Chew Valley Lake

2 days of magic on Chew!

Five 20lb Pike in a day!!!

On Friday I guided Julian Campbell and Steve Oakley to some of the best pike on the fly I have ever witnessed - in fact; it was the best!  They had 5 pike - all of which were over 20lbs - before 2:30pm.  After that, the rain poured down on us, the temperature plummetted and the pike went completely off the feed.

I have had many days with multiple catches of 20lb pike - some over 30lbs, but NEVER a day, when the first 5 fish to the boat all weighed in excess of 20lbs.  With the Chew Valley Pike Trials looming, I bet no boats will equal this feat.

Steve started the day with a personal best pike of 24lbs 12ozs - the best pike he has ever caught on any method - let alone a fly!  Then Julian followed it up with another PB of 20lbs 4ozs.  Soon after, Julian had another PB weighing 23lbs 12ozs - amazing!

Steve then had fish of 22lbs 12ozs and 23lbs 3ozs to add to this incredible total weight of 114lbs 11ozs.

This superb bag of pike now means we have had no less than 10 pike over 20lbs in my last 3 guided days - and we have had plenty of other doubles and jacks.


13 Rainbows for 39lbs!!!

Today (Saturday), I fished with my good friend Barry Hawyes on a mixed day for trout and pike.  The weather was bright and calm, as opposed to wet and windy yesterday, so we started with dries, but didn't get an offer.  Off came the dries, on went the nymphs and along the reeds off East Shore, my first 2 trout both weighed exactly 5lbs each - my biggest fish of the season!

Barry then landed a 4lb 2oz rainbow and during the course of the day, we boated 13 rainbows for a cracking weight of 39lbs.  The big fish fed in the morning and the slightly smaller fish during the afternoon.  All were full of shrimp, hoglice, daphnia and bloodworm.

The best areas are East Shore, Spring Bay, around Denny Island, the reeds off Wick Green and along the Woodford Bank.

Having spent 4 days at Bewl for the National and 3 days at Rutland for the AWA Final, I am so pleased to be back at Chew catching what is without any doubt; the best quality trout in the country!

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

Chew overflowing in July!!!!

It's now the 8th July - mid Summer - and Chew Valley Lake is completely full, overflowing, with plenty of extra water still gushing in from the Nature reserve at Herriots.

I drove over to the lake today and photograghed both sides of the equation - dirty water pouring in and amazing amounts flowing out - more like a waterfall than a spillway!

It's hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago, we were in the midst of a drought and a hosepipe ban.

Blagdon Lake is also overflowing and I cannot find anyone who works for Bristol Water that has ever witnessed such high water levels at this time of the year.  I actually think that conditions are more akin to early April rather than early July.  The trout are feeding on bottom dwelling insects such as shrimp, hoglice and bloodworm - frequently close to the shorelines.  However, in the evenings they come up and sometimes feed on buzzer or sedge, the latter being very unusual.

Yet in the daytime, most fish are caught close to the surface using nymphs, blobs and boobies using floating or intermediate lines.

Whenever the winds are light, the fishing is superb, particularly in the corners of the dam, off Stratford and Moreton Banks, all across Herriots and off the reeds near Wick Green.

Herriots Nature Reserve where the water pours in
The Chew Spillway
Millions of gallons of water heading back into the River Chew

Will this rain never end?

Between the storms, the fishing on Chew last week was excellent - lots of incredibly hard fighting trout taking mainly Diawl bachs and Crunchers, with not a blob in sight!I   I fished with Jim and Becky Houlihan and Becky, who was boat fishing for just the 2nd time, hooked plenty of trout and landed a couple.  Jim joined us later in the afternoon and knocked out half a dozen near the Dam.

I have just been away to Eyebrook and Pitsford, running 3 consecutive days of Lexus Heats.  Last Sunday, I also ran a floating lines only heat at Chew Valley.
Every day we have had rain and all the reservoirs are now full to overflowing - Chew is overflowing at a rate of knots, as is Blagdon.

Thankfully, the fishing is very good everywhere at the moment, so long as we don't get gusty winds and driving rain - even the fish hate those conditions!

The extra water has certainly suppressed the weed growth on Chew and as a result, trout can still be caught over at Herriots, Startford and along the reedbeds off Wick Green - normally all these areas are choked with weed by this time of the year and the trout avoid them like the plague.

At the Lexus Heat on Chew last Sunday, winner Paul Roach entered his grand daughter into the event.  10 year old Daisy Bristow braved the cold wind and frequent storms to weigh-in 3 rainbows and win herself a special prize as the youngest ever competitor in a Lexus Heat!

The Chew Valley pike have been conspicuous by their absence so far this season - probably due to very late spawning and the millions of gallons of fresh, dirty cold water that has poured into the lake.  They have to feed soon however and I am out for them over the next few days with clients, so I am hoping for some decent results.

Apparently the pike at Pitsford and Ravensthorpe have also been reluctant to feed this season, so it appears it is a trend across the country. 

Becky with a cracking Chew rainbow
10 yr old Daisy with the Lexus qualifiers from Chew

England Qualifier on Chew

Yesterday I fished my England Qualifier on Chew and happily qualified in 2nd place with 7 trout, but boy has it been hard these last 3 days!
Just 5 days ago, we were all discussing it being a lottery, as you needed at least 6 fish over 3lbs in your bag of 8 to make a decent total.  Then came 3 days of gale force winds and torrential rain, which completely put the resident stock of Chew rainbows right off the feed.  By yesterday's match, we were all hoping to save the blank!

We made the draw for boat partners an hour before the match and I drew my England Team mate Iain Barr - this was not going to be a quiet day.  As Barney had not been able to practice, I gave him a full run-down of the 2 days practice I had endured for a total of just 2 trout!  But I did have a few places lined up and our decision was to start the day pulling a combination of lures and nymphs on DI3 sinking lines.

The corner of the dam had produced a few takes for me the previous day, rather than follows from other parts of the lake.  We started there and then never left the area.  Iain and I had a fish each within the first 30 mninutes, but any follows we had were right in the surface, so we felt we needed to switch to slower sinking lines.  I changed to a Fast Glass and Barney put on a midge Tip - and got one first cast.  I got 2 more on the glass line and a double sparkler on the point.

Those fish fought as hard as any I have caught on Chew and at one stage, Barney got his landing net out and netted one for me - then he did it again.  What a cracking thing to do for your boat partner - and this is the sort of thing competition anglers do for one another - thanks mate!

I ended up with 7 fish and came 2nd, while Barney got 4 and also qualified in 6th place - a perfect result.

John Gumbleton fished like a hero and was the only angler to take his 8 fish limit, while Keith Gollop came 3rd, Mark Miles 4th, Andy Croucher 5th, Tony George 7th and Mark Withyman 8th.

The National is at Bewl Water in Kent during September, where 100 qualifiers will battle it out for the 28 places in next year's 2 Loch Style Teams.

What a difference a day makes ......

Today the weather changed for the better - light winds, warm air temperatures and even some sunshine.  The fish responded by feeding properly again and my 2 guests Anthony and John Tabor had 10 cracking rainbows and hooked and lost at least another 10!

Dad John had an 8lb pike on a sparkler booby one cast, then a 3lb trout on a diawl bach nymph next cast.  It was a case of sunscreen and nymph feeders, rather than full waterproofs and lure bashing!

If we get a period of settled weather now, the fishing will revert to it's usual fantastic self - with plenty of massive fish to target. 

Lexus Heat at Chew on Sunday 1st July

I am running a Lexus Floating Line Only Heat on Sunday at Chew and expect the fishing to be excellent.

There are still places available at this Heat, so drop me an email and get your name down for it - you won't be disappointed.

Bryan Brown enjoying Midsummers Day on Chew!
First an 8lb pike for John Tabor
Next cast a 3lb rainbow for John

Huge rainbows on Chew Valley

Today I fished with my long time client and great friend Barry Hawyes.  We had planned a pike day, but they have been so difficult to tempt recently, we decided to fish for trout first.

The day was very sunny and windier than forecast - now when have I heard that before?!  Still, at least it was warm and I only had 3 layers of clothing on instead of the usual 6 or 7!

First drift we had nothing.  Then next drift off Stratford, Barry had a cracking 4lb rainbow.  Soon I followed suit with a 4lb 12oz 'bow.  Both fish were absolutely stuffed with small green buzzer and big black buzzers.  Some even had damsels - which for Chew, is most unusual.

Things were hard across the lake, with no pike being caught and very few trout - also, the wind had increased in strength, which on Chew, is always the kiss of death. But we plugged away with our Diawl Bach Nymphs, Buzzers and Orange Blobs (top dropper) on 18 foot leaders and floating fly lines.  Every hour or so, we got a take - sometimes just a mere movement of fly line, but at other times, a finger wrenching pull!  Steadily we built a bag and every one was a cracker - fin perfect and fighting like fury.

By the end of the day, we had 7 rainbows to the boat, weighing an incredible 26lbs 4ozs.

If you are thinking of getting onto the water after all this cold, wet and windy weather, I suggest you get a boat on Chew and head for Stratford - the fish are fantastic!

World Championships

In a few days I will be heading off to Slovenia with Team England for the FIPS Mouche World Fly Fishing Championships.  As usual, the event will be dominated by river fishing, as most countries competing cannot handle fishing lakes!

We will be fishing 4 river sessions and a solitary lake session.

Our team is Howard Croston, Phil Dixon, Simon Robinson, John Tyzaqck and myself, with Scott Nellins as reserve.  Paul Page will manage the World team for the first time.


Barry Hawyes with 4lb Rainbow
My best fish of the season so far - 4lb 12ozs

Big Trout, Rare Birds and sunshine!

On Saturday I guided 4 good friends and clients to 26 trout between them at an average weight of over 3lbs per fish.
Herriots was the top area and Diawl Bach Nymphs and Buzzers using floating lines was the winning method.

So far this season, April and May have been cold months, with high winds and up to 7 - yes 7, layers of clothing!

I have heard a cuckoo in Ireland and at Grafham Water, but so far, not at Chew Valley.  But our bird watching rose to unprecedented heights, when we watched a Marsh Harrier quartering above the reeds and trees along Stratford Bank - what a graceful bird - very dark brown with a golden head and enormous wingspan - just the 3rd such sighting I have ever witnessed.

Later that afternoon, a pair of Hobbies flew overhead toward their nest sight - then an Osprey also flew above us, constantly being mobbed by a herring gull.

We were discussing how rare it was to see 3 such rare birds of prey in a single afternoon, so I rang my mate Martin Cottis to tell him.  He told me he was watching a really strange bird in the middle of the lake, so as it was time to pack up, we headed out to see what it was.  A Pomerine Skua - pretty well off it's migratory course and having a rest on the water.  What a day for fish ..... and birds.

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

Massive rains fill Chew and Blagdon

March and the beginning of April saw beautiful sunny days, gin clear water and the trout feeding with a vengeance on both Chew and Blagdon.
April and early May however has seen unprecedented levels of rainfall fill both lakes to capacity.
Litton is full and overflowing, with a current running through the lower lake!

I have never witnessed the lakes rise so quickly and at Blagdon, the sound of the water pouring over the bywash could be heard clearly from Blagdon Fishing Lodge.



Chew was coloured in many areas last week, as a combination of strong winds and rising water levels.  Thankfully, most of the colour has now dropped out and the fishing is beginning to improve.

Blagdon was dirty at the Top End where the River Yeo flows in, but the rest of the lake was clear.  I fished Blagdon for 3 consecutive days last week and we caught some superb rainbows - mainly from Polish Water and Green Lawns, although the bank anglers were catching well off Ash Trees, Pegs Point and Orchard Bay.  The fish were very high ikn the water and we casught on floating lines with either straight nymphs, or washing line with a black booby on the point.  Buzzers and Diawl Bachs were the top flies.

All 3 days were cold and at times I wore 6 layers!  When the winds dropped and the air temperature rose; the fishing improved instantly.  It was certainly more akin to early April conditions than early May! At lunchtime we had to light the fire in the Lodge to get warm!

Thomas, one of my guests at Blagdon last week, caught his 8 fish limit on only his 4th fly fishing trip.  His bag included 4 fish over 3lbs and they all are now fighting like demons.

I have not heard a Cuckoo on Chew or Blagdon yet, but did hear one at Grafham Last week and one in Ireland the previous week.  The swifts have now joined the house martins, swallows and sand martins on both lakes.  Ospreys have also been sighted, but sadly; not by me.  There are loads of ravens in the valley nowadays and they are true aerial gymnasts.

Pike hard to find.

I have had several guided trips for pike on Chew, but apart from John Synnuck's 8 pounder, we simply cannot get them on the feed.  Every time it looks like they will feed, the weather changes for the worst and nowt happens!

My best weighed 10lbs but took a diawl bach nymph while fishing for trout!

Still, I am out every day this week on Chew, so I am hoping things will now improve.  It was amazing seeing an Albino Pike under my boat earlier this season and when the water was crystal clear, I saw some real giants.

There have also been very few spawning mortalities this season, which is unusual.

Grafham boat damage.

It seems every major reservoir is having a tough time of it this season.  Rutland have been pumping full bore to get the levels up - that brings dirty water and difficult fishing.  Bewl has been incredibly low and is now pumping from the Medway. 

I was at Grafham last week running a Lexus Team Heat - the previous day, we had to call-off the Individual Heat due to high winds!  8 boats suffered damage that day and they were INSIDE the confines of the harbour walls!


Thomas with the best rainbow in his 1st Blagdon limit bag
A full-to-the-brim Blagdon Lake
Chew Valley at full levels today (Monday)

Scintillating sport on the Bristol Waters!

Both Chew Valley and Blagdon Lakes have had their best opening spells for years.  Hot, sunny weather and cloudless blue skies helped the trout to feed with a real frenzy on buzzers, bloodworm, daphnia and even corixa.

Floating lines and nymphs have been the best tactics on both lakes.  Diawl Bachs, Crunchers, Stripped Quill Buzzers and Orange Headed Pheasant Tails taking scores of fish - many of which are over 3lbs average weight. 

A couple of days ago, Mike Brown and I were on Chew and we both hooked rainbows on buzzers that already had someone else's buzzers in their mouths.  My advice is to use strong Fluorocarbon at the moment, such as 9lb Hardy Mach or Rio Fluoroflex.  It is pointless using weaker tippet at the moment and with the incredible water clarity, it has not made any difference to my catch rate.

The clarity on Chew is the best I have ever witnessed - over 15 feet in places and in the bright conditions, this has driven the fish into deeper water, making it harder for the bank anglers.  However, last Saturday and Monday, the clouds returned and the fish instantly moved back into the shallower water and the bank anglers filled their proverbial boots!

The sand martins returned on Saturday and for those fishing behind Denny Island, the sound of the ravens as they mobbed the buzzards; was fantastic.

Sadly, all good things come to an end and I suspect the weather has taken a turn for the worst - but I am convinced the fishing will remain excellent on both lakes.

Mike Brown with a Herons Green rainbow
Two Buzzers in my trout!
Fraser Duffy with another sunny Chew rainbow

Chew Valley opens in style.

Beautiful weather, gin-clear water and plenty of feeding trout made the first few days of the season truly memorable on Chew Valley Lake.
For the second year in a row, the sun shone all day and the wind never rose above a light breeze, helping the trout to feed hard on daphnia, bloodworm, buzzer and corixa.

Most boat anglers fished floating lines and nymphs, although some used sinking lines in the deeper water with lures and boobies to tempt the daphnia feeders.

The boat anglers certainly had the best of the sport as the bright skies kept the fish feeding in the deeper water.  East Shore, the Spit off Denny Island and Herons Green were the best boat fishing areas, while Wick Green produced plenty of limit bags from the bank.

The pike have proved more elusive however and this is probably to do with the bright skies and crystal clear water.  I have had a few jacks to the boat and have seen several decent fish follow the fly, but turn away at the last moment.

Today the lake was flat calm for several hours and in this time, I witnessed dozens of trout rising to buzzers.  Oh how I wished I had a trout rod with me today!

Still, out again tomorrow and the rest of this week, so plenty of opportunities to take a few fish "off the top"!

Blagdon opens in just 3 days!

This Friday sees Blagdon Lake open it's very large "doors" for a new season.  I went to the Lake today and am glad to report that it is only 2 feet off top level - last December it was only half full!
All the rainbows are now stocked into Blagdon and there should be a good head of overwintered rainbows and browns to supplement the new stock fish.

If last year is anything to go by, the main tactics ought to be Nymphs and Gold Heads fished on Floating Lines, which seems to be the norm nowadays.

Chew Valley opens a week later on 23rd March and levels there are similar, with about a couple of feet to go.

Some Boats still available with me for early season.

Although I am booked from opening day on Blagdon until Tuesday, that means I still have 2 days free next week.

Once Chew opens, I am booked every day until 31st March, but still have Sunday 25th March and Sunday 1st April free if you fancy an early season foray onto either lake.

Tight Lines on Sky last Friday

Last Friday's Tight Lines show with Keith Arthur was really enjoyable.  One of the segments was a short film of my visit to the Cayman Islands before Christmas and the remainder of the show was spent discussing trout and pike fly tactics on both large or small stillwaters.

17 year old up-and-coming trout competition star Sam Edmonds has already been featured on the show fishing Grafham for pike and zander.  Sam and his parents visited the studio and met all the cast and crew.

To download the free Pod Cast, simply go to,20494,19916,00.html

Cayman Islands article in this month's Trout Fisherman Magazine

For more information on the Cayman Islands, why not buy this month's edition of Trout Fisherman Magazine? 
Issue 429 carries my feature, pics and flies, showing how to fish for Bonefish, tarpon and a host of other species on this beautiful, paradise island.

South West England Qualifier - Chew Valley - Sun 24th June

More details to come soon, but put the date in your diary if you're keen to fly fish for England.

Chew's current levels
JH, Keith Arthur, Caroline, Gary and Sam Edmonds in the Tight Lines Studio

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