Chew Valley Lake

Summer arrives - at last!

 This last week has been incredibly hot.  7 days ago I was wearing a coat, leggins and fleece - hung my leggins out to dry in the morning and during the afternoon the sun came out and dried them nicely.  since then, it's just got hotter and hotter.

Chew has been baked in sunshine, but that vile wind wont leave us alone - some days it gusted to 20mph - and fish simply hate those conditions.  The trout have put up with it though and washing line tactics in the Dam area has still produced lots of good fish, including a cracking overwintered brownie for one of my guests, Oliver Goldrick.

Behind Denny I have found some good fish feeding deep on hoglice and a long leader with Diawl Bach nymphs has proved successful on a number of days.

The grown-on fish along the reedbeds have been harder to tempt and the gin clear water, combined with bright sunshine has, I fear, driven them to slightly deeper water - but they'll be back.

The daphnia is incredible in lots of areas on Chew and in the sunshine it always comes closer to the surface - NOT the other way round.


The pike are still proving hard to locate and I have found myself roving all over the lake to pick up fish.  Kiwi visiting angler Dave Leathwick caught his PB last week with me weighing over 12lbs and in two days we boated 6 including 3 doubles - and we also lost a big fish.

The weedbeds are holding incredible numbers of roach and perch fry and I believe the pike are feeding on them, so hopefully with a bit of cloud they will move out into the open water.  Small fish need to feed on the daphnia and that is not amongst the weed, so when they venture out, I'll be waiting for them!

Dave Leathwick playing a pike on Chew
Dave with his PB pike
Oliver Goldrick's Chew Brownie

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

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

Cold but still catching!

 Well, we all know it's been another freezing cold week.  I fished today and it was officially the COLDEST APRIL DAY IN 60 YEARS!!! And it felt like it too.

Yesterday I guided John Synnuck and Neil Leaver on Chew in similar North Easterly winds, gusting at times to around 20 mph.  But the main difference was the sun - it shone all day and took the chill out of the normal wind chill factor.

North Shore, False Island and Denny Island have been the best areas, but the strong, biting cold East to North East winds have stopped anyone-  with any sense-  fishing anywhere but at the top of the wind.  So in effect, 90% of Chew Valley lake hasnt seen a fly this season!

John and Neil caught 12 rainbows weighing 33lbs, including 1 overwintered fish.  All had daphnia in them apart from the grown-on fish which had Hoglice and a few Shrimp.  Black Lures, Black Boobies and Coral Boobies fished on either Floating or DI5 Lines took most of the fish.

On Tuesday I fished with Bryan Brown and we had 8 trout apiece, including my best of the season at 6lbs 4ozs - another overwintered fish.  Once again, that fish had been feasting on Hoglice and Shrimp, whereas the others had daphnia and all took Black Lures or Black Diawl Bach Nymphs.

I've recently been putting my new Hardy Ultralite CLS Reels through their paces - and the new locking system for the spare spools.  They are fantastic and a big improvement on my old Demon Reels - and they were damned good!

It looks like the winds will be dropping on Saturday and over the weekend, but next week will start cold and get warmer as the week progresses - which will then turn wet!  I hope not.

Lexus Heat at Rutland

On Sunday I am running the first Lexus Individual Heat at Rutland Water - PLACES ARE STILL AVAILABLE - Email to book a place.

The Team Heat is on Monday at Rutland and you can still enter a team of 6 anglers.  Simply email the above address.

My 6lb 4oz Chew Rainbow
Bryan Brown playing a fish off the False Island
John Synnuck with another decent Chew Rainbow

John Synnuck's 28lb Pike

 Last Monday John Synnuck and I fished the 1st day of Chew Valley Pike Trials and landed pike of 28lbs and 21lbs 4ozs, plus 2 other doubles and a couple of cracking rainbow trout!
The weather had threatened to cancel all boats due to high winds, but thankfully Chew was fishable all week as the high gusts never materialised.  It was however, very cold and pretty windy, making drifting with lures almost impossible.  So it was reluctantly a time to sit it out with deadbaits and our first fish of the day weighed a creditable 21:04 and fell to my rod.  John soon followed that up with his PB Chew Pike that weighed exactly 28lbs.
We also had a couple of doubles and another at 7lbs with a Tag.  I checked my records and John Synnuck caught that fish with me in October and it weighed 6:12.  Then an hour later that October day, I caught it again!  Amazingly, when I was out the next day, we caught 5 more pike and one of them was that very same fish - complete with Tag!

Overwintering Trout

On the Monday, John and I boated rainbow trout of 3lbs and 5lbs - both took mackerel and were released unharmed.
The next day, my clients landed 3 cracking rainbows; 4lbs, 6:08 and 7:08.  Once again, all went back unharmed and all were extremely fat and fighting fit.

This really bodes well for the coming trout fishing season as it proves the trout are overwintering well on the rich pickings of hoglice and shrimp.

Pike again on Monday

The weather looks set to be fairly calm and a bit warmer for this 2nd set of Chew Pike Trials which begin on Monday.
I am due to be there and am expecting to fish lures on the drift.

Hardly anyone has fished lures during the 1st set of Trials, so it is possible we might find some decent pike well away from where the bait fishers are anchoring.

John Synnuck's 28lb Pike
My 21lb 4oz Pike
A full Chew Valley Lake

New Season only days away!!!!!

 The 2013 season is just a few days away when Chew Valley Lake will open for the Spring Session of Pike Trials.
Thanks to constant rain and recent snow melt, both Chew and Blagdon are still overflowing.  Due to the increased water coming into the lakes, the colour of the water is dirty near to the inlets.  Recent heavy winds have also stirred the water up, but today it is calm and most of that sediment will fine down and clear. 

The dirtiest parts of Chew are in the "out of bounds" areas and the majority of the lake is easily fishable.  What we do not want is more windy weather, so its "fingers crossed" for some settled conditions.

A few years ago I fished a Spring Trials when the whole of Chew was chocolate brown.  You could put your hand into the water and not see your finger tips - it was that coloured!  Amazingly, that was one of my best trials ever for lure fishing.  The majority of boats were doing what they normally do - anchor-up and watch floats all day.  But I watched Bob Jones and Pete Climo as they fished lures on the drift and land a couple of crackers early doors, so decided to copy their lure fishing tactic - and boy did it work!  You could'nt fish those lures fast enough as the pike were whipped into a frenzy by the vibration of the lures.

Lets hope that these trials are productive - I really enjoyed the Autumn Trials, especially when my client Peter Mersh got the best fish of those sessions at 35lbs 5ozs!
Some people were having the usual moan as it was a bit harder than usual, but hey, what do they expect?  It cant be easy all the time and Chew being full to overflowing for most of the season is something none of us have ever witnessed.

I am expecting the pike to be well spread at the moment, as there is water in some of the margins that has never reached there before!  It should be a great season for both trout and pike and I for one cannot wait to get cracking again.

Tight Lines for 2013!

Herriots in the snow
Herons Green

Flooding affects Chew Valley

The recent spell of wet and stormy weather has had an unprecedented impact on the Chew Valley.
One person has died in the nearby village of Chew Stoke, when his 4 x 4 vehicle was washed away in floods close to the lake.

Travelling throughout the West Country has been hazardous due to the floods and all pike boats were cancelled on Chew today.

Chew Valley Lake is overflowing at an alarming rate (see pic below), adding even more water to the local River Chew.  The inlet at Herriott's Nature Reserve is flooded and dirty brown water is entering the lake in huge proportions.  Chew itself is chocolate brown in colour - not just due to the rainfall, but also due to gale force winds that stirred-up the lake's silt deposits.  It will only take a day or so of calm conditions for the sediment to settle, but with more rain and high winds forecast; the outlook is not looking good!

The final 6 day session of pike trials was due to start today.  Please ring the Fishing Lodge on 01275 332339 to check if the lake is due to be open if you have a boat this week.

Chew valley Lake spillway
Water coming into Herons Green
Herriott's Inlet

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

Tarrant gets a double on Chew

On Tuesday I fished with Chris Tarrant and Martin Founds for pike on Chew in the 3rd session of Autumn Pike Trials.
We had decent weather for the time of year and managed 8 runs, but only 4 pike in the boat, the biggest of which weighed 14lbs and was caught by Martin - see photo below.

CT also managed a low double and another smaller fish.  The day was full of laughs and stories as usual.  CT was on good form but sadly not able to add to his 30lb+ PB from Chew several years ago!

I am out again on Saturday and am hoping that the winds stay low and even drop away altogether - in my experience, this is when the biggest fish come out to play!  Anglers in general don't like flat calms - either fly or coarse - but there is no doubt in my mind that fish love these conditions.  The way I look at things; if fish are feeding and we aren't good enough to catch them, then that is our fault - not the fish and certainly not the weather!

I fished for pike last Saturday using flies and managed 2 fish - the biggest weighing 15lbs.  However, I lost bigger fish earlier in the day and thought at one stage that my fingers would drop off following a storm of rain that chilled me to the bone!

Thankfully the sun came out later in the morning and warmed things up again and got the pike active for short periods.

Martin Founds and Chris Tarrant on Chew
Me looking freezing on Saturday with my 15lb Pike

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