After such a dry late autumn and winter, the rain has arrived with a vengeance. Just ten days ago there was a meeting at Chew Valley to discuss the crisis that was looming due to the water levels. Normally in January the level is back to maximum due to the winter rain, but this year we were only at 53% of the top level in Chew and not much better in Blagdon. Guess what happened next? No I don’t suppose you have to really, as the whole country has been suffering for the last ten days. In less than a week, Chew was up to the 65% mark, and with the way the rain fell all weekend and the forecast that we have for the next week, things are beginning to look a bit better.

The rain has brought with it some seriously strong winds and, when I went to have a meeting with Bob Handford on Wednesday, I couldn’t believe how dirty the lake was looking. If that wasn’t bad enough, the wind and rain has increased ever since Wednesday and today when I went to the lake for a pike fishing trip, I would estimate that the water clarity was six inches at best! Wave action is always at its worst when there is shallow water and so, with Chew being just that, the wind is stirring up silt and washing the banks into the lake. It is all a bit of a double-edged sword; we want the rain, but not the wind, yet you cannot really have one without the other at this time of the year.

On the subject of ‘piking’ Saturday was the opening day of the pike season, but the wind was so bad that it had to be cancelled for fear of endangering lives! Sunday was a bit better, though the fishing was poor with the water clarity being so bleak. My friend Geoff Lambert and I managed only three pike between us today – a far cry from the great fishing that I reported on in October. Part way through the afternoon the wind eased to a virtual calm and we were astonished to see quite a number of trout rise. I am not talking about jumping fish; I am talking about proper rising trout that looked like they were feeding on the surface!

I have spent quite a lot of time this week putting the club newsletter together. It is quite an interesting task really, but I cannot see too many people wanting to do this which might account for the fact that I now get lumbered with it! I get to hear of all the competitions that are running and the dates of them; I also hear many snippets of news from the lodge, and I even get a few people telephoning me to asking for items to be included. At this time of year with the entry forms for the club competitions going out, including Jeff Loud’s English eliminators information, the bundle that’s put in the envelope is pretty big. It is good to see that for the first time ever, the English National is to be staged at Chew Valley Lake. Regulars who fish here have moaned for years about having to travel all around the country if they qualify for the national. Well this year they won’t have to. It will be interesting to see what happens. So long as the people in charge do not go too mad on stocking the lake in the run up to the event, I am sure it will be a positive final – September on Chew is a good month, but a stocky-bashing match will do none of the regulars any favours!

Tight lines,
Martin Cottis