Team England

Scotland win Spring International

I have been at Bewl Water in Kent for the last week practicing for yesterday's Home International Loch Style Competition.

The weather was evil at times and the fishing was really hit and miss as a result.  No stock fish had gone in since 30th April, so we knew it would be hard.  We found fish using sinking lines on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday - in 6 areas.  On Thursday the sun came out and everything switched to floating lines or midge tips with nymphs.

Match day the wind went to the North and the temperatures plummetted again.  The same areas held the fish, but instead of slowly fished nymphs, almost all the fish were taken using a Cat Booby or a Sunburst FAB on the point of a 20 foot leader with 3 other nymphs up the line.  The odd fish took a nymph, but the vast majority ate the point fly bouyant pattern fished absolutely static at depth!

The Scots had this method off to a man and they thoroughly deserved their emphatic victory.  We also had this method but did not fish it so proficiently, so we came second.  Wales were third and the Irish picked up the Wooden Spoon.

England Qualifier

I am now coming back to Chew to fish my England Qualifier on Sunday with no practice for the past 10 days.  I know it is fishing better than anywhere in the country, with loads of huge fish and the majority taking nymphs.  I hope I draw a good boat partner who has been doing his practice in recent days!!!

@johnhorsey for Twitter reports

English National, Chew trout and pike

Last week I spent 4 days at Bewl Water in Kent practicing for; and then fishing in, the English Loch Style National Final.  Here, 100 of England's top anglers had qualified for the National Final, where the top 28 would represent Team England in the 2013 Loch Style Internationals to be held at Bewl Water in the Spring and Lake of Menteith (Scotland) in the Autumn.

I practiced for 3 days with Howard Croston, my great friend and fellow England World Team Member who works for Hardy and Greys.  We had plenty of fish on a variety of methods during practice, but sink tip or floating lines with washing line tactics seemed the best method.  My best fly was a Woofta Booby on a new Airflo Midge Tip, but we both knew that turning the energetic follows into takes on match day would be a problem as the fish came under more and more pressure during practice sessions.

On the day of the match, Bewl was becalmed and fish started to rise in the main basin.  This was going to be where I intended starting, as I hate the Cages area where I knew many would head.  I was praying the flat calm would prevail, but soon into the match, a light ripple covered the water and most of the fish stopped rising.

Thankfully, I covered a dimple rise near the tower at about 11:45 and a tiny sip engulfed my Claret Hopper - I struck and all hell let loose, culminating in a 3lb 6oz rainbow.  My boat partner Ian Watts had already landed a decent rainbow on a Booby, so we were both set for a few more fish.  But it got harder and harder for us both as the ripple stayed and the fish refused to rise.

I tried washing line tactics, but could only get the fish to follow.  Then another flat calm happened.  We moved around the lake looking for risers and finally found a few at the mouth of Bewl Straight.  I had been using normal size 10, 12 and 14 dries, but had several refusals, so I opted for 2 size 16 dries which I found in an old box in my tackle bag.  The first fish I covered ate it and trout number 2 nestled in my bass bag.  Then another ate it in similar style and it turned out to be a brownie, which had to be returned - what a rediculous rule on a day of such importance - a fishery rule I stress, nothing to do with the organisers!

I felt on such a hard day this might cost me my place in the England team, as once again, the ripple developed and the trout disappeared again.  Thankfully, at 5:30pm, the flat returned and I raced toward Bewl Straight - once again, a few fish rose and I covered one to hook and land my 3rd fish - and that, as they say, was that!  Ian also got one more fish on the Booby.

My weight of 7lbs 1/2oz gained me 27th place and with it a place in one of next year's Loch Style Teams - phew, what a relief!!!

Congratulations to Steve Cullen for winning the National and to runner-up Tony Fox, who were the only anglers to take their 8 fish limit bags.  And congratulations to the other 25 qualifiers - well deserved!

Chew Trout and Pike are amazing!

On Saturday I fished with 4 clients on Chew who landed 17 trout in bright sun and a steely cold wind - dreadful conditions for Chew Valley.  Floating Lines and nymphs were the tactics, with Diawl Bach's and Crunchers leading the way off Wick Green.  Oliver had a fantastic 4lb 10oz rainbow (see pic) and as the wind dropped, fish began to rise.

Next day I was piking with Neil West - it rained all day, blew a "hoolie" and the conditions were so bad, Chew Magna made National news for floods throughout the village!  Neil had 2 PB's weighing 13.08 and 15.08, while I sneaked out a 25.08 and a 20.08.

On Monday and Tuesday, the winds were so severe all the boats were cancelled.

On Wednesday I fished with Dave Sproston for pike during more rain and he had fish of 20.08 and 28.12, while I had a 27.08 pike plus a few smaller fish.

Today, Tony Ling and I braved strong winds and sunshine for 11 trout weighing 27lbs 11ozs.  Tony had a 4.02 and 4.00 rainbow, along with 5 others.  Most of the fish took nymphs, although we did tempt a couple on dries at last knockings.

My advice for anyone thinking of coming to Chew is - DO IT!  The fishing is fantastic!!



Oliver's 4lb 10oz Chew Rainbow
Dave Sproston's 28lb 12oz Chew pike
My 27lb 8oz Chew Pike

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

Italy World Championships did not go to plan!

The World Championships are now over and after 5 days I have recovered sufficiently to pen my blog - apologies for the delay.  Hardy Greys Team England were in 2nd place overall following a cracking team effort on the first session and at the end of day 1, we were in 5th place and going well.

Sadly, we had a few blanks in the team and some awful draws on the river and we finished the event in a disappointing 10th position.  Italy on the other hand, came from 13th on the first session to storm ahead of the ever-reliable Czech Team to win Gold and also claim Gold and Silver Individual placings.

Now I was in Castel di Sangro when the Worlds were last held in Italy and a similar thing happened.

It wasn't the best organised of World Championships - there was stocking in 2 of the rivers prior to the match, which meant some competitors were fishing for ultra finnicky wild browns and marble trout, while others could strip streamers down-and-across to drag out stocky rainbows!  What a joke.

The lake session at Lago de Brais was the most scenic I have ever fished - but once again, they shoved in a few thousand stocky browns before the match and turned it into a stupid bun-fight, where some of the anglers were fishing while their boatmen rowed them around - why these guys are not banned I will never know.  One of the reasons perhaps, is that there was no official from FIPS Mouche overseeing the sessions.  Some of us watched in total disbelief as lines were being trolled behind boats and fish jumped on and leapt out of the water - GOOD ANGLING (NOT)!

We normally have duplicate catch return sheets in World and European Championships, so if someone adds the total of fish wrongly, or there is a dispute, then it can easily be rectified.  Not this year.  We felt that FIPS Mouche should have insisted on this critical part of the results system.

These Championships had the potential to be superb - in practice we caught well, even though the rivers were grey with snow melt thanks to temperatures in the 90's!  We were prepared thoroughly by our ace guide Edgardo Dona who himself is a true expert on these Italian rivers.  We were kneeling for hours to fish upstream for ultra wary fish - but that seemed rediculous with the introduction of stockies into the rivers Aurino and Rienza.
What's wrong with hard fishing?  At least it is the same for everyone.

As usual, the mix was 4 rivers and 1 lake - they had a reserve lake, so why don't FIPS Mouche insist on a 3:2 ratio? 

The Dolomite Mountain area was scenically breathtaking and I will never forget the beauty of the area.  The friendships made will last lifetimes.  Competitors travelled from as far apart as Mexico and Australia.  We don't need stockies - when will organisers ever understand this?  It blighted what could have been one of the best World Championships ever - instead, it will be remembered for farcical boat sessions on a beautiful lake and a series of "peggy" sessions on the rivers.

My hearty congratulations go to World Champion Valerio Santi Amantini, 2nd placed Stefano Cominazzini and 3rd placed Roman Heimlich.  I would also like to congratulate Simon Cocker of Scotland who was in my group and deservedly finished in the top 10 - as well as the rest of his excellent Scotland Team.

In total, 21 countries took part this year and all were full of praise for the Controllers who were, to a man (and woman) - fantastic.  We salute you all.  As for the organisers and FIPS Mouche .................. well, hopefully lessons will be learnt for the future.

The victorious top 3 teams in Italy
John and Valerio - World Champion

Will these winds never end?

All boats have been cancelled on Chew today due to the strong Southerly winds - that's why I am sitting at home writing my blog!
I was on Chew for the last 3 days and have sat through 3 different wind directions, bright sunshine, rain and even thunder.  Yet the trout fishing has been incredible.  On Tuesday, I fished with an old mate Paul Kurgo and his father Edgar - Paul is new to fly fishing and they boated 5 big rainbows and a cracking brownie - all on nymphs off the East Shore and new Picnic Area.

On Wednesday, Tony Ling and I managed 8 trout apiece on a mix of dry flies and nymphs - from the same areas.  Fish were stuffed with hoglice, bloodworm and buzzer.

Yesterday, Derek Aunger and I took another double limit using either straight nymphs or washing line behind Denny Island.

All the fish fought really hard and many were over 3lbs in weight, so you can see why it is so frustrating to let the wind spoil today's fishing and put a halt to such a good run of form.

I'm out for pike tomorrow, but the weather forecast is not good ..........

England International on Loch Harray

Last week I fished Loch Harray in the Orkney Isles and volunteered to manage the Team in the absence of a full time manager.  What a place!  In 4 days, the Team boated an average of 140, 11-inch plus fish on the 4 days of practice - and that meant we would have caught at least the same amount each day of undersize fish.  Harray is alive with brown trout - all wild and the hardest fighting trout, pound for pound, that I have ever caught.

We fished with the help of ex England Captain and World Gold Medallist Brian Thomas, who has lived on Orkney for the last 14 years.  He showed us the method of fishing Sedgehogs on the Skerries - shallow areas strewn with large rocks - the takes were explosive!

The main method however, was sinking lines - DI3, DI5 and DI7 sinkers complete with 4 flies - several of them muddlers.  Takes came either on the drop, during a punctuated retrieve or on the hang - in other words, whenever the flies lifted or fell in the water.

We had a team of 14 which included no less than 9 new caps- all experienced anglers, but first time for an International Match.  And this was a truly unique venue with truly unique fishing.  Wales on the other hand had the strongest team I have ever witnessed, with an incredible 9 previous Captains of Wales - very impressive!

Scotland too had a very experienced side and of course, a fair degree of local knowledge, while Ireland are well versed in the art of catching wild brownies.

The fishing got harder throughout the week of practice, but even with an estimated 5000 fish being caught during the week, Harray still fished well on the day.

Sinking lines proved to be the best tactic, particularly Airflo Sweep Lines and the Skerries were not so productive as in recent days.

Congratulations to Wales for an emphatic victory, with Scotland 2nd, Ireland 3rd and us picking up the Wooden Spoon - our lads all gave 100% but sometimes you have to concede that you were fairly beaten by better teams on the day.

Give Chew a visit

Since opening day this season, Chew Valley has been on fire!  Only the recent 6 weeks of strong winds has dulled the action - and that has not been for lack of fish activity.  Even during the sun and wind, trout have continued to feed and the buzzer hatches are really prolific the second the winds drop.

Hopefully, this trend of strong winds will soon pass, giving us some settled weather.  The best areas are shallow water with no weed - once again, the Chew trout are staying well clear of any large weedbeds.

Last year's low levels meant the lake bad was exposed for months in some shallow areas and this has had a marked effect on the weed growth for this season - hence the greast fishing of late behind the Island - all in shallow water.

If you're looking for some proper nymph and dry fly fishing, then head on down to Chew - you won't be disappointed!

Brian Thomas with a Loch Harray Brownie
Paul Kurgo with lovely Chew brownie

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