Personal Bests flourish!

It's always a red letter day when someone catches their Personal Best fish on a fly, but when that man happens to be the Chairman of the PAC - it's even better!
John Synnuck has caught far bigger fish around the Globe than I have, but earlier this week, he recorded yet another milestone with a 21lb 4oz pike on the fly - and he's only been fly fishing seriously for about a year!

John has actually had plenty of doubles on the fly from Chew, but somehow the big girls have evaded him - but not any more.

I was fishing with John early last season when my 30 pounder gave me a present that required 4 stitches, so between us we now compare scars!  Well done John, I fully expect you now to crank up the weights and look forward to our next trip.

Chew and Blagdon flying!

Now that the winds have dropped, both Chew and Blagdon are fishing brilliantly again right on the top.  Surface rising fish have appeared as if by magic now that the conditions have improved and dry flies are working well - at last!

Blagdon has massive trout working the marginal weedbeds along the South shore and Denny Island keeps producing the goods on Chew Valley.  Yesterday on Chew, trout moved into the Moreton bank area for the first time in weeks and fish could be seen dimpling all across the middle of the lake.

Right in front the Lodge on Blagdon is an area where moving trout can be found and boy are they big!  Make sure you have some strong tippet material if you fish either lake in the coming weeks!

Draycote's form continues

If you fancy a late season competition day, then why not try the Lexus Heat at Draycote Water near Rugby.  For weeks now, Draycote has produced masses of huge fish since re-opening following a year's closure. 

On 31st July the final Heat of the Lexus European Flyfishing Championships will be held on Draycote Water and already, 22 of the 30 places have been sold.
If you fancy a crack at these super-trout and a chance to qualify for the Lexus Grand Final at Chew on 18th August, then drop me an email at lexus@johnhorsey.co.uk 

John Synnucks PB on the fly at 21.04

New Lexus Heat added at Draycote on 31st July.

Due to popular demand, Draycote water near Rugby has been added as the final Qualifying Heat of this year's Lexus individual Championships.
The Heat will be held on 31st July and there are 30 places up for grabs.

New Fisheries manager Craig Barr has had his local anglers asking if there will be a lexus Heat on the venue, following the year's closure by Severn Trent and this has prompted the creation of an additional Heat.

I too have had competitors contacting me to ask for a Heat at this very popular venue, particularly following it's recent stunning form, where 00's of 3lb plus rainbows have been caught.

To enter, simply email lexus@johnhorsey.co.uk or download an Entry Form from the official Website at www.lexusflyfishing.co.uk

Tony gets his PB pike

Congratulations to Tony Bennett and the capture of his personal best ever pike on the fly weighing 28lbs at Chew last week.
I fished with Tony a few days earlier and he was snapped by a big fish which we were certain would have been his personal best.

Still, he made up for it in real style on his very next trip and I am sure his new aim is one of Chew's legendary 30 pounders!

Tagged pike

If you are fishing for pike - or trout - please look out for tags on the base of the dorsal fin.  They can be covered in algae and even have some weed growth attached, but they are quite easy to detect (once you know where to look).
I have tagged over 400 pike and am getting over 10% recaptures - no longer do we have to rely upon faded photograghs and hearsay to know if someone has caught the same fish - we can be certain!

So far, the average growth rate for a year is no more than 2lbs - even for big doubles and twenty pounders.  This has surprised even me, as I feel sure they are predating mainly on roach and perch.  Last week I had a 22lb fish which I caught myself just over a year ago and it had actually lost 2.5lbs.

I've included a pic of the above-mentioned 22lb fish, with the tag position clearly shown.  Note the bite mark across it's back which extended to the other side as well (would like to catch that big mother soon)!  So please log any tagged fish you catch with the weight, date of capture and area caught on the lake.  That way, we can build up a picture of recapture rates, distribution and weight increase/loss and have some real evidence on which to base our findings, rather than just the usual speculative nonsense!  So far, my findings are pointing to normal annual increases in weight and definitely not those associated with pike predating on 2lb average size rainbows.

Awful weather continues

I was hoping that once the terrible winds that battered us in May and June had subsided, July would bring a return to settled weather - sadly this has not happened.  I have just returned from Stocks Fly Fishery near Blackburn and the fishing was tricky - average rod returns from 3 sell-out days were less than 4 per rod and this is a very good and productive venue.  It is also superbly managed by Ben Dobson and his staff Matt, Paul and Tom.

Some of my friends have also just returned from Rutland Water where they were fishing in competitions and they told me that the fishing there was rock-hard.

Chew has also been "iffy" of late, but was just starting to improve again before I left for Stocks.  A big stocking seemed necessary to liven things up a bit and that happened 4 days ago.  Hopefully this will get the resident fish feeding, most of whom are still being caught around or behind Denny Island.
Washing Line or straight-lined nymphs are still the best 2 methods - I simply cannot get the fish up to dries at the moment - even last week when there was a massive fall of flying ants; they seemed very loathe to rise.

I think this is due to the fluctuating air pressures surrounding not just Chew, but the rest of the country at present.  Next week more unsettled weather is forecast, but at least that means cloud.


I have often said that there hasn't been a decent book on fly fishing for trout written since the Pursuit of Srtillwater Trout, written some 20 odd years ago.
Well now there is one!

A Passion for Trout is a fine book written by Irish angler Mick O'Farrell with photograghs and publishing by top fishing photographer Peter Gathercole.

Mick is a life-long trout angler, fly tier and genuine nice bloke - he is also a very fine competiton angler who genuinely knows his stuff.  I have fished with and against Mick in competitions such as the European Championships, where we were both representing our countries.

The flies are superbly photographed - so often a fault in other fishing books.  Gathercole excels here and the patterns are truly up-to-date, incorporating the latest materials.

This book will become a reference tome for many and a "must have" addition to any serious fly angler's book case!



22lb pike with tag in dorsal - note the bite mark from another pike!
Stocks Fly Fishery

The winds they are a-dropping ........

At long last the winds have dropped.  Six weeks of ever-changing wind directions, gusts over 30mph and Autumn temperatures have made way for light breezes, warm air temperatures and settled weather.

Yesterday on Chew there was a Bristol water Teams competition and factor 30 sunscreen was high on the agenda.

I fished with Barry Hawyes and we boated some cracking rainbows drifting off Denny Island and the False Island.  Loads of fin perfect, bright silver rainbows were taken during the competition and I have to say, this year's rainbows are the hardest fighting trout I have ever caught outside of New Zealand!

On Saturday, I guided 4 anglers for trout and although we had flat calm conditions and bright sunshine, changing into sun and wind (normally the kiss of death for fly fishing on Chew) we had 20 trout that would have tested the terminal tackle of even sea anglers.

But for 3 days last week, I guided for pike on the fly with some very experienced pike anglers who were pretty new to the Chew Valley pike on the fly.  All caught their personal best fish on the fly - Andy Perks had a 19lb 4oz fish, while Trev Simpson had a 23lb 4oz specimen and Alec Mason followed that up with 6 doubles and a 20lb 4oz cracker.

All the pike we caught came from Stratford Bank - probably 3/4 mile from the best trout area which is behind and in front of Denny Island.  I watched several pike chasing roach across the top - and to the unobservant eyes, these could quite easily have been mistaken for small trout - take it from me, there are no small trout on Chew this season!

Striking into a 17lb fish this week, I strained the tendons in my right arm and now have tennis elbow, so casting left handed has become the norm for me.  Never done it before, but in order for my right arm to rest, I have made the effort.  Both my right and left ears have taken a pasting from size 6/0 hooks, but fortunately I debarb all my flies for pike and no serious damage has occurred.

It seems that at long last, the trout and pike anglers are now living in harmony - trout feeding on one side of the lake and pike feeding on the other.  As the weedbeds become more extensive on Chew, I expect the trout to avoid these areas as they did last season.  The roach fry on the other hand, will almost certainly live close to these areas and keep the pike hunting well away from the trout - just like last season in fact.

Whether you fancy fly fishing for trout or pike, my advice to you is to get to Chew as soon as possible and experience for yourself just how fantastic the fishing is this season.  All the best for now .....

Andy Perks PB 19.04 from Chew on the fly
Trev Simpson's PB fly caught 23 pounder from Chew
Alec Mason's PB 20 pounder from Chew on the fly

More amazing action on Chew

It seemed like the whole of May was blighted by strong, cold winds, so I for one am pleased we are now into a new month.
June is traditionally one of the best months on the Bristol Waters, but it'll have a hard act to follow the sport and weather we had in March and April!  Perhaps the seasons really are changing.

Despite the windy weather, we still had great fishing at times, especially on Chew.  Last week, 2 of my clients; Michael Ruthven and Bill Tucker, enjoyed their best ever morning session in Herons Green, with both anglers taking limit bags before 2:00pm using teams of Diawl Bachs and Buzzers.  Plenty of boats drifted by, just catching the odd fish, while Bill and Michael frequently had fish on at the same time.  Speed of retireve was critical - nice and slow, with floating lines - not midge tips.

Behind Denny Island has been the best area recently and we have taken fish in just 2 feet of murky water - amazing!  The rainbows are fighting harder than I can ever remember and good quality Hardy Mach or Rio Fluorocarbon in 8lb BS is essential.  Avoid the finer diameter fluoro's as they simply cannot cope with the savage nature of the Chew Trout at the moment - the knot strength is not good enough.  I wish I had a pound for everyone that has told me their expensive fine diameter fluoro has broken lately!

The trout are now moving around from Denny Island and the spit off Denny is starting to produce good bags of fish for the first time this season.

Weed growth and water levels.

Chew is about 5 feet down and the weed growth is already prolific over the Roman Shallows, Herriots and Nunnery Spit.  Strangely enough, the shallow bays by Hollowbrook and Herons Green are not infested yet and the trout are feeding avidly there on either bloodworm or huge black buzzer. 

Trout on the major reservoirs appear to hate weed with a vengeance and I never find them feeding or even swimming- around it.  Sometimes they feed on the edge of weedbeds, but even that is severely limited.  If the weedbeds get as dense as last year, then I fully expect the rainbows to leave those areas and populate the non weedy places - areas such as Whalley Bank, Woodford Bank, part of Villice and the Sailing Club - in fact, exactly the areas they could be found in huge numbers last season.  These places have very hard clay bottoms and weed growth is never a problem.

Spring International on Loch Harray

Next week, I will be away on Loch Harray in the Orkney Isles, fishing for England in the Spring International match.  We have 9 new caps in our side, but all are seasoned competition anglers and almost household names.  I am the Player/manager for this match and Clive Collier is Captain.  Andy Haskins, Si Morris and Alan Williams are the other experienced caps.  Ex Lexus Champion Lloyd Pallett is a new cap, as is regular Trout Fisherman Magazine contributor Leigh Pond and England Rivers International angler Keith McAdam.  Well known match anglers John Calvert, Harry Fox, David Wortley, Jim McGonigle, Paul Kitchen, Andy Croucher and Bob Shaw make up the rest of the team.

Harray is 6 miles long and 1 mile wide, so we will need as much practice as possible - hence the need to be there for a full week.  Our Team Coach is ex England International Captain Brian Thomas who now lives on Orkney in the quirky named village of Twatt!  Brian is an expert on many styles of loch style fishing and his knowledge will be invaluable.

The Scots team have to be the bookies' favourites due to their local knowledge, but the Irish are used to fishing for wild browns on their own Loughs and the Welsh Team are travelling up today to practice longer than any other team.  So all in all, it looks like being a fantastic match with plenty of top name anglers and ghillies alike.  All we are hoping for is some decent weather and no gale-force winds that could force the match to be abandoned.


The Chew pike have been active of late and I have had some great sessions, catching lots of fish - best last week from 8 twenties being Justin Whitfield's 22:08 fish.  I have also been reapturing some of the near 400 pike that I have tagged and am surprised to see that most have put on less than 2lbs in weight in a whole year! 

I see plenty of pike anglers out on Chew nowadays fly fishing for the pike.  This element of the sport is certainly one of the only growth areas and with sensitive management by the fishery; is a welcome addition to our fantastic sport.  Just one tip to some of the many pike fly anglers out there and struggling at the moment - SLOW DOWN and SCALE DOWN!

I love all species of fish that can be caught on a fly - be it perch, roach, pike, grayling, carp, barbel or trout.  My best ever roach weighed 3lbs 4ozs and took a Diawl Bach Nymph while bank fishing off Moreton - the angler next to me, when told it was 3lbs 4ozs shouted back "yeah - Fxxxing things"!
I also sadly remember the days when trout anglers on Chew threw their perch up the banks in disgust - much the same way that river anglers have tried to obliterate the Grayling for so many years.  Let's not make the same ignorant mistake with the pike.

To date, I have had 18 trout with cormorant marks and just 6 with pike marks.  This figure will probably change as the majority of Chews several hundred cormorants are away from the lake as they breed - prossibly off the Pembrokeshire and Western England coastlines.


If I can get an internet connection on Orkney, I will update my blog during the week - but don't expect any secret flies or methods from the Loch - all will be revealed after the International!

Bill Tucker with one of his Chew limit bag
Justin Whitfield's 22:08 pike

ARRGHH!!! Strong winds and bright sunshine - the worst fishing conditions!

When will this spell of strong, cold, North Easterly winds stop?  Coupled with constant bright sunshine, this has to be the worst conditions for trout fishing.
The Chew and Blagdon trout hate these conditions and when I was at Rutland Water last week, their trout responded by going off the feed.
The last 2 days on Chew have been very tricky, with deep fished nymphs the only way we could catch during the sunny, windy weather.  As soon as the winds dropped for a while, Herons Green came back on and the fish started to feed on the almost instant buzzer hatches.

Still, we must not complain - the opening month has been amazing, thanks in a big way to the light winds and warm air temperatures - I suppose we were due for a change.  The forecasters predict lighter winds as we approach the weekend and I fully expect the Bristol water trout to respond by feeding on the buzzer and daphnia and coming much closer to the surface again.

Just have a look at the size of the bloodworm and buzzer present in one of my Chew trout yesterday - if you look carefully, you will also see Hoglice and even Shrimp - these show how deep the fish have recently gone.

Pike action improving, but lots of smaller fish

The pike fishing with fly on Chew has started to improve, with lots of follows and many smaller fish.  However, Seb Shelton recently had a 27lb 8oz fish and one of my clients; Andrew Cadman, caught this cracking 24lb beauty.


I am keeping count of the marked trout I am catching this season and so far, it is very few.  Just 3 pike marked fish and 13 cormorant marked trout from around 150 landed (and many returned).  Most of the cormorants have left for the coast to breed and the pike are obviously feeding primarily on the many roach that I have already seen this season.


The Swifts arrived at Chew on Friday and by Saturday, there were hundreds chasing the buzzers!  I still haven't seen a house martin on Chew, but saw loads at Rutland last week.  No less than 14 buzzards were on a thermal above Chew last week and I think I spotted my first Hobby last week.  At times, there are more than a dozen Shelduck feeding on the buzzers at Chew.

Bloodworm, Caddis, Buzzer, hoglice and shrimp spoonings
Andrew Cadman with his 24lb pike

Dyson cleans up with a near 24 pounder!

Warren Dyson started our day on Chew with a bang by landing a superb 23lb 12oz pike on the first drift. This is his personal best pike on a lure - which happened to be a Silver Professor Kusami Spoon - the same lure that accounted for Chris Tarrant's 27 lb pike in the Autumn Chew Pike Trials.

The weather today was great for fishing - overcast skies and light winds - the rain spoilt things at times, but for February, this had to be almost perfect - pity the pike didnt agree though!  Most of the bait anglers struggled to put together a few jacks, but the 3 boats that constantly drifted, using assorted lures, were rewarded with plenty of action.

Warren Dyson with his personal best lure caught pike from Chew at 23lbs 12ozs.

Big Pike hit the Lures!

The water is clearing and Chew Valley is filling - at last!
And what's more, the big pike are now hitting the lures as well as we soon found out!

On Monday I was guiding Rob Johnson and Paul Mersh - 2 very experienced predator anglers experiencing Chew Valley for the first time.
We had a great day.  Rob's first fish was a stunning 22lb 12oz fish that smashed into his soft plastic lure. 

Rob Johnson with cracking 22lb 12oz pike from Chew valley on a Lure
Rob Johnson's fin perfect 17lb pike from Chew Valley Lake on a lure

Let the 2011 Chew Valley pike trials commence!

Two weeks in and the pike trials are well underway! Here's a brief catchup on an eventful start:

I've been out twice in the 1st session with clients.  Day 1 was cancelled due to high winds which really ripped the water into a muddy mess.  I was out on Day 2 with Daryl Hunter who landed his first pike of the day within 10 minutes.  The fish took a deep fished soft plastic lure.  Daryl also landed another couple of fish but alas, no biggies!

The next trip was with Chris Tarrant and his good friend Sean - they both had several small pike, but nothing over 10lbs.  However, the highlight of the day was another personal best fish for CT from Chew - a cracking 3lb 8oz Perch taken on a 5 inch Silver Spoon fished ultra slowly along the bottom.

I am out with clients again this week and will report back - already there have been pike of 38lbs, 34lbs and at least 4 others over 30lbs have been landed.  It's looking good for a 40 pounder at this rate and who knows, maybe my boat will get it.

More soon

Chris Tarrant and a 3lb 8oz Perch taken on a 5 inch Silver Spoon Fly

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