John Horsey Fly Fishing Web Log

John's Fishing Blog

Pike Trials finish with a BANG!

Well the Chew Pike Boat Trials are over for another year and as usual, they produced plenty of 30's and loads of 20's.

The final 6 day session was dominated by bait anglers, but a 36lb 5oz cracker couldnt resist a lure - sadly it wasnt one of mine!  I fished the final 2 days with Ian Gregg, Stuart Clough and Keith Hendry.  We fished lures on the drift but to no avail.  So we anchored and fished static baits and wobbled smelt.  Over the 2 days, we had 10 pike - 6 to the wobbled baits and the other 4 to static deads.

Ian had 3 mid doubles, with Keith a 16 pounder and Stuart Clough a superb 25lb 8oz esox.  I only had 2 fish but one weighed 27lbs and became my biggest of the Autumn Pike Trials.

The other weighed 8lbs and what made it interesting was that it had one of my Tags in it's dorsal fin - put there the previous day when Ian Gregg caught it about 100 yards away!   That makes it 660 pike to my guided boat sessions since opening day in March 2010.

Guiding on Litton during the Winter.

Now that the 2011 season is over on Chew and Blagdon, I am still available to guide on Litton lakes - just 10 minutes drive from Chew.

There are 2 reservoirs at Litton with boats on each and a superb Fishing Lodge to cook up some warm food on a cold day. 

Stuart Clough's 25.08 taken at dusk
My biggest pike of the Trials at 27lbs
What happens when a fit and fully recovered 27lb pike wants to go!

Chew's record Brownie

Chew Valley's brown trout record has been well and truly smashed by the capture of a 22lb 7oz monster.  Believed to be the biggest grown-on brown trout from any reservoir in the UK, this fantastic specimen was returned unharmed to the water.

The potential record fish was caught after the 15th October; a time when all brown trout must be released by law.  It was banked by pike angler Justin Harrington on a deadbait during the 3rd session of Chew Valley Pike Trials from the North Shore.

The pictures show it to be in absolute fin perfect condition and apparently it fought well, but went back well after recovering.

We always thought that the Chew brownies might be capable of such sizes, particularly in recent years when so many big browns have been landed.  I am sure that these leviathans are Ferox Trout that change their eating habits to that of live and dead fish - there are certainly plenty of roach and perch for them to feed upon.

Last season I had an 11lb Brown Trout which would not recover as I tried in vain to release it.  It was an old fish, but I wanted to return it.  Alas, it went belly-up, so I took it to the local smoke house where we discovered it had 6 small roach in it's system - all in differing stages of digestion.

So perhaps we have a new species to target on Chew Valley - the Chew Valley Ferox!   Who knows, they might be feeding on the Chew pike!?!

Justin Harrington's 22.07 Chew Brownie
Justin Harrington's 22.07 Chew Brownie

Big girls feed on 3rd week of Chew Pike Trials

Wayne Adcock had a day to remember on the Annual Chew Pike Competition held on the 1st day of the 3rd session of Pike Trials.  Wayne drew top predator angler Neville Fickling and landed fish of 33lbs, 27lbs and 29lbs, plus a couple of doubles for good measure!  Adcock's total weight was over 100lbs and easily took the trophy.
Deadbaits at anchor was the winning method and 2nd placed Martin Harrison also fished deads to take 5 doubles for almost 70lbs.

I was drawn with top lure angler Bob Jones and we were really excited as the winds were low and the air temperatures comfortably warm - some pike were even showing on the surface as they targetted the roach - we were very confident that this would be a day for the lures.  How wrong we were!

After 15 minutes I had a good hit and landed a 7 .08 fish, soon followed by a couple of jacks for Bob and I in quick succession.  Then it was a case of sit back and watch the deadbait anglers heaving in pike after pike.  Returning to the Dam, I had a 10.08 fish and expected things to start happening for us - but they didn't.

Bob and I persevered however and at last knockings, I managed a 25.08 beast off Moreton point - a gnarly old campaigner which was blind in one eye!

3 twenties on baits!

Although I have supreme confidence fishing lures for pike on Chew in virtually any conditions, there are times when I stick the anchor down and watch the floats.  To me, fishing deads lacks any interaction and apart from twitching them along the bottom from time to time, you are literally at the mercy of the pike and cannot make things happen as you can fishing lures or flies.  Still, each to their own I suppose.

On this particular day, I was fishing with Barry Hawyes, who this time last year, lost the biggest pike I have ever seen on Chew Valley - right at the net - in fact, 2/3's of it's body was over the net before it slunk off into the depths!  Barry has never been the same since!

As it was cold and windy, we drifted with lures for a few hours and Barry had a couple of jacks.  Lunchtime came, so we anchored-up and stuck out 3 baits while Barry continued to fish the lures.  Within 10 minutes, he had missed a take and landed a 7lb fish.

The boat near to us had a decent fish, so we felt we too were in with a chance.  Sure enough, Barry's float started to move, so he wound down and struck into a solid fish.  After a decent fight, we got the fish into the net, just as my bait runner screamed off.  I struck into another good fish and to cut a long story short, we had 2 fish in the same net weighing 47lbs!

Barry's fish was 20lbs 8ozs and mine was 26lbs 8ozs.  Thankfully both were lightly hooked and went back quickly after a couple of pics - the rigs however were a different story and needed completely replacing.

We went off on the drift for the rest of the afternoon but returned for last knockings, where I managed another cracking fish of 24.08, while Barry had a jack and lost another biggie. 

So far, my guests and I have had 13 pike over 20lbs to my boat during the Trials and the last session begins on Friday.  Normally, the number of pike caught drops, but historically, there are even bigger fish landed - I've not had a 30 this season, so lets hope it will come next week - or perhaps even a 40 ..........


John with 25.08 lure caught pike
Barry Hawyes with 20.08 on deadbait
John with 26.08 taken on a dead

Two great days on Blagdon

I have just had 2 great fishing days on Blagdon with Barry Hawyes and Bryan Brown.
On Thursday Barry and I drifted along the shallow water off Polish Water in front the Lodge to land a double limit of 12 rainbows, returning 3 browns as well.

Barry had the best fish at 4lbs and it took a Diawl Bach Nymph.

The following day, Bryan and I fished Cheddar Water, Polish Water and Butcombe Bay to land 10 rainbows and return one Brownie.
Bryan also had a superb 3lb Perch on a Sparkler Lure fished on a DI3 sinking line.

The tactics for both days were floating line and straight nymphs - Diawl bachs and Crunchers using 8.3lb Hardy Mach Fluorocarbon (brilliant leader material).
At times we also switched to lures on a DI3 sinking line - normally when the wind picked up and the fish went off the feed.

My advice is to get a boat or two on Blagdon before the end of October - it's fantastic fishing!

Barry Hawyes and a 4lb Blagdon Rainbow
Bryan Brown's 3lb Blagdon Perch

Vandals strike at Chew!

The 2nd session of Chew Valley Pike Trials were marred by vandals who set fire to some of the boats on Sunday evening, causing over £25,000 of damage.
Six boats and 5 outboard engines were totally ruined by this senseless act of vanalism.  Thankfully, a visiting pike angler spotted the fire and called the fire brigade, otherwise the result could have been catastrophic.

It was a sickening sight on Monday morning, seeing the burnt-out carcasses of the boats, with charred remnants of the wooden gunwales and transoms floating around on the surface of the lake.  The fibre glass hulls burnt so savagely that the engine mountings disintegrated and the engines dropped into the lake.  The recovered engines were ruined.

Pike session number 2 off to a great start.

The previous 2 days had been excellent, with light winds and warm air temperatures.  More pike fell to deadbait tactics than in the first set of trials, but still the lure anglers were making the headlines.

Two visiting lure fishers drifted over the deep water on Monday and although the winds were near gale force, boated fish of 22lbs and the biggest so far at 32.08 - both taken on spoons.

I fished the first 2 days and had 3 twenties - a 20.08, 23.04 and at last knockings on Sunday evening, a fin perfect fish of 24lbs 8ozs.  All took slowly fished soft plastic lures using a Greys Prowla medium Lure rod, a Shimano Rarenium reel, loaded with 50lb Power Pro braid.

Tight Lines Pod Cast

I really enjoyed being on Sky TV's Tight Lines programme last friday night.  Keith Arthur and I chatted about Chew, Blagdon, trout and Pike - both with flies and lures.
If you missed the programme, then you can download the entire Pod cast from the Tight Lines Website.

Chew's burnt-out boats
John Horsey Fly Fishing

See John on Sky Sports' "Tight Lines" show this Friday

I'm really pleased to have been invited back onto Keith Arthur's TV Show "Tight Lines" this coming Friday, 14th October at 7:00pm on Sky Sports 2.

The show gives up to date information on a wide range of fishing issues and every week they have a different studio guest.  I'm expecting to chat about both trout and pike fishing with host Keith Arthur and how best to tackle the remaining weeks of the reservoir trout fishing season.

The show is studio based in the now famous "Fishing Bivvy", but there are also clips of fishing action throughout and reports on the latest techniques, baits and lures to increase your chances of success this weekend.

Gales cause us to be towed off Blagdon!

In all the years that I have fished Blagdon Lake, I have never had to cancel a day due to the winds.  Chew is a different kettle of fish, as it is more exposed and also 3 times the size of Blagdon, so although still rare, it sometimes has to be expected during severe gales.

However, last Thursday, the winds were howling from the West and I was afloat on Blagdon with Dennis and Richard Greener.  We had a couple of trout in the bag, had stopped for lunch and decided to take a chance on the Top End as the wind seemed to have abated.  We anchored in Wood bay and Dennis was soon into a cracking rainbow on a Diawl Bach Nymph. 

The wind got worse and worse and soon our anchor would not hold bottom - even in the relative shelter of Wood Bay.  So we made a hasty decision to motor back to the Dam - we got to Green Lawns and I decided to change to my number 1 battery, which had been fully recharged the previous day.  It was like standing still!  We were motoring at full revs, but the force of the wind even seemed to be pushing us back!  We made our way into Holt Bay and signalled to a passing Bristol Water Ranger that we were in trouble.

Within minutes, out came the Bristol Water Launch and we were duly towed back to the jetties - along with another boat who was also struggling. What an embarrassment!

Apparently, all the pike boats had been recalled at 2:30 that afternoon from Chew Valley and now they were doing the same at Blagdon, so we didn't feel too guilty.

We lost another day this week due to the winds, but the forecasters are predicting better weather for the coming weeks.

For you trout anglers, get along to Blagdon for some truly exceptional fly fishing.  Tactics are either Washing Line with Sparkler Booby and Diawl Bach or Cruncher Nymphs, or just a team of Dries - Hoppers, Bobs Bits and Carrot Flies - Claret and Red being the best colours.

At Chew, the best fishing is still along Woodford Bank away from the weedbeds, but a lot of trout have now migrated to Herons Green and along the Moreton Bank and all across the middle of the lake.

Pikers should be in for a treat next week as the water is cooling fast and the bigger fish should come on the feed.  Watch this space .........

Being towed off Blagdon
Andy Lucas with 4lb Blagdon Rainbow

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