chew trout

Spring has finally sprung!

This last week has seen temperatures soar and put an end to the 3rd cold Spring in successive years!
Water temperatures have reached 22.5 degrees on Chew but the fish are still feeding happily and oxygen levels are fine - water clarity is also excellent.
On Chew the main trout areas have been the deep water at the Dam - but don't think these fish are deep - quite the opposite.  On overcast days Dry Fly is the best method and in other conditions it is Washing Line or simply straight lined nymphs.

My clients have had superb sport in recent weeks with lots of limit bags and hard fighting trout.


After weeks of rock hard fishing, the pike have finally started to feed with a vengeance on Chew and loads of big 20's plus a few 30's have been caught on the fly.  Jake Belgium has had an awesome year so far and topped it off last week with a 25lb 4oz pike - taken on a competition size Cats Whisker Booby intended for trout while fishing - wait for it - at the Dam!

My clients have all had good sport recently but we seem to be hitting doubles rather than 20 or 30 pounders.  Luck of the draw I suppose, but I am also sure some biggies will follow in the coming weeks.

England duty and the Grafham Trophy

Last week was spent in Ireland on the wonderful Lough Lein near Killarney fishing in the International Loch Style Spring match.  The wild brownies were small but plentiful and the rules were that only fish measuring 10" from tip of snout to INSIDE fork of tail would count.  On the first practice day, Richard Slater and I boated 43 trout and only 1 was sizeable!  We knew then that numbers in the match would be low.

However, with great team practice and top angling by my England team mates, we managed 18 fish for the team and brought home the covetted Gold Medal.  Wales were 2nd with 13 fish, Scotland 3rd with the same number and hosts Ireland were 4th with just 8 fish.

I also had the honour of being top English Rod and brought home the impressive Grafham Trophy.

Guided Days

Now I'm back until September (when I leave for Vail, Colorado and the World Fly Fishing Championships) so most of my days will be spent on Chew or Blagdon guiding for trout and pike.  I still have plenty of places available in July and August, so simply drop me an email to book a day.

John Horsey Fly Fishing
John Horsey Fly Fishing
John Horsey Fly Fishing

2016 Season looming

Not long now before the new fly fishing season begins on our reservoirs.
Blagdon Lake opens for business on 10th March, while Chew Valley opens a week later on Thursday 17th March 2016.

The Winter so far has been mild, wet and windy - although we have had nowhere near the huge amounts of rain experienced in the North of England, Scotland and Ireland.  In fact, neither Chew Valley or Blagdon are overflowing yet, but they are only a couple of feet below top water so we expect them to be full within a few weeks and certainly before Opening Days.

Book now for Guided Days

I am now actively taking bookings for Guided Days in 2016 on both Chew Valley and Blagdon Lakes.  Fish for quality Brown and Rainbow Trout on either lake and of course there is the opportunity to target massive pike on the fly at Chew. 

If you fancy a lake to yourself, then why not try Litton Lakes with me from a boat.  It is possible to have not one, but both lakes to yourself for the day, along with exclusive use of the Fishing Lodge where we can barbecue lunch in a truly peaceful environment.

Just drop me an email on my "Contact" page and we can get a day or two arranged for the coming season.

Chew Spillway
Herriots Bridge
Enrico Pini and I with his 40:08 fly caught Chew pike last March

Cold Spring but Great Fishing!

This has definitely been the longest and coldest Spring since I have been a fishing guide - it's now past Mid Summers Day and the winds keep on blowing!
Water temperatures are rising slowly and the weed growth on both Chew and Blagdon is heavy - due to the April sunshine apparently.

Still, in spite of all these cold winds, the trout and pike have fed well on all the Bristol Waters.  Average trout sizes on Chew Valley are 2lbs 15ozs at the present time - bigger than any of the UK's major reservoirs in fact.  And man do they fight hard!

Pike on Chew have been lazy - as usual.  However, catches are decent on overcast days and I have already had a 40:08, 31:08, 27:08 and several others over 25lbs this season on the fly.  I also went through a spell where my clients and I lost 11 pike on the trot as we simply could not hold them!  So pike on the fly is certainly worth a shot.

Lexus Team Heats

Last saturday we had a sell-out Lexus Teams Heat on Chew and 217 trout were caught by the 66 competitors.  Top Rod was Alun Williams of Cwm Flyfishers, whose 9 trout weighed in at 28lbs 1oz.  The biggest fish weighed 5lbs exactly and was landed by Steve Winstone of Team Airflo.
Congratulations to the 5 qualifying teams; Team Airflo, Anglo Welsh FF, Team Snowbee, Blagdon FF and The Water Rats. 
They will join 15 other teams at the Grand Final to be held at both Chew and Blagdon lakes on 15th and 16th August 2015.

Sky TV Tight Lines

Last Friday I was the guest angler on Sky Sports TV fishing show "Tight Lines".  We discussed plenty of fly action, both home and abroad for all species on the fly.  If you missed the show, then it is available on the Sky Sports Podcast.

With Keith Arthur in the Sky TV Studios
Cracking 27:08 Chew valley Pike on the fly
Fin Perfect 5lb Chew Rainbow

Chew Special on Sky TV

 Only 2 days to go before I go into the Sky Sports TV Studios to join Keith Arthur in the "Bothy" for an episode-long Chew Valley fishing "Special".

Keith and I fished Chew a few weeks ago and the Sky cameras were there to film it all.

We began the day fishing for trout and the Chew rainbows did not let us down.  Plenty of action with some cracking trout being caught.

Then we turned the attention to the Chew Pike - again on the fly.  Keith had a near double, so did I, but later we had something special.
All will be revealed on Friday's show.

Tight Lines, Sky Sports 3, Friday 5th July at 7:00pm

Keith Arthur and the Sky TV Crew

Ireland, Filming and Fishing

 The last 2 weeks have been pretty hectic.  First I guided each day on Chew and then filmed a "special" on Chew with Keith Arthur and the Sky TV cameras for Tight Lines.
We started off the day fishing for trout and had some cracking rainbows to over 4lbs - with Keith taking the best on a floating line with a Diawl Bach Nymph.
Then we had a go for the pike and both of us had one pretty quickly, but as the day went on, the rain got heavier and heavier.  We were about to call it a day when we landed a beauty - but you'll have to wait until Friday 5th July to see the action on Sky's Tight Lines when I am joining Keith in the Bothy for a "Chew Special" programme.

Ireland and Lough Derg

The very next day I caught the ferry from Liverpool to Dublin and then drove the 3 hours route down to Portumna and the mighty Lough Derg.  At 29 miles long, this is a brute of a lough, but full of fish.  We were filming for the Irish Tourist Board and along with top matchman Baz Simth, we landed over 200lbs of quality roach, bream and roach/bream hybrids over the two day-sessions.

I also lure fished for pike and along with top Irish Guide Dave Harris, we landed plenty of fish with 3 decent doubles and a couple of big fish lost upon the way.

There were also lots of mayfly coming off and I had a few chances at the big brownies, but sadly blew my chances when I was broken twice and then missed the best take of the day by striking too quickly - BAD ANGLING!!!!!

Back to Chew

Yesterday I fished with Anthony Tabor and his father John.  The weather was awful - strong, cold winds and unrelentless blue skies - fleece weather but also high factor sunscreen!  We fished long and hard with nymphs and floaters, but John managed only 1 good rainbow in 6 hours of drifting and fishing the known hotspots.
Anthony was happy to try the sinking lines, so on went a DI3 and our fortunes changed instantly.  
We drifted from the North Shore across to Denny Island and in 2 hours had boated another 10 rainbows and lost several others.  John also switched to a slow sinking Intermediate and he too joined in the action.
Boobies, Blobs and Nymphs all caught fish and the action was at times frantic, with some great fighting fish. 

Lexus Heat on Blagdon

Today I held the first ever Lexus Individual Heat on Blagdon and it was a raging success.  In the sell-out Floating Lines Only Heat, the average catch per rod was 8.5, with an amazing average weight of 2lbs 11ozs.

Top rod was Mark Stevens, who qualified for the Grand Final at Chew in September and won an emboidered Greys jacket and a pair of Ugly Fish Sunglasses.  The other qualifiers, who all won Greys reels were John Piper, Wayne Aitken, Jim Purvis, Mark Thomas, Alex Johnstone, Steve Ebdon and John Glanfield.


Baz Smith and me with Lough Derg Bream and Hybrid
John Tabor with fin perfect Chew Rainbow
Keith Arthur's best Chew rainbow

Great new Bristol Water Web Site

 Bristol Water have a fantastic new Web Site.

Check out and see for yourselves.

All the latest reports, tips and "how to" methods, plus all the up-to-date competitions and events on both Chew Valley and Blagdon Lakes.

If you want some free tuition days with me - then all the dates are on the new site.

There are even brand new VIDEO CLIPS  for both TROUT and PIKE featuring top anglers.

So log on to and check out all these new features.


What a week on Chew!

 This last week has been sensational on Chew - apart from the weather - which has been dreadful.  Cold winds, rain and hail storms have dominated the forecast, but the Chew trout and pike have fed well.
I started the week on Sunday where I fished my England Qualifier and failed to make the cut for the National at Grafham by a mere 4ozs!
Chew fished very well on the day, with no less than 30 of the 38 competitors taking their 12 fish limit bags.  We fished to a very sensible 6 fish kill, then 6 fish release with a further 2lbs an hour time bonus.

I caught my first 6 fish in Villice Bay using nymphs on a floating line within 55 minutes, but switching to debarbed hooks and moving about to find some new fish, meant I lost both several fish and some all important time.  I completed my 6th released fish at 13:45, but sadly my total weight fell agonisingly short of the qualifying cut-off weight of 36lbs 9ozs.

Congratulations to those who qualified, with newcomer dale Burgess winning the day.  Fisheries manager Tony Donnelly also qualified for the National and I wish all the qualifiers well for the Grafham finale - I only wish I was joining you!


On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I hosted ian Gregg's party of anglers and fisheries biologists for their 9th annual trip after the Chew Pike.  The "Chew Valley Pikers" managed a very creditable 33 pike over the 3 days, with Eric Hope taking the best brace of the season so far at 28lbs 2ozs and 27lbs.  Keith Hendry had a 23lb 8ozs tagged fish, while brother Cliff also had a tagged fish of 16lbs.  Ian Gregg had a 26lb pike, while James Stephens landed another fish of 26lbs 8ozs.

Next week Sky TV's Keith Arthur and the film crew will be fishing with me, so I am keeping everything crossed that the weather will be kinder than this week.

Chew Valley Pikers on Chew
Eric Hope's 28lb 2oz Chew pike
Keith Hendry with a cracking 23lb 8oz Chew pike

Massive Buzzer hatch on Chew!

Buzzers everywhere

Take a look at the photo below and see the MASSIVE buzzer activity yesterday evening at Chew Valley Lake.  They were literally everywhere.

Earlier that day, I fished with father and son team Andy and Guy Torrance and they had a real head-to-head fishing day - reminiscent of myself and my sons!
The fishing was harder than of late and we moved around the lake looking for fish and a bit of shelter from the very gusty South Westerly winds  At times I was wishing they would turn back to the East again - but without the drop in temperature.

Guy was on his first trip to Chew and when he lost a big fish early in the day on a Diawl Bach Nymph, I thought he might even finish with a dreaded blank.  But Guy is made of stronger stuff!  Andy caught, missed and lost fish steadily, with most taking a Black Lure on a floater.  Guy missed a few, but just couldnt connect properly.

Switch to a DI5 Sinker brough results

However, at 5:00pm we changed Guy to a DI5 sinker and within an hour he had 4 fish - same as Dad!  I had to leave around 6:30 but they were back on the water resuming their family fishing contest - fished in the very best of spirits I might add.

Definitely one to watch for the future is young Guy Torrance!  Perfect attitude and application.

Monday on Chew

On Monday I fished with Rob Ratcliff, which was his first trip out of the new season.  It was a cracking day, with light winds for a change and much warmer air temperatures.  Understandably, Rob fancied fishing the floater, so we tackled up with Black Lures on the point and Diawl bachs for droppers.  Slow retrieves were the order of the day and we caught everywhere we drifted - Stratford, Moreton, Herons Green, Wick, Nunnery Point and along the East Shore and Spring Bay.

We both finished the day with limit bags of over 22lbs.  I spooned all of the fish and although the priciple food form is still daphnia, there is more bloodworm and tiny buzzer appearing in their diets.

Pike on Thursday

I am out again tomorrow and this time it is the Chew pike that we are targetting.  Then it's trout again on Friday and Saturday.

Buzzers galore on Chew
Guy Torrance with a good Chew rainbow
Andy and Guy at 4 fish apiece

More huge Chew trout

I normally don't update my Blog so frequently, but feel I need to keep the info flowing about Chew Valley's incredible trout fishing.
Normally by mid November, the trout fishing has died a death on Chew, but not this year.
Yesterday I fished with Tony Ling, who has an enviable record of catching trout over 5lbs in all of his last 6 visits to Chew this season - and yesterday he kept the record going with another fin perfect 5lb rainbow - see pic.

We fished lots of areas yesterday, from Herons Green, to Moreton Point, through the False island, along east Shore and around the back of Denny Island.  We had takes or caught fish in just about every location - but we tended to drift close to the shore or along reed beds.

The trout are still feeding like crazy and the marrowspoons revealed daphnia, hoglice and shrimp in big numbers.  Although Minkies, Black Lures and large Minkie Boobies are taking the majority of the fish, I used a standard floating line for long periods yesterday with a team of 4 Diawl bachs and Crunchers.  I hooked 6 fish, lost 3 and landed 3 and my best fish of 4lbs took the point fly Cruncher.

Chew is open until 30th November and boats are available most days - BUT DO RING THE LODGE FIRST ON 01275 332339 TO CHECK ON AVAILABILITY.

Mark Thomas and Ceri Sweeny came across from Wales today and landed 24 trout in an action packed day.  They mainly fished behind the Island near to Hollowbrook and the East Shore using Slime Lines and Black Lures.


Bristol Reservoirs Fly Fishers Association have organised an end of season friendly competition at Chew Valley on 24th November.  It will be fished to Fishery Rules and you can choose your own boat partner.

There is no Entry Fee and top prize is a Turkey - ready and waiting for you for Christmas Day.  There will also be plenty of other prizes.

This is a great opportunity to spend one last day on Chew Valley chasing the massive rainbows that are feeding all over the lake and also a perfect way to end the season.

To enter, simply email the BRFFA Secretary Martin Cottis on


Tony Ling and 5lb Chew rainbow
My best 4lb rainbow - look at it's tail!
A spoon full of Shrimp

Trout fishing amazing on Chew!

The Chew Valley trout fishing keeps getting better!  I fished today with my good mate Martin Cottis and our limit bags of rainbow trout weighed an average of 3lbs 2ozs; for reservoir trout, this is an incredible weight.
We didn't start until after 11:00am and on my first cast of the day, I hooked and landed a 3lb rainbow.  We drifted all day - not even needing a drogue - mainly close to the margins and the reedbeds and had follows, takes and hook-ups all day.

In my 20 years as a Pro Guide on the Bristol Waters, I have never witnessed such incredible trout fishing at this time of the year.  Martin has been out a lot recently and enjoyed top class fishing on every single occasion.  Much of my recent guided trips have been for pike, but I was itching to get out for these fin perfect rainbows.

We both fished just 2 flies - something black on the dropper and a minkie on the point.  I tied a few Brown Minkies last night and found a Humungous hiding away in the corner of a lure box, which I put on the dropper.  I used a DI3 Sinker while Martin opted for a Kelly Green Intermediate fly line.  In fairness, we could both have fished floating lines, as the fish were so high in the water.

Trout stuffed with shrimp, hoglice and daphnia

At this time of the year, you would expect the trout to be feeding hard on fry, but all the fish we spooned had hoglice, shrimp, daphnia and snails in them.  As it is so close to the Winter months, trout normally like a bigger fly, so even though nymphs will work, they will always make an effort to take a bigger fly or lure.  Having said that, local angler Rod Newton recently weighed-in a 6 fish limit bag of rainbows for 33lbs - an average weight of over 5lbs per fish - and all took tiny Black Buzzers fished at anchor off Moreton Point using a Floating Fly Line.

My best fish weighed 5lbs 4ozs and came close to the trees in East Shore, near the Bird Blind.  Martins best rainbow weighed just over 4lbs.  I also caught and released a superb Brown Trout of over 3lbs.

Boats are still available for trout fishing during all the Pike Trials dates and those when the pikers are not on the water.  Booking in advance is a good idea, especially when the Pike Trials are on.

Guiding still available until 30th November.

As the trout fishing is so good, I have decided to extend my Guiding Services until the end of November.  It seems that even during days when the winds blow and the rains come; the trout fishing is still fantastic.

I have never known the back-end trouting to be so good, so I would advise you to have a crack at it before it is too late - you won't be disappointed!

My first fish of the day - a 3lb plus rainbow
Cracking Brownie - returned of course!
Another top quality Chew Rainbow

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