If at first you don’t succeed… try, try, try again! That’s what Stroud specialist John Costello must be thinking after landing this magnificent 34lb 12oz Chew Reservoir pike, from the shore.

He takes up the story himself:

“I’ve pike fished Chew most years since it opened in 2001. I’ve never been obsessed by it but most years since 2007 I’ve had two or  three days on it, sometimes five or six, and always enjoyed it and even on the numerous gruellers, you know the next bite could be the fish of a lifetime.

After tickets went on sale in January I got myself three boat days in October. Then Steve Green phoned me to say he had double booked two bank days with a third friend and was I interested in the spare bank tickets. Why not I thought and agreed to what I thought were two days in November.

My besty ‘Jihaddi Dave’ took two of the boat places I had available, Steve had the other but Dave was not interested in the bank days. So I messaged Tony Pieater, who accepted my invite and I thought no more about it. Last Tuesday the aforementioned Pieater and I were sharing a boat on a muddy Midlands ditch when mid afternoon Steve phoned to say was I sorted for this Friday.

I had got the days wrong, and Tony couldn’t make those days so it meant finding another partner. The next day it seemed every friend was either washing their hair on Friday or had Covid, and by Thursday I was giving up hope of filling Friday’s spot, although another friend had taken Saturday.

On Thursday afternoon I got a message that the friend who had taken the Saturday place could not make it and as I didn’t fancy blind dating it was looking like I was going to be unable to fill either place. As I live less than an hour away I took a drive down to have a recce and even sell the spare bank space to someone I met on the bank. Driving round and chatting to the largely friendly anglers I found what I was looking for. Two guys had had some action in one area, including a 26, but even better they were out in the boats on Friday so I made sure I was first at the fishery gate next morning.

It was wet, the wind was in my face but I set up base camp and proceeded to securely set up bank sticks etc. A cold front swept in and the South Westerly shifted to the West, the brolly blew inside out and the rain intensified as the temperatures dropped. Good conditions… but I nearly bottled out.

I’m glad I didn’t though. What with wading out in chesties to cast as far as possible as well as spombing chopped fish after every couple of fish I hardly sat down all day as 16 pike kept me busy all day. The usual nightmares of odd fish crossing the other line, as well as drifting weed pulling the line out of the clips, plus all the trace changing, tying baits on and by the end of the day I was ready for home. In truth the 34-12 pictured is probably my best ever pike capture and I’m just glad I’m fit enough to still enjoy it.”