English National, Chew trout and pike

Last week I spent 4 days at Bewl Water in Kent practicing for; and then fishing in, the English Loch Style National Final.  Here, 100 of England's top anglers had qualified for the National Final, where the top 28 would represent Team England in the 2013 Loch Style Internationals to be held at Bewl Water in the Spring and Lake of Menteith (Scotland) in the Autumn.

I practiced for 3 days with Howard Croston, my great friend and fellow England World Team Member who works for Hardy and Greys.  We had plenty of fish on a variety of methods during practice, but sink tip or floating lines with washing line tactics seemed the best method.  My best fly was a Woofta Booby on a new Airflo Midge Tip, but we both knew that turning the energetic follows into takes on match day would be a problem as the fish came under more and more pressure during practice sessions.

On the day of the match, Bewl was becalmed and fish started to rise in the main basin.  This was going to be where I intended starting, as I hate the Cages area where I knew many would head.  I was praying the flat calm would prevail, but soon into the match, a light ripple covered the water and most of the fish stopped rising.

Thankfully, I covered a dimple rise near the tower at about 11:45 and a tiny sip engulfed my Claret Hopper - I struck and all hell let loose, culminating in a 3lb 6oz rainbow.  My boat partner Ian Watts had already landed a decent rainbow on a Booby, so we were both set for a few more fish.  But it got harder and harder for us both as the ripple stayed and the fish refused to rise.

I tried washing line tactics, but could only get the fish to follow.  Then another flat calm happened.  We moved around the lake looking for risers and finally found a few at the mouth of Bewl Straight.  I had been using normal size 10, 12 and 14 dries, but had several refusals, so I opted for 2 size 16 dries which I found in an old box in my tackle bag.  The first fish I covered ate it and trout number 2 nestled in my bass bag.  Then another ate it in similar style and it turned out to be a brownie, which had to be returned - what a rediculous rule on a day of such importance - a fishery rule I stress, nothing to do with the organisers!

I felt on such a hard day this might cost me my place in the England team, as once again, the ripple developed and the trout disappeared again.  Thankfully, at 5:30pm, the flat returned and I raced toward Bewl Straight - once again, a few fish rose and I covered one to hook and land my 3rd fish - and that, as they say, was that!  Ian also got one more fish on the Booby.

My weight of 7lbs 1/2oz gained me 27th place and with it a place in one of next year's Loch Style Teams - phew, what a relief!!!

Congratulations to Steve Cullen for winning the National and to runner-up Tony Fox, who were the only anglers to take their 8 fish limit bags.  And congratulations to the other 25 qualifiers - well deserved!

Chew Trout and Pike are amazing!

On Saturday I fished with 4 clients on Chew who landed 17 trout in bright sun and a steely cold wind - dreadful conditions for Chew Valley.  Floating Lines and nymphs were the tactics, with Diawl Bach's and Crunchers leading the way off Wick Green.  Oliver had a fantastic 4lb 10oz rainbow (see pic) and as the wind dropped, fish began to rise.

Next day I was piking with Neil West - it rained all day, blew a "hoolie" and the conditions were so bad, Chew Magna made National news for floods throughout the village!  Neil had 2 PB's weighing 13.08 and 15.08, while I sneaked out a 25.08 and a 20.08.

On Monday and Tuesday, the winds were so severe all the boats were cancelled.

On Wednesday I fished with Dave Sproston for pike during more rain and he had fish of 20.08 and 28.12, while I had a 27.08 pike plus a few smaller fish.

Today, Tony Ling and I braved strong winds and sunshine for 11 trout weighing 27lbs 11ozs.  Tony had a 4.02 and 4.00 rainbow, along with 5 others.  Most of the fish took nymphs, although we did tempt a couple on dries at last knockings.

My advice for anyone thinking of coming to Chew is - DO IT!  The fishing is fantastic!!



Oliver's 4lb 10oz Chew Rainbow
Dave Sproston's 28lb 12oz Chew pike
My 27lb 8oz Chew Pike

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