pike fly fishing

The New Season beckons .....

Well it had to happen; a long, dry, wind free and generally mild Winter - then just as the Lake is due to reopen for Pike Fishing - WHAM!  Gale force winds and driving rain are forecast for the West Country, driving right across Chew Valley Lake and causing the cancellation of the 1st two days of the 2017 Pike Trials on Thursday and Friday!
Don't get me wrong, we desperately need lots of rain to fill both Chew and Blagdon, but why did the winds have to pick up to ruin the start of another Pike Trials Session?  Exactly the same happened last year and another Opening Day was lost.

Still, if the forecasters are right, then the worst of it should have passed by Saturday and the boats should be let out to sample the best pike fishing in Europe - if not the World!

I am doing 10 days for Bristol Water as their official Pike Guide and there are still 2 days free in November - simply ring Bristol Water Fisheries at Woodford Lodge, Chew on 01275 332339 to book a day for 1 or 2 rods (the price is the same).

Guided Trout Fishing for 2017

This will be my 23rd year as a Professional Fishing Guide and hopes are high for a great season on the Bristol Waters.  Early season until July last year saw both Chew and Blagdon enjoy amazing trout fishing.  Huge hatches of buzzer brought fish to the surface as early as Opening Day and nymph fishing became the norm throughout March and April. 

Then once the warm weather came, massive hatches of damsel flies drove the trout into a frenzy - particularly on Blagdon.  In all my years fishing the Bristol Waters, I have never witnessed the trout feed so voraciously on damsels - and the fishing with washing line tactics or dries - was electric!

This year Chew opens first on 9th March and Blagdon opens a week later on the 16th March.  The lakes are currently lower than would be hoped, with Chew at 68% and Blagdon just 56% of capacity.  However, this rain will certainly push both lakes up a bit and that will be a good thing.

I can provide the latest Hardy Rods and Reels plus any other tackle if necessary.  Comfortable boat seats come as standard in my boat and all you need to bring is a packed lunch and some drinks!

Litton is also a great place for tuition or Corporate Days and where else in the country can you get not 1, but 2 lakes exclusively to yourself?

Guided Pike Fishing

Pike on the fly is a fantastic way to target Chew's mammoth fish and unlike the Pike Trials, where getting a boat is like rocking horse manure, access on the fly is available throughout the season.  Also, unlike using treble hooks, a single debarbed pike fly is really unintrusive as regards capture.  So there is far less chance of damaging the pike and due to the nature of the weather conditions here in the West Country, the oxygen levels rarely deplete, meaning that the pike are fighting fit throughout the Summer months.

I can supply top of the range Hardy rods and reels plus all terminal tackle, flies, nets and crash mats to target these amazing creatures.

So why not book a day with me in 2017?  Simply go to "Contact" and I will be in touch.


Chew Spillway showing the low water levels
Nice silver early season Blagdon rainbow
A Chew Summer pike on the fly

The season so far ......

Its amazing to think that we are already into August and another season is flying by!  Apart from a week or so of scorching hot weather, this has been a cool Summer with plenty of rain and even more wind!!  As I write this blog the rain is pouring down outside but that does have the helpful effect of cooling down the water temperatures on our lakes and reservoirs - as I'm out on Chew for pike on the fly for the next 2 days, this will be very welcome indeed.


The trout fishing on Blagdon in recent weeks has been incredible.  First with grown on rainbows and browns feeding on damsels, migrating leeches and corixa at the Top End, then to deep fished nymphs and boobies at the Dam where the fish fought like fury!  Barry Hawyes and I had a great couple of days boating fish after fish, with Barry taking browns to over 5lbs and rainbows over 4lbs.

Chew has been harder of late, but a month ago everyone was heading to Stratford and Herriots where overwintered trout were feeding amongst the weed on bloodworm and corixa.  There were some monsters to be caught but the weed growth and increase in water temperatures stopped this for a while.


Pike have been feeding during the cooler days and some cracking fish have fallen to the fly this season.  One of my regular clients ian Gregg had a superb 36-04 pike using a tiny baitfish pattern at Stratford, and there have been a couple more over 30lbs and plenty over 20lbs.
My season so far has been fine as regards numbers, but high doubles have been my best to the boat, although we have lost some bigger fish which we could not hold!
As the water cools, I reckon things will pick up and more of the big girls will begin to show.

Barry Hawyes with his amazing 5lb 2oz Blagdon Brown trout
John Horsey with a superbly conditioned Blagdon rainbow
Ian Gregg's 36lb monster from Chew on a fly

Let's go Trout fishing!

Blagdon opens in just 11 days time and with the lake overflowing for weeks and the water crystal clear, the early season looks like being superb. Fin perfect rainbow and brown trout are the target for fly anglers from all over the World who make a pilgrimage to World renowned Blagdon Lake.

Why not get your season underway and book a day with me to show you the top areas on Blagdon's 440 acres?  For the last few seasons, floating lines and teams of nymphs have worked really well, both on the drift and at anchor.

Alternatively, if Chew Valley is your preferred venue, you will only have to wait another week until opening day on the 14th March.  Once again, quality rainbows and browns abound in Chew's 1200 acres, but getting the right drifts and areas can be a bit daunting.

If you fancy booking a day on either lake, then simply get in touch via the "contact" area of my website.

Pike on the Fly

Some of you might prefer to target pike on the fly rather than trout.  Chew Valley is without doubt the top pike water in the UK and with at least twenty seven 30lb pike and two over 40lbs coming out in the recent set of pike trials, expectations are high that the pike fly fishing this season will throw up a lot of monster fish - perhaps even a new record!

If you don't have the right gear to tackle these toothy critters, then I can supply top of the range hardy Rods and reels plus all flies for the job; free of charge.

A cracking Chew rainbow
Blagdon Brownie
30;04 Chew pike taken by JH on the fly

Chew starts with a bang!

Chew has been open for over a week now and it has seen some incredible fishing!  Even on the coldest of days, buzzers have hatched all over the lake and the Chew trout have been feasting on them.
I have been fishing dries whenever the winds have dropped and even though the first week was very cold, these last few days have seen the air temperatures rise to over 16 degrees, with water temperatures over 10 degrees.

Lots of anglers have been fishing DI3 and DI5 lines with blobs, boobies and nymphs and they have caught well.  Others have used straight lined nymphs on floaters, washing lines with booby and nymphs and some of us have been targetting rising fish with dries - amazing!

It was the washing line that accounted for John Tabor's cracking 3lb plus Chew rainbow - overwintered and fin perfect.  John and son Anthony had a good day on the trout, even though the winds were freezing and the day was interspersed with rain storms!

The pike fishing has also been pretty good for the time of year and all of my clients have landed pike on the fly.  Best results to date go to first time pike on the fly angler Olly Seymour, who boated pike of 8:04, 13:08 and 18:08 yesterday.  I also chipped in with one of 24lbs to make it a real day to remember!

If you havent got a Chew boat booked yet, then my advice is to do it as soon as possible!!!!

John Tabor with an overwintered Chew rainbow
Olly Seymour's 18:08 Chew pike
Me with my 24lb Chew pike

Bookings being taken for 2014 Season!

The new season is only a few weeks away, with Blagdon opening on 15th March and Chew Valley a week later on 22nd March.
Now is the time to think about getting new tackle; spools of leader materials, tying some new fly patterns, investing in that new rod or reel you've been promising yourself and of course, booking some days on your favourite fisheries.

My bookings have been pretty heavy this year already, with only 5 days remaining in March, 2 days in May and 10 days left in June.  April is still fairly clear and judging by the recent levels and previous seasons, should be a good month.  If the weather stays warm, then it should be a brilliant month, with plenty of fly and most fish feeding on buzzer pupae and bloodworm.

If you fancy a guided day fly fishing for trout - or perhaps scaling up a bit and trying for pike on the fly - then drop me an email via the "Contacts" page.  I can supply all tackle for trout or pike and there is no extra charge for this.

Both Chew and Blagdon are now overflowing and looking fantastic.  Bristol Water are doing their usual repairs and maintenance to their two fleets of boats and they will all be ready for Opening Days.

Blagdon Fishing Lodge
Blagdon spillway overflowing
Chew overflowing at a rate of knots!

Scintillating back-end sport

 It looks like being a superb back-end on the Bristol Waters with both Chew and Blagdon fishing really well to top-of-the-water tactics.
Dry Fly or Washing Line techniques with floating lines seem to be getting the best success, although fish are still coming to the fast pull using Fabs or Boobies on Intermediate to slow sink lines.

I have spooned every fish that has come to my boat this Autumn and the main food source is empty buzzer shucks, small buzzer pupae and a few terrestrials.  I have yet to spoon a fry from any trout, although there are more roach and perch fry this season than for at least 4 years.

The levels have dropped drastically on both lakes but thankfully the weed is also dying away quickly.

The pike are still proving hard to tempt, but with such unusually warm days and a water temperature on Chew still over 16 degrees, I expect they will make a better showing once the temperatures drop.  Having said that, I am guiding for them a lot at the moment and getting several small fish every trip, plus Jan Munnick had a cracking 15lb pike a couple of days ago.

Perch on the other hand, are just starting to hit the fry and Alex Mason and his father George had 26 in 2 hours yesterday, with the best at 4:02, 3:06 and 3:11.  They both had their PB's and it was great watching them and unhooking these beautiful fish - one after the other!

Bristol Evening Post drops Angling column

Sadly, the new Sports Editor of the Bristol Evening Post has decided that fishing does not merit an Angling Column after more than 30 years.  Roy Garland has provided a great service for many years, but it now appears that the new Editor; Mike Norton, feels that there is no demand for an angling column to satisfy the needs of one of the UK's biggest participant sports.  
Bob Feltham is running a campaign to get the popular weekly column reinstated, so if you want to add your support, then contact him on:



Alex and George Mason with a nice brace of Chew perch
Jan Munnick with his 15lb Chew pike
Barry Hawyes with a cracking Chew Rainbow taken on a dry fly

My 1st Chew 30lb Pike this season on the fly

At long last, the Chew pike have made an appearance - and what an appearance!

I fished 4 times this week with clients and we have had some cracking sport, with the best fish weighing in at 30lbs 10ozs.  That fish fell to my rod, although my guest for the day, Stephen Bates, also had a Personal Best fly caught pike of 20lb 4oz, plus we both had doubles and jacks to take our score well over the 100lb mark!

PAC Chairman John Synnuck and I started the campaign off with 14 fish over 2 days for 250lbs; the best fish weighing 23lbs 4ozs.

Later in the week I fished with Vincent Middleton and we had a 20lb and 19lb fish in our 10 fish haul.

It looks like the roach shoals have started to congregate and this is always the key to the best pike fishing, as they simply do not target the trout in their absence.  This season has been difficult for pike due to the very late spawning and unprecedented high water levels - in fact, the lake is still overflowing, which has never happened before in August in Chew's 56 year history.

Trout fishing also good

The trout fishing is good on Chew providing the wind and sun does not conspire to ruin things.  Try along the edge of the weedbeds off Moreton and Stratford for some truly huge rainbows, using washing line tactics with Diawl bachs and Crunchers.  Dry fly is also working, but don't be afraid to twitch them to simulate corixae.

Herons Green is also another top spot, with straight lined nymphs being favourite.

But due to the high water levels and the lack of weedbeds this season, the trout are really well spread and anglers are even catching over the Roman Shallows area and across the middle.  The North Shore and Picnic Areas also hold plenty of fish and Wick Green is fishing well.

Blagdon has been fishing it's head off for weeks now and the quality of the fish is superb.  Rugmoor is great for the boats, with any of the points around the lake good for bank anglers.  Try Butcombe Bay and Pipe Bay with both nymphs and dries, but on tricky days, I have had loads of success with a DI3 Sinker, using an Orange blob on the top dropper, 2 Diawl bachs in the middle and a Sparkler Booby on the point - believe me, it is truly great sport having follows and bow-wavers chasing your flies!

Salmon here I come!

I am off to Ireland to fish for salmon on the Rivers Mourne and Finn next week.  Apparently there are loads of fish in the river systems due to the wet summer and levels are still unusually high for the time of year.

We will be filming the trip and Peter Gathercole will be taking the stills to cover the action in Trout and Salmon Magazine.

Lexus Final on 1st September.

Yesterday I completed the last Heat of the Lexus Individual Championships at Draycote Water near Rugby.  We also had a Heat at Ravensthorpe the previous day, so now we have 100 Qualifiers who will be fishing at Chew Valley Lake on 1st September trying to win the ultimate prize in fly fishing - the keys to a Lexus RX450 Hybrid SUV worth over £50,000!

Sky TV will be covering the event and some of the World's best fly anglers will be taking part.

My 30lb 10oz Chew Pike
Steve bates with his 20 pounder
Vincent Middleton andf a 19lb Chew fish

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