I don’t think i’ve ever known a situation where the chance to fish for Pike has caused such a furore as when Bristol Water announced they were opening Blagdon Reservoir for Pike trials that were strictly limited to fly anglers. Throw in the fact that they were charging four hundred pounds per boat per day for the chance of potentially catching a British record and it’s fair to say you’re going to get a few tongues wagging. I’m not going to go into the politics of it all about whether I think charging that much to fish is value for money because if Bristol Water want to charge that much and people are prepared to pay it then that’s upto the individual involved. I threw my hat into the ring for two reasons really, firstly I wanted to try and re-ignite my passion for fly fishing for Pike and secondly I might not get the opportunity to go again and in the time I have left on this earth I want to experience as much as I can.
When I found out I had managed to secure a day there was a tinge of excitement but also a realism that like most things fishing related, this place is probably being overhyped. There’s no doubt it had done big fish in the past but all the talk of forty pound fish crawling up the rods didn’t cut it and in my head I think it’s fair to say that so far it’s panned out as I expected and that is quite a few fish with the biggest to come out being 32.8. A big fish but nowhere near the sizes that some of the keyboard warriors on social media were creaming themselves over.
My day eventually came around and having paid that amount to fish I was expecting a champagne breakfast and strippers when I arrived at the lodge but all that greeted me was a manky old kettle, a tub of nescafe and big Cheets with his pork pies.
I’d got a couple of rods setup. One with a Rio T11 Custom Cut on with a big nasty Roach pattern in the 8-10 inch region and the other rod had a Di-3 with a smaller Roach pattern around 5 inches long. The Pike in Blagdon primarily feed on Trout as there are no Roach and only a few Perch in there so some people may question why I was using Roach patterns, well to answer that, there are no Mackerel in Chew but it doesn’t stop people catching Pike on them. When we eventually got out onto the water the other boats headed down into the shallows where most of the fish had been caught, which was ace because we headed in the opposite direction to where the water was a bit deeper where few people had fished. I’d got a plan in my head to fish the big pattern first off while the fish were hopefully still in a feeding mood and off guard. Then later in the day switch to a smaller pattern before switching back to the big pattern at dusk.
The conditions were fantastic for once, overcast with slight drizzle and the wind blowing us into the bank so we sat off on the first drift in twenty feet of water. Second cast a big fish followed my fly upto the boat before turning away. I’m not sure if seeing a big fish straight away is generally good or not. You would think it is good but i’ve had days before where that has happened and i’ve never seen another fish all day. It did raise my excitement levels somewhat though and ten minutes later I had a thumping take in eighteen feet of water. The fish stayed deep and the Sage took on a healthy curve after being laid dormant in the cellar for the last eight months. No searing runs, the fish just stayed deep and kept trying to get under the boat. Trying to get it’s head up was proving difficult but after what seemed like an eternity the fish finally surfaced and I could see that it was an upper twenty, maybe a thirty and it was a massive relief when it was finally in the net. On the scales she went 28lb and was a new pb by over three pounds. Although not a long fish it was built like a breeze block and was incredibly fat. Not a bad start bearing in mind we’d only been fishing fifteen minutes.
A short while later I had another hit on the big Roach pattern and this turned out to be a low double in the 10-11lb bracket. Next in was Andy with a jack of around 8lb before I had another fish coming in at 17lb. Whilst unhooking it I could see the tail of a Rainbow Trout sticking out from it’s throat. The trout was obviously a decent size and it just went to show how much of a feeding frenzy these fish were on for it to take my Roach pattern with a trout partially digested. Unbelievable stuff.
So far things were working out and we kept motoring out and drifting back into the bank covering new water on each drift. It was obvious there were quite a few fish in the area. Just when I was starting to think the fish were switching off I had another take which resulted in a nice fat fish of 15lb quickly followed by Andy getting another jack. After that fish I decided to change fly to something smaller as it was obvious the fishing had slowed down. Aswell as those four fish i’d lost another fish and had a few plucks but now it had quietened off and by changing to a smaller fly I was hoping it would bring me a fish or two during the “dead zone” between late morning and late afternoon.
A few minutes after changing to the small fly I had another solid take and was given the run around by what felt like another decent fish. Everytime I gained some line the fish decided it wanted it back and this tug of war went on for a few minutes. Eventually I caught sight of the fish and it looked like it was another twenty. I kept trying to give it some teddy to get it’s head up but this thing was fighting harder than the 28. Again the fish had nailed the fly and on the scales it went a smidgen over 21lb. It was turning out to be a cracking day so far and Andy followed that fish up with a nice fish around the 14lb mark.
After those two fish it did switch off though. We tried a couple of new areas, more to pass the time until the fish came back on the feed than anything else. I did get a couple of tentative plucks but nothing stuck.
We had to be off the water by 6:45 and with a couple of hours left we went back to the area where we fished before. I managed a couple of jack’s in quick succession but I really didn’t want to be catching those especially as i’ve been living on bread and cheese for the past month to pay for my ticket. I then lost a fish and took this as the signal to switch back to the bigger fly. By now the light was going and I was hopeful of getting another big fish or two. Almost immediately I had a solid take on the big Roach pattern. The fish kept deep and the water was fizzing with bubbles before the fish came up like a torpedo and tail walked across the surface. It did look another big fish around the 20lb mark but not quite coming in at 19.8.
Another cast and another solid take and a couple of head shakes before it spat the fly. The sport really was cranking up a notch now but with half an hour left, time was running out to get a 30. Every drift we started to get takes and then Andy got into a fish that was keeping deep and just as I was watching him play the fish I had a another take to get a double hookup. This was going to be interesting bearing in mind we only had the one net. They were both decent fish but not what we were after. Andy’s fish was 18.8 and mine was 18 and with that we decided to call it a day. We could have fished on for another fifteen minutes and maybe with hindsight we should have but with a total of thirteen fish to the boat it was a good point at which to end.
We didn’t contact any of the supposed monsters but there are obviously a lot of fish in there and with their diet mostly consisting of Trout they are incredibly fat. If they ever let lure anglers on the water I can’t begin to imagine the number of fish they might catch.