Chew Valley Lake

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

2015 Season underway!

Monday heralded the start of the 2015 fishing season on Chew Valley Lake, starting with the Spring Pike Trials.  Already pike up to 39:06 have been caught so it looks like the "big girls" are certainly feeding!  I am out for the first time tomorrow so we're hoping for light winds and slightly warmer weather - although I don't think that is likely.
There has been a big spread of boats across Chew's 1200 acres and the bank anglers have also done very well.  In fact, as I write this around midday on Wednesday, reports are just coming through that a 38:00 has recently been banked.
I am out with Mike and Will Anderton from Keswick for the next two days, so I will update the Blog and FB with any fish that we catch.

2015 Fly Fishing Bookings

I am now taking bookings for the coming fly fishing season; both for trout and pike on the fly; Chew and Blagdon Lakes.  Already my weekend dates have booked fast and although both Opening Days are booked, there are plenty of early season dates still available.

Blagdon opens on Saturday 7th March while Chew opens a week later on Saturday 14th March 2015.  The stock fish have fed well over the mild Winter months and are in tip-top condition for the start of the season.  I am also hopeful that plenty of rainbows and browns will have overwintered this year due to thew mild weather and availability of food throughout.  Some of my piking friends have reported follows from huge trout while lure fishing for pike, so things are looking very positive all round.

John Horsey Fly Fishing
John Horsey Fly Fishing
Blagdon Boat Harbour

2014 Season almost over

The boat fly fishing season is now over until 2015 and some super fish came out in the last few weeks.  The pike trials continue until Friday next week and then all boat fishing will cease until next year.
Pike have fed well during this very mild Autumn with masses of roach and perch fry present.  However, there are already over 300 cormorants present on Chew Valley Lake and they will feast themselves on the silver fish stocks during the close season.  I hope that they do not obliterate them completely as they are such an important part of the food chain on Chew.

Since 17th October in the BLAC Lure Final on Chew, I have had Pike Trials boats and fly fishing boats and have landed 80 pike and countless numbers of perch during these sessions.  There has been a true cross section of sizes of pike, proving that all year classes are present - despite claims to the contrary by the vocal misinformed!

IGFA Fly Tippet records

Richard Hart fished with me on the fly recently and claimed 4 IGFA perch fly tippet records.  His best perch weighed 3lbs 10ozs.  This was the first time I have ever had anyone fish for line caught records and it certainly made the day interesting.  Richard's colleague Lloyd Morgan also caught plenty of perch plus pike to 13:08 which was his PB fly caught pike.  Rich then followed that by catch and releasing a 4:08 rainbow and a stonking 6:00 brown trout!

Pike and Trout

Will Anderton came to Chew from Keswick and landed a PB pike and trout in the same day.  Will's 6:00 rainbow was an absolute deep bellied beauty!
Barry Hawyes had an 18:00 pike with me on Monday this week, while John Synnuck boated pike of 27:04 and 17:00; losing another tail walking mid 20 while I was unhooking his first high 20!



Will Anderton's 6:08 Chew Rainbow
Rich Hart's 6:00 Chew Brownie
Rich Hart's Record IGFA fly tippet 3:10 Chew Perch

Pike Trials Success

The Chew Pike Trials began last Monday and are now into their 2nd 5-day session.  At least one 30lb fish has been caught every day and sometimes two in a day!  This is in addition to many big 20's and a host of doubles.  Even the smaller fish; which many thought were not present last year, have made a welcome appearance, so all is well with the Chew pike population.
The roach and perch shoals are absolutely immense and will provide food for the predatory fish and the overwintering trout.  Sadly there are already over 200 cormorants on Chew Valley and this is not good news for these baitfish.  

My best fish last week weighed 31:08 and was part of an 11 fish haul to lures with John Synnuck, whose best fish was 21:08, while I managed another of 23:00.  Yesterday I fished with Nigel Snell and his son Josh and we boated just the 3 fish - Nigel had a 6:00 pike then I had one of 23:00, before Nigel topped the day off nicely with a beauty at 27:08.  Once again the fish took either Fox Replicant Lures or Silver Spoons.

So far during these Pike Trials we have boated 30 pike on lures and as the water cools, I think the big fish will feed harder and the fishing could get even better!
Most anglers are anchoring and fishing deadbaits with limited success as I feel the pike are not really hungry yet due to the availability of the baitfish.  After the success of the BLAC Lure Final, where over 250 pike were taken on lures in a day, I am amazed that more anglers havent taken to drifting Chew using lures, rather than sitting it out over 4 deads waiting for the pike to strike?  Still, I suppose it must come down to a lack of confidence in lure fishing or simply the misguided belief that big Chew pike only take deadbaits.

I expect I will also fish deads when it gets too cold to feel my fingers, but until then, I will be casting those lures and trying to cover as much of Chew's 1200 acres as possible!

Trout fishing until 9th November

Although all the boats on Chew are sold out during mid week, there are still weekend flyfishing boats available for trout (or pike)  up till and including Sunday 9th November.  On days when the wind drops I have recently witnessed some excellent buzzer hatches and trout rising to them all day - particularly in the Stratford and Herriots area of the lake.  Dry fly will be the method for these rising trout, with Hoppers, Bobs Bits and Carrot Flies being the best patterns by far.

If the winds stop the trout from rising, then try larger fry imitating lures such as Minkies, Sparklers and the good old Humungous Lure.  A DI3 is the best line to fish these fry patterns and anywhere across the lake is worth a try.  However, with the masses of fry near the landing stages and cages, this has to be a hot spot.  I have had some huge brownies chase my pike lures and also some cracking rainbows - even though they are too big for them to take effectively.

There are also thousands of great perch near the cages and Sailing Club and fly is way better than lures to tempt them.  Last season I had a day on the perch and caught so many I lost count.  My best perch weighed 4:01 and my best double-up was a 3:11 on the point fly with a 3:12 on the dropper!

Birdlife amazing

Recently there have been some great bird sightings on Chew.  An Ospreys has been present for several weeks as a visitor during it's migration to warmer climes.  I have spotted it diving to take roach off the surface several times and it really is an exciting sight.
Last week a Phalarope was present for a few days as was a juvenile Great Skua - I wish that more of those were present because the gulls are scared witless when it is around!  I also saw a Peregrine chasing and bombing ducks on one day, while the Little Egrets are still around and there numbers seem to be growing each year.

Bob Handford retires

After a career with Bristol Water spanning 47 years, Bob Handford finally retired last week.  There was a gathering of many anglers to wish Bob a long and happy retirement, with the BRFFA presenting him with a new fishing rod in recognition for all his dedicated and helpful service to anglers visiting the Bristol Waters over the years.  Bob has been such a helpful person over the years and his presence will be missed.

In the meantime, Bob's assistant Tony Donnelly will take up the reins and will do a great job.  Tony has been assistant fisheries manager now for over 3 years and in that time has made some significant improvements to the fisheries.  I am sure that Tony will fill Bob's boots perfectly and with him, the future of these famous fisheries will be assured.

My 31:08 lure caught Chew pike
John Synnuck with a 21:08 Chew pike
Nigel Snell's 27:08 Chew pike

3rd Place in BLAC Lure Final

On Saturday I joined 59 other finalists for the British Lure Angling Championships Final on Chew Valley Lake.  From a total entry of over 450, the Grand Final was contested by 60 qualifiers and many of them extremely well known lure anglers.

My boat partner was Rado Papiewski from Poland who also works for the Angling Trust, so we would have lots to chat about.  Hopefully with plenty of pike as well. Right from the off, we had agreed not to specifically target the perch - nothing wrong with doing that, but we both felt we wanted to fish for pike.
It rained from the word go, but our spirits were not dampened.

I am not a fan of anchoring so we drifted from the start in deep water by the sailing club where I had recently had pike in 24 to 30 feet of water - and on the fly too!  Rado had the first pike at over 80cms which was a good start.  Then I had two others, with Rado also getting one.  We also lost a few.  However, it soon became clear that the bait fish had moved closer to the shore and the anchored boats in 15 to 18 feet of water were reaping the rewards.  Ben Humber was on fire and had almost filled his sheet with some fantastic perch and several pike by lunchtime.  We needed to move.

Out we went to Nunnery and we both had 2 more pike to the boat and lost 2 others - all in 40 minutes.  Rado hooked a cracking pike of around 20lbs and I quickly grabbed his net and netted it for him - the fish then jumped out of the net and left the lure embedded in the mesh.  "Ah well" said Rado - "these Chew fish dont know when they're beaten". 
"You're gonna need a bigger net in future" was on my mind, but at that point, I thought it best to keep my gob shut!

Then we had to break for lunch prepared for us by the Polish Anglers Club and as I love Polish Sausage, that break was excellent.  It also gave us all time to dry out our soaking wet clothes - a bit!

The afternoon 4 hour session saw the sun come out and the winds rise - never good for fishing on Chew.  Still, we searched out lots of shallow areas and were soon rewarded with plenty of hits and several pike to the boat.  GAME ON!
That session, Rado and I boated another 22 pike up to around the 17lbs mark and also lost at least another 15!  Oh how I hate barbless hooks.

What a session though and I ended with 17 pike and Rado 13.

Ben Humber had not had a great afternoon session and finished in runner up position, while all rounder Steve Collett added another 4 pike to his morning tally of 3, but also added an amazing 40 perch to become the BLAC Lure Champion for 2014.  Steve is a top angler and thoroughly deserved his win.  Ben had the trophy in his grasp, but let it fall away in the afternoon session.  Great angling skills though by a really nice bloke.

Me?  By lunchtime I realised I was out of it, but was determined to persevere chasing the Chew Pike on the drift and was really proud to have landed the most pike caught by the 60 anglers on the day.  My boat partner Rado fished like a "Chew regular" and his 13 pike got him 6th place overall.  Our boat haul of 30 pike was also the best pike catch of the match.

But ultimately it was the event that was the real success, with anglers from all over the UK and many from Poland fishing on what has to be the best lake in Europe.  no less than 222 Pike and 200 Perch were recorded - the biggest pike measured 120cms (approx 35lbs + and not weighed) and was landed by Ben Tregoning, while the best perch measured 50cms and weighed 3lbs 14ozs, although bigger ones were lost.

Julian Chidgey organised the entire event in impecable style, while Andy Ford of SKY TV's Tight Lines ensured the match will feature next week on Sky TV.  Angling Times will also feature the Final in the next issue.  Roll on next year!!!

Top 3 in the BLAC Lure Final on Chew Valley Lake
Rado with a cracking Chew pike
Fish finder showing the massive roach shoals on Chew

BLAC Lure Final on Chew

I am really looking forward to the BLAC Lure Final this coming weekend where 60 qualifiers will battle it out on Chew Valley Lake for the title of 2014 British Lure Anglers Club Lure Champion.  It is the culmination of many Regional Heats across the UK organised by Julian Chidgey and many of the top lure anglers in Europe will be taking part.
The match will also be covered by Sky TV's Tight Lines crew and members of the Angling Press will be present.

Chew has an incredible head of roach and perch fry this year which means there is plenty of food for both the pike and the perch.  Personally, I will not be targetting the perch as I feel the pike are the main quarry and hope that some lucky angler catches a giant fish that will push the record.  What a result that would be!!!
Having hooked and seen some colossal pike over the years, I have no doubt in my mind that the new record fish will come from Chew Valley - it is more a case of "when" than "if".

More crucial that the size of fish however, is that I hope everyone enjoys the Grand Final on Chew; the weather is kind to us and that the camararerie & friendship of competition fishing shines through.

The pike are feeding well now in preparation for the long Winter months ahead.  We have had 13 fish to the boat on my last 2 guided trips and brothers Paul and Raymond Reynolds from Scotland both landed their PB Pike on the fly recently.

Trout fishing

The trout fishing on Chew is now excellent with fish feeding on buzzer and fry.  You might need some larger fry patterns and slow sink lines to target the big rainbows and browns, but it is great fun and a highly imitative way of fishing.  Dry fly will also work for the nymph feeders and the resident fish have started to show again at Stratford, Moreton and Wick Green through to Spring Bay.

Blagdon is a bit harder than Chew right now, but still well worth a visit.  As the days shorten and get cooler, I am sure Blagdon will switch on like it normally does at this time of year.  Once again, dont just opt for nymphs and dries as there are some huge fish waiting to be tempted by some bigger Minky Flies and Fry Patterns.

Raymond's first PB Chew pike
Raymond's second PB Chew pike

Lexus Final this weekend

100 of Europe's top fly anglers will descend on Chew Valley lake this weekend for the Grand Final of the 2014 Lexus European Flyfishing Championships.

Anglers from all over the UK, plus France, Belgium and Norway will fish for the biggest prize in flyfishing - a Lexus RX450 Hybrid SUV, plus loads of other top prizes.

This year, all Heat Winners will compete in the Champion of Champions category to win a fantastic holiday prize; courtesy of Anglers World Holidays.

Co-Sponsors Greys will also supply the top 10 anglers with tackle prizes, and other prizes will be supplied by Ugly Fish Sunglasses and Minox Optics.

Chew is fishing very well at the moment and with good weather forecast for this weekend, the outlook promises to provide some exceptional fishing for all 100 competitors.


See me on Sky TV this Friday

I'm off to Sky TV on Friday to appear with keith Arthur in the "bothy" for another episode of Tight Lines - Sky Sports 4 at 7:00pm.
We will be discussing all things fishing including the recent World Championships in Czech Republic, fishing for pike and trout on Chew and Asp in Sweden.

England win Bronze!

Team England won the Bronze medal in the 34th FIPS Mouche World Championships held in the Czech Republic at the end of May/beginning of June.
The team was Howard Croston, John Tyzack, Phil Dixon, Andrew Scott and myself.  Mike Dixon was reserve and Paul Page the manager.

We fished 3 river sessions on the Vltava River and 2 lake sessions - one from boats and the other from the bank - so it was a true test of all-round fly fishing skills.  All fish counted, so we targetted both trout and grayling, plus roach, chub, dace, perch and pike.  It was quite a championship with over 10,000 fish being caught and returned.

We also had the Individual Bronze medal winner in Andrew Scott, making his debut for England in the World Championships.  Well done Scotty and the rest of the lads.

Chew still fishing well

Both Chew and Blagdon have continued with their scintillating form this season.  Dries and nymphs have been the main methods and the size of the fish have been fantastic.

Pike also starting to feed

My client Cliff hendry had a cracking 25:08 pike on the fly on Chew today.  Yesterday Cliff had a mid double and today followed it up with this beauty.

Team England on the Podium
Me with a decent Chew brownie taken on a dry fly
Cliff Hendry's 25:08 Chew pike


On 11th June Chew Valley Lake will play host to a brand new Pike Fly Fishing Championship.

There are already over 20 competitors entered and it promises to be a great days fishing for both pike and perch.

Entry Fees are just £30 and competitors must pay for their boat fishing fees.

Please contact me by email to book your place in these inaugural Championships.

Lure Qualifier Match

 On Tuesday I fished my first ever lure angling match in a heat of the British Lure Angling Championships held on Chew Valley Lake.
The match was a sell out with 66 anglers hoping to finish in the top 6 and secure their place in the Grand Final, also to be held at Chew Valley Lake on 4th October.

I was drawn with Stephen Bates and we decided to try all over the lake in the hope of discovering some new pike areas that we have not yet found this season on the fly.
Stephen started in great form with a 20lb pike, which measured 95cms.  The match is decided on total length, so weight is not important -only to the anglers!
I soon had a 9lb pike which amazingly measured 78cms and therefore I only needed a jack to beat Stephen's massive fish!

Until then I was treating the day as a pleasure day, but my competition mentality kicked in and we decided to do our best to both finish with respectable scores.  The field of anglers was very experienced and a top 6 place would be hard to achieve!

We decided to target the deeper water where there often are plenty of jacks - so having spent several hours in pursuit of big fish, we changed our tactics.  Off to the Woodford bank and fishing in 24 feet of water, we fished painfully slowly with Fox Replicant Lures to prise out 4 more fish for me and 2 more for Stephen.  Now during the last couple of hours, I lost at least 5 pike during play, but Stephen could have walked the match with the number of pike he lost - frequently right by the net as well!!

To cut a long story short, my total length of 303cms was sufficient to earn me 2nd place overall and Stephen also qualified, so we were both very happy anglers.  My final fish came on my very last cast and without it I would not have qualified!  

Roll on the Grand Final.  I am really going to take this match seriously from now on as it is a great event, expertly organised by Julian Chidgey.

Stephen Bates 20lb lure caught pike
My biggest pike on the day

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