It seems like this year is going to see quite a few changes at the fishery. I will outline some of them below. First, however, I want to ask readers to get involved in a club in their area. In Bristol, our association is pretty strong, but it still could do with more members. All around the country there are clubs and associations that run events for its members.

We are currently running Monday night fly-dressing classes; on January 26th, John Horsey will be hosting a slide show and talk; in February we will be holding two auctions; there is a busy calendar for the season; and instruction days are provided for beginners/improvers. I know that there are many such programmes around the country, so get involved!

Back to Friday night! Kim presented the catch figures for last year and then went on to show how the stocking programme is to be increased for this season. There were times – such as during the Orvis sponsored competition in May, when there were far too many fish in the lake – I know that I am not too popular in saying such things, but I really believe that the fisheries are bending over backwards to please the anglers and as a result the fishing can be far too easy!

Here are the main issues that will be different at the Bristol Waters this season:
Juniors will be allowed to fish the banks free of charge, provided that an adult angler accompanies them.

Novices may share a permit with an experienced angler – until they catch their first trout

Life jackets must be worn when boat fishing.

August boats will be on offer at three for the price of two.

There will be a reduction on the price of midweek April boats

The former "executives only" reservoirs at Litton will be available to "ordinary" anglers on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The charge to be £42 per angler.

John Horsey is to provide six "free" tuition days, where anglers may go and fish with him for an hour at a time at no charge.

Parking will be free to all anglers (it was actually free last year, but there was a great amount of misunderstanding about it).

Pike fishing will be allowed from 15th October until 30th November.

I had better tell you a bit more about the pike fishing as that was the announcement that caused most discussion.

Pike were introduced – illegally, in the early nineties. The first one caught by a trout angler was examined by fisheries scientists and found to contain a "snap-tackle" in its stomach. Early netting of the pike in the reservoir indicated that the older fish netted showed the same growth characteristics – slow early life growth, similar to fish found in Fenland drains/gravel pits, and then a sudden increase in growth, as may be experienced by fish with a dietary/habitat change. Netting was carried out on the pike for five years in order to establish the quantity and size range of the fish in Chew. The Institute of Ecology took part in the work, and they have estimated, using pretty reliable information that Chew probably holds about 700 big pike, and that this number can be reasonably sustained. The diet of the pike over 80 cm consists mainly of smaller pike. The population cannot be removed, hence Bristol Water has decided to utilise this facility.

The Pike Angler’s Club has offered advice as to how the fishery should manage its pike fishing operation and some of their advice has been incorporated into the rules that Bob and Kim are to employ. I won’t go through the whole set, but main elements include the use of a minimum of 15lbs line; 25lbs minimum trace wire; SEA FISH deadbaits only; spinners/lures to be at least 4 inches long; trout to be returned immediately; if two rods are to be used from the bank, they must be no more than 1 metre apart.

I have put my name down for a spot of piking when the trout season has run its course, and I will certainly be going for a pike or two with the fly this year. Sensibly the rule has changed on this issue too, as now it is essential that a wire trace be used when fly fishing specifically for pike.

Bob tells me that bookings are going well for the pike experiment, so get in quickly if you wish to be one of the first to try out a new venue. Bob and his son Tom have just set up a website which he would like you to check if you have the time. It is and there is a link to Bob that may enable you to get a booking made.

So all in all this season looks like being quite different on my home water. If you do make it down here for a trip, feel free to give me a call – especially if you would like to be guided round the lake and shown some of the top drifts. I will be taking out anglers a great deal more this year.

Tight lines,

Martin Cottis