish run a bit and wound down and hit it.”Snagged” i said to myself as it all felt solid, then it started kiting with super speed and unbelievable power giving me a right old merry dance.I thought this must be a serious  as my legs felt like jelly and were shaking like Elvis on the stage in Vegas,lol. 
The Pikes head came up and it looked huge, finally after a few more blistering runs she went into the net at the first attempt.
 I just stared at her in the net and was chuffed to bit’s as it had been a long time and a big effort to capture another fish of this calibre from this water. At 23.4 she was a superb specimen and probably gave me the finest fight I have ever had from a pike.

 I rang Lewis and asked him to come and take pics for me,he could not believe that I had caught  a 20 after saying I would have one(neither could I believe it).That was the last 20 I had from this special place and It gave me hope that maybe it was returning to it’s former glory, but after subsequently spending quite some time and effort it did not.It just became a  New Jack City.
Hopefully it will return to it’s former self one day.


What a water and such a nice place to fish,i have been fishing there for a few years now taking whatever days I can get(not many lol),i have had some nice fish from there including several 20’s to 25.12 and loads of 19’s "arrrghh".

 I took a mate out in a boat with me in November 2009,from the off we went straight into one of the bays for  the first hour,no success so we decided to move to a spot where myself and a mate had 2 20’s to 25 a week before. The boat was positioned,anchors dropped, and rods re-cast,an hour or so passed and my mates float slid away ,as he picked the rod up the float popped back up,gutted, "its dropped it" he said,I told him to give the float a twitch(this usually works for me if its sitting there)instantly the float started to twist and move about as if it were dancing,I said to him "that’s probably a big fish bud",he wound down hit it and it hit back in style and gave him quite a good run for his money, then she stuck her head out of the water about 2 rod lengths out, I said to my mate "it’s a 30 get it in the net quick",And a fine 30 it was too at 31.6 with a proper build,big head and all the characteristics of the fish from where I spent  a lot of time chasing “Wild Welshies”,i was really happy for him (honest).
I recently had the pleasure of netting another 2 of these magical girls,one to a very  close friend in January of this year,he had struggled on chew in the past whilst being on the boat with me but I always told him it will happen for him one day,it did and at 30.2,this was another mint fish,chew seems to be a magnificent water and a dream maker to many a people,for me I’m still chasing the dream.Be Lucky.
Here are a couple more Chew Fatties.

All the best


Thursday, 19 July 2012

Essex PAC Teach In

Now, when I spoke to the Angling Development Board (ADB) last year concerning the issue of how to get kids involved in pike fishing and interested in Essex PAC, I never for one second imagined I would be attempting to organise an event of this scale. The original idea was to get into schools around Essex and give a presentation on pike fishing. Whether that would be me on my day off or perhaps a retired PAC member who would give up a morning or three. I had spoke to Mark Brand (runs Essex chapter of the Lure Angling Society) and he had told me of many pitfalls involving taking kids fishing. With all the red tape involved, it seemed impossible to get a handful of kids together and pass on any expertise. So, I’d already decided that the way forward would be to get a presentation on pike fishing into as many classrooms in the county. I’d asked for volunteers in the region at a meeting one night and was greeted with just a lone, singular voice offering help and to be honest I thought this too was proving a bit of a non-starter. I felt a bit perplexed,I don’t like doing things unless they are done right, for starters. I wouldn’t be entertaining an idea unless it was an idea worth it’s salt, quite frankly and any efforts so far were looking lame.

So here we were, an RO feeling a bit miffed, halfway through a season. I’d already smashed my personal targets with regards to getting guest speakers along. We’d been entertained by Eddie Turner, Mick Brown and given Al Rawlings his first talk at a PAC meeting and flown over a true Euro legend in DietmarIsaiasch and we’d only just turned into the New Year. With John Watson still to turn up to Essex PAC and having held a couple of fairly successful fishmeets already, with a third still to come, I found my attention wavering back to the issue of presentation in schools. Always looking to give the carping fraternity a run for their money in Essex, I saw the talks in schools thing as a way of an introduction into piking. It was around this time, that I received a phone call out of the blue from Nick, my local rep from the ADB. I’d always liked Nick, he was a real do-er, in fact one of the ADB’s shining stars (or so he always told me!) though it’s no secret we probably clash.
Anyhow, this phone call went something like….”Sean, I’ve just got off the phone to Sport England and they’ve offered funding for eighty kids to go fishing. How would you like to take them all pike fishing? “
Well, knock me down with a feather, is this guy for real?...“I’d love to do that Nick” …I blurbed back at him, not really giving any thought at all about when?, how?, if it could be possible! Then he continued rabbiting on,“yeah, we need to provide two 3hr sessions, over two days, so the same 80 kids come back the day later and do it all again”… mind raced. Christ on a bike, how the hell are we going to do that I wondered.“Listen, Sean, the other phone is going, have a think buddy, speak soon”….HAVE A BLOODY THINK? We are into February 2012 now, we have no venue, or tackle, or baits or anyone to teach the kids! I’ll give him “have a think”! I needed coffee, quickly. And so it all started…..

Fri Dec 31st 2011 was a bad day. I’d just been made redundant for the first time in 20yrs. As you can imagine, New Yrs Eve didn’t exactly set the pulses racing, when normally I’d have been celebrating. I think I trudged upstairs with the wife at 11pm, just wanting to shut my eyes on the whole damn day. As luck would have it (and I do seem to walk headfirst into luck quite often) I was back in employment a week later and would you believe it, I was given a day off in the week too. As all you pike anglers are aware, that’s akin to winning the lottery!

Fast forward a month and a half and that phone call from Nick that left me sitting in my computer room, coffee in hand, I began thinking how we could crack an event like this. Firstly, the end of the season was nigh. Nick would need time to get 80 kids, we had just under two months left to complete our task. Knowing I’d need anglers desperately, I realised I’d struggle if pikers were trying their damndest to extract a lump right at the end of the season, so I had to come back a couple of weeks. So it HAD to be March 4/5th. And it had to be a weekend. I phoned Nick back and the wheels started turning as he cleared his diary. 3 and a half weeks away. His task was to get 80 kids along both days. Then I sat down and realised my tasks…we needed anglers to teach them, in the region of 40 per day !We needed prizes, well of course we needed prizes! We needed bait, so we needed a sponsor or three. But first, on my day off, Nick and I had to travel around and find a venue that was pretty stuffed with pike, have enough parking, ideally have catering on-site and if I’m dreaming, a pub and a hotel nearby!
Well, after spending most of the day racing around talking to various venues, we sat down and realised we had overlooked one venue in particular and it was right on our doorsteps. Within hours it was sorted.

By now the ball was certainly rolling and I decided to try our luck with prizes for the event, as donations from forums as our first point of call. The famous Pikers Pit saw the first thread come up and I wasn’t expecting too much to be honest. Well you don’t do you? But the response took me by surprise, I gotta say. I got thinking back to the PAC Convention and remembered Alan Dudhill from Pikemaster supplying all those kids with fantastic goody bags at the end of the teach-in at Kettering. Well he has to be worth a phone call eh, just in case he had some gear left over. Alan was fantastic, offering to get hold of 80 pairs of forceps sent to me (it turned out his supplier couldn’t cope with demand and I got 50 twin treble rigs, 20 coastlock snaps, 8 pairs headlamps and 45 forceps..awesome!)now we had an event sponsor alright! Still the donations came in from the forums, not least the PikersPit. I’d got invited to a day on Chew and received a great pm from“Dart Stew L;aws”offering to meet me on the bank with some prizes for the kids. That was nice of him. There were others. Many others sending me stuff to hand out. Nick at the last minute got Nash “onboard” and brought some great prizes along.Kev O’Keefe spent many hours making up 50 traces the day before the event. I had offers of cash sent to me, a knock on the door the Thursday before, saw a guy from my region turn up to apologise for not bringing any free tackle for the kids but would I take twenty quid off him? The mother-in-law was constantly at the Post Office picking up parcels!

With all this going on, I needed anglers quickly. Nick said the budget was gonna be real tight if we had to buy bait, pay for the venue, get hold of tackle etc. Don’t worry, I told him, I’ll sort it. What was I saying? Around this time I wondered if I had bitten off more than I could chew. I got on the blower and on the Pikers Pit again. One of the first to throw his hat in the ring was Dave Horton. Well that can’t be bad, the great man himself! Then I went through my little phone book (as an RO you end up with all sorts of mobile numbers) and before long we had Eddie Turner and Nick Peat, Steve Rowley and John Goble, the list was becoming like a who-who of pikers! John Currie, Norfolk RO offered to come down with some boys, a fantastic gesture and a big welcome I can tell you. Wow. Bill Palmer and his lad threw their hat in the ring along with many others inc lure aficionados Tony Myhilland Mark Brand and Ron Lagdon and Ray Pemberton. Then I pulled in half a dozen or so local PAC lads. And not one angler even questioned the fact that they had to use their own tackle, how lucky were we! Oh and Steve Davidson travelled all the way from the North-East, Ade Kisbey joined in the fun, it really was going to be exciting just seeing all these guys around the same water teaching kids! Still more names pledged a session or two, including HanningfieldFly-fisher’s very own Nigel Angus offering free demos. I managed to drive up to Baits Direct and persuade them to sponsor us with bait, now I really was riding my luck! We also had the full backing of the PAC committee right behind us, willing us on with a visit from Tim Kelly and John Synnuk. As I told Graham Slater (PAC Gen Sec), I intended printing off his best wishes and hanging it in my study!
And so the day came.
The first 3hr session on the Sat morning took us all by surprise. We had about 65 kids booked into the whole weekend, but that first session saw nearly 40 kids queueing up, crikey we had our work cut out as we marched half and half around both sides of the two lakes, trying to place them all with anglers. Then the wait.It was in the first half-hour that the first fish came out to a lad taught by (would you believe it?) Bill Palmer !
As the day wore on it emerged that Steve Rowley was in a hot swim indeed, but fish were being caught all over the lakes and many a young lad were seeing what it was like to catch a pike. Even though the biggest fish were scraper doubles, they are still impressive out of the water with all those teeth on view. Everyone was having so much fun, the sun shone intermittingly and the smiles on boy’s faces were matched with the hesitation with seeing pike on the mat!
Saturday drew to a close, the poor lad with the job of photographer looked shattered having been chasing around the lakes all day as fish met the arms of anglers.
Sunday arrived with a promise of a stinking forecast, we were expecting rain by the bucketload all day. A few fresh faces pepped the angler line-up and we saw dark skies and precipitation often in the air that morning. Now, the fish seemed definetlymore reluctant to snaffle a bait of any kind. This was going to be a tough day and so it proved. We soldiered on never the less, the morning session was actually very well attended again and the pm session too. It seemed there were too many kids who wanted to throw lures though, we needed more lure anglers all of a sudden! I’d got a couple of lads to change rigs and away we went. Luckliy the catch returns were slowing down, as by mid-day we were nearly out of bait. Then with an two hours or so left, it absolutely hammered, leaving the organisers holding on to our gazebos for dear life. Everything and everyone got a royal soaking and we evacuated the kids to the cafĂ© for prize-giving a little earlier than planned. Top rod was a teenager called Luke with the biggest catch of the weekend and he was presented with a lure rod and reel, which was quite apt, seeing as he continued to lure through the driving rain as though his life depended on catching pike!

We’d had a few dads thank us the day before, we’d given the anglers hot baguettes both days and we felt as though we’d looked after everyone. And indeed, we felt we cracked it. I mean, yes, we’d actually taken 65 kids pike fishing, for two days! They’d been taught pike welfare, handling, bite indication, how to work a lure, how to rig a lively, how to present a deadbait, what gear to use, Nick Peat had let on how to stay in stealth mode at a water, Ray Pemberton had a bloody hand while showing a couple of kids how not to unhook. We’d had a blast.
I totally recommend it, I’ve had a couple of cracking emails back from dads, saying how passionate the coaches were about their angling and how their kids were gonna get kitted out with the right gear for next season. Little did he know that those coaches are probably some of the most determined, finest pike anglers in the country ! A collection of pikers all fishing together for a cause and of the likes that will probably never be seen again in pike fishing memory with a rod in their hand, side by side.

So, get involved with your local Pike Anglers Club, it can be great fun, It’s been emotional, Essex and out.

Sean Ellis, Essex PAC RO

Essex Region PACGB RA 102

Monday, 9 July 2012

Love Affair

Jason Skilton

Nearly that magical 20lber (19lb 12oz)
There are lots of special times in my life for various reasons, whether it be the births of my nephew and niece, the death of my father and of course my wedding day. These are the dates which for special reasons are remembered, treasured and in some cases mourned.

In 1979, the vale in my village was flooded to make way for a 400 acre reservoir, and this was a day that was to start my long lasting love affair with fishing.

The first time I remember being interesting fishing was when a boy in the village hauled a 20lb+ pike in a wheel barrow, into the local school. This large pike, "he claimed" he had caught from the reservoir the day before, but the smell suggested otherwise.
This fish was in the eyes of a seven year old a colossal fish. With its mouth full of teeth and its sheer size, a sense of terror filled the shoes of the other kids in the school (wimps), but not me, it just filled me with awe and excitement.
Upon returning home, I searched in vain for the fishing rod and tackle my late father had kept in the loft. After some searching, I managed to find the gear and attempted to rig the rod up with the thick string like line from the spool and tie on one of the fluffy hooks to the end of the line.
With this in hand, off I trotted to the reservoir to hook me a monster.

After a couple hours of fishing, I returned home empty handed, dejected and demoralised.
Mum saw my sad face and offered some consoling words to me “never mind J, I not sure they even have trout in this reservoir”, trout, I was after pike! The rod, reel and tackle I had hunted out from the loft was in fact fly gear, my father was a fluff chucker after all.
After that experience it wasn’t until I was 11 years old and at high school before the fishing bug came around again. For years I had used the banks of this vast expanse of water as my play ground and on one particular summer’s day when I was biking around  I came across about 50 anglers gathering on the banks of the water, they all had lots of gear, rod bags, net bags, seat boxes and flashy clothing. Who where these men and what where they up to?. Of course i now know they were drawing their pegs for a club match.
After a while of watching from afar, they all trudged off with there gear to their pegs and started to set up. Some had very long rods with out reels, some had rods with white tips and some wandered about with shorter rods. Each one had they own set up up with different logos and brands on their gear. Shakespeare, Diawa, D.A.M to name a few.
A whistle was blow and then the anglers started chucking balls into the water at various distances and they started to cast their various types of rods into the water.
The angler closest to me, was fishing a very long rod and was starting to catch small silver fish and put them into a large long net. Fish after fish came to him and each one was expertly unhooked and placed into this net. The angler next to him was into the action too, but he was catching larger fish, less often, but small plate sizes brown fish with lots of slime on them. I soon became transfixed with these anglers i could see that they were trying to catch more than the other anglers on the bank.
Upon returning home all I could talk about to mum were these fishermen and their impressive catch rate.
The Christmas of 1986 was a special one. That morning I raced out of my bedroom and into the lounge, there was a long thin present under the tree. Upon opening it i discovered it was a D.A.M rod, a pirate reel and an assortment of line, weights, floats etc. I also had been bought a beginners book of fishing to go with it.

The three piece rod was soon assembled, reel attached and after consulting with the fishing book, line thread under the bale arm and through the many eyes on the rod.
I wanted to go down to the reservoir that morning, but mum suggested that it was too cold for the fish and I had better wait until the summer.
The months slowly passed but soon enough the magical 16 June 1987 was here. I ventured down the road to the reservoir with tackle bag, rod and the bait (mixed colour maggots bought by my mum from the local tackle shop). There were lots of other anglers down that morning and i soon nestled in between some of the other pleasure fisherman. I had rigged up the rod with a float and hook and after "cough cough" a couple of attempts the float was cast a few feet into the water. After a few minutes the float twitched and soon went under, I struck as hard as I could and a small roach came hurtling out of the water, over my head and landed on the bank. I rescued the fish and pinned it to the ground and saw the hook in its mouth. What now?, consult the book, but before I had chance to find the relevant section on “unhooking”, one of the other fisherman was upon me and soon had the small roach unhooked and back in the water.
 I re baited my hook and cast it back into the water and again the performance was repeated, but this time the fisherman showed me the correct way to strike, unhook and return each fish. I think I must have taken up a lot of his time, but he did not seem to mind. That first day inspired me and most weekends over the summer of 1987 were spent down on the reservoir catching small roach, perch and the occasional skimmer.
Match fishing didn't suit me

Over the next few years, my fishing evolved and it didn’t take me long to start upgrading things. First was the reel, this got changed for a Diawa DS1650 reel which had rear drag as opposed to the front drag pirate reel. Then, a new quiver tip rod was bought a Shakespeare combi wand (it could be made into three different rod lengths, by mixing up the sections).

Come the end of the summer term of 1988 I started to find friends at school that were also into fishing. Darren was a sea angler, but dabbled in pike fishing, so with his knowledge we ventured to his lake to catch pike just before the start of term.
Bait was sprat mounted on a shop bought traces and the trusty D.A.M rod was put into action as the pike rod. We fished for most of the day and caught a number of pike ranging from 4lb to 13lb and completely enjoyed ourselves. Darren was a good angler and he had read several books on pike and his dad had expertly shown him how to unhook pike and return them safely (it’s easy when you are shown correctly from the start).

First pike, guess the weight!
That autumn after catching numerous amounts of fish from both the reservoir and Darren’s lake, I decided that I wanted to catch pike from my home water. So one autumn morning after devouring the fishing bible and ensuring mum had bought be a mixture of sprats and Mackerel, i ventured out in search of pike. I headed to one of my favoured spots, tackled up and soon had a sprat out under a float. For what seemed like ages I watched that float and just as I was giving up all hope of a capture the float bobbed and the reel began to spin out of control.
After what seemed like a battle to the death the pike was landed and expertly unhooked, picture taken on the 35mm camera and returned. I was so excited by the capture of this pike that i found my self remembering the dead one the boy had brought to school two years previous and it was some time before i realised that I had forgotten to weight it.

Soon I was  fishing regularly over the winters for pike and  i was becoming accustomed to capturing pike from the reservoir. Rods were upgraded to Diawa 2.75tc carp rods and this is where I started to read a lot more pike books and the weekly paper Angling Times. Titles loaned out from the libaray and ones received as Christmas or Birthday presents were Big Pike – Barrie Rickards, Predator Becomes the Prey – John Bailey and of course Mega Pike – Eddie Turner. These books I still have today and still in most cases make perfect sense.
My first twenty from this water came in 1992. It was a cold December day and I was fishing one of the car park swims with my new season piking partner Simon.
A nice early season mid double

Now Simon was a couple of years older, and compared to my captures to date was inexperienced in catching pike as he was more into mudpigs in Essex. But he had a car, with his car and my local knowledge we travelled around my reservoir and others including Abberton for the next two season fishing for and catching pike.
Simon had only been fish with me for a couple of weeks and we had been sharing our successes on the reservoir, our season was going well with a number of pike going up to 19lb. But that was all about to change.

We arrived at the chosen swim and proceeded to set up up our gear at the waters edge. We soon had a couple of baits in the water and we started to catch some of the smaller pike. At around 9:30am, the optonic started to bleep, and looking up the float was gone from sight. We both raced to the rod and saw the line peeling from the reel. I closed the bale arm and struck only be to be met with a solid resistance. The drag started to click and was soon spinning, I dare not increase the tension as the line at the time was Maxima 12lb breaking strain(as recommended by the expert anglers) was singing in the cold air.
After an age, she surfaced and Simon almost wet himself, “What the hell is that” he yelled. “It’s a monster”, a monster maybe, but it was tiring I thought. Simon went to slip the net underneath her and she motored off, this happened on a couple of occasions before he finally slipped the frame of the net under her. She was ours!!!!!

Returning a beauty late in the day
My first 20lb plus pike
Soon she was unhooked, weighed and sacked whilst we got the camera gear ready. She weighed 22lb 8oz and was in mint condition.
After that capture we carried on fishing the water for the rest of the season and the next.

As both of us grew older Simon got into carping a lot more and spent the majority of his free time on pits in Essex.
I think from memory, it was because bigger carp were easier to find and soon he stopped coming out pike fishing altogether.

I continued to fish for pike and managed to fish other waters now that I could drive and had my own wagon, but the lure of my home water was always there.
After a few years break from fishing, due to beer, women and work. I came back into fishing and continued to fish for a variety of species.

I still fish this reservoir today, not because it will give me lots of 20lb or even a 30lb pike but because I enjoy just being there. It’s in my blood, and the place fills a huge proportion of my mind with many happy memories and thoughts.

From time to time it does throw up a few 20lb’s like the 21lb 10oz caught in January. So it still has some surprises left.

Jason Skilton