John Horsey Fly Fishing Web Log

John's Fishing Blog

2015 Lexus Championship dates

The 2015 Lexus European Flyfishing Championships dates and venues are now available on the Lexus Championship WebSite.

Go to:


Talk to Somerset PAC

 I am giving a presentation to the Somerset Region of the PAC next Monday, 1st December.
The talk will be held at 7:00pm at the Sedgemoor Inn, Westonzoyland near Bridgwater.
All pike anglers welcome.
Although I give many talks around the country and also host fishing clinics abroad, this will be the first time I will be addressing a group of serious pike anglers.

I look forward to meeting plenty of new faces on Monday!

Blagdon article in Trout Fisherman Magazine

If you want to fish Blagdon Lake next season, then why not take a look at my article in the November Issue of Trout Fisherman Magazine?

Poster for my Talk on Monday
My Blagdon article in Nov Issue of Trout Fisherman Magazine

2014 Season almost over

The boat fly fishing season is now over until 2015 and some super fish came out in the last few weeks.  The pike trials continue until Friday next week and then all boat fishing will cease until next year.
Pike have fed well during this very mild Autumn with masses of roach and perch fry present.  However, there are already over 300 cormorants present on Chew Valley Lake and they will feast themselves on the silver fish stocks during the close season.  I hope that they do not obliterate them completely as they are such an important part of the food chain on Chew.

Since 17th October in the BLAC Lure Final on Chew, I have had Pike Trials boats and fly fishing boats and have landed 80 pike and countless numbers of perch during these sessions.  There has been a true cross section of sizes of pike, proving that all year classes are present - despite claims to the contrary by the vocal misinformed!

IGFA Fly Tippet records

Richard Hart fished with me on the fly recently and claimed 4 IGFA perch fly tippet records.  His best perch weighed 3lbs 10ozs.  This was the first time I have ever had anyone fish for line caught records and it certainly made the day interesting.  Richard's colleague Lloyd Morgan also caught plenty of perch plus pike to 13:08 which was his PB fly caught pike.  Rich then followed that by catch and releasing a 4:08 rainbow and a stonking 6:00 brown trout!

Pike and Trout

Will Anderton came to Chew from Keswick and landed a PB pike and trout in the same day.  Will's 6:00 rainbow was an absolute deep bellied beauty!
Barry Hawyes had an 18:00 pike with me on Monday this week, while John Synnuck boated pike of 27:04 and 17:00; losing another tail walking mid 20 while I was unhooking his first high 20!



Will Anderton's 6:08 Chew Rainbow
Rich Hart's 6:00 Chew Brownie
Rich Hart's Record IGFA fly tippet 3:10 Chew Perch

Pike Trials Success

The Chew Pike Trials began last Monday and are now into their 2nd 5-day session.  At least one 30lb fish has been caught every day and sometimes two in a day!  This is in addition to many big 20's and a host of doubles.  Even the smaller fish; which many thought were not present last year, have made a welcome appearance, so all is well with the Chew pike population.
The roach and perch shoals are absolutely immense and will provide food for the predatory fish and the overwintering trout.  Sadly there are already over 200 cormorants on Chew Valley and this is not good news for these baitfish.  

My best fish last week weighed 31:08 and was part of an 11 fish haul to lures with John Synnuck, whose best fish was 21:08, while I managed another of 23:00.  Yesterday I fished with Nigel Snell and his son Josh and we boated just the 3 fish - Nigel had a 6:00 pike then I had one of 23:00, before Nigel topped the day off nicely with a beauty at 27:08.  Once again the fish took either Fox Replicant Lures or Silver Spoons.

So far during these Pike Trials we have boated 30 pike on lures and as the water cools, I think the big fish will feed harder and the fishing could get even better!
Most anglers are anchoring and fishing deadbaits with limited success as I feel the pike are not really hungry yet due to the availability of the baitfish.  After the success of the BLAC Lure Final, where over 250 pike were taken on lures in a day, I am amazed that more anglers havent taken to drifting Chew using lures, rather than sitting it out over 4 deads waiting for the pike to strike?  Still, I suppose it must come down to a lack of confidence in lure fishing or simply the misguided belief that big Chew pike only take deadbaits.

I expect I will also fish deads when it gets too cold to feel my fingers, but until then, I will be casting those lures and trying to cover as much of Chew's 1200 acres as possible!

Trout fishing until 9th November

Although all the boats on Chew are sold out during mid week, there are still weekend flyfishing boats available for trout (or pike)  up till and including Sunday 9th November.  On days when the wind drops I have recently witnessed some excellent buzzer hatches and trout rising to them all day - particularly in the Stratford and Herriots area of the lake.  Dry fly will be the method for these rising trout, with Hoppers, Bobs Bits and Carrot Flies being the best patterns by far.

If the winds stop the trout from rising, then try larger fry imitating lures such as Minkies, Sparklers and the good old Humungous Lure.  A DI3 is the best line to fish these fry patterns and anywhere across the lake is worth a try.  However, with the masses of fry near the landing stages and cages, this has to be a hot spot.  I have had some huge brownies chase my pike lures and also some cracking rainbows - even though they are too big for them to take effectively.

There are also thousands of great perch near the cages and Sailing Club and fly is way better than lures to tempt them.  Last season I had a day on the perch and caught so many I lost count.  My best perch weighed 4:01 and my best double-up was a 3:11 on the point fly with a 3:12 on the dropper!

Birdlife amazing

Recently there have been some great bird sightings on Chew.  An Ospreys has been present for several weeks as a visitor during it's migration to warmer climes.  I have spotted it diving to take roach off the surface several times and it really is an exciting sight.
Last week a Phalarope was present for a few days as was a juvenile Great Skua - I wish that more of those were present because the gulls are scared witless when it is around!  I also saw a Peregrine chasing and bombing ducks on one day, while the Little Egrets are still around and there numbers seem to be growing each year.

Bob Handford retires

After a career with Bristol Water spanning 47 years, Bob Handford finally retired last week.  There was a gathering of many anglers to wish Bob a long and happy retirement, with the BRFFA presenting him with a new fishing rod in recognition for all his dedicated and helpful service to anglers visiting the Bristol Waters over the years.  Bob has been such a helpful person over the years and his presence will be missed.

In the meantime, Bob's assistant Tony Donnelly will take up the reins and will do a great job.  Tony has been assistant fisheries manager now for over 3 years and in that time has made some significant improvements to the fisheries.  I am sure that Tony will fill Bob's boots perfectly and with him, the future of these famous fisheries will be assured.

My 31:08 lure caught Chew pike
John Synnuck with a 21:08 Chew pike
Nigel Snell's 27:08 Chew pike

3rd Place in BLAC Lure Final

On Saturday I joined 59 other finalists for the British Lure Angling Championships Final on Chew Valley Lake.  From a total entry of over 450, the Grand Final was contested by 60 qualifiers and many of them extremely well known lure anglers.

My boat partner was Rado Papiewski from Poland who also works for the Angling Trust, so we would have lots to chat about.  Hopefully with plenty of pike as well. Right from the off, we had agreed not to specifically target the perch - nothing wrong with doing that, but we both felt we wanted to fish for pike.
It rained from the word go, but our spirits were not dampened.

I am not a fan of anchoring so we drifted from the start in deep water by the sailing club where I had recently had pike in 24 to 30 feet of water - and on the fly too!  Rado had the first pike at over 80cms which was a good start.  Then I had two others, with Rado also getting one.  We also lost a few.  However, it soon became clear that the bait fish had moved closer to the shore and the anchored boats in 15 to 18 feet of water were reaping the rewards.  Ben Humber was on fire and had almost filled his sheet with some fantastic perch and several pike by lunchtime.  We needed to move.

Out we went to Nunnery and we both had 2 more pike to the boat and lost 2 others - all in 40 minutes.  Rado hooked a cracking pike of around 20lbs and I quickly grabbed his net and netted it for him - the fish then jumped out of the net and left the lure embedded in the mesh.  "Ah well" said Rado - "these Chew fish dont know when they're beaten". 
"You're gonna need a bigger net in future" was on my mind, but at that point, I thought it best to keep my gob shut!

Then we had to break for lunch prepared for us by the Polish Anglers Club and as I love Polish Sausage, that break was excellent.  It also gave us all time to dry out our soaking wet clothes - a bit!

The afternoon 4 hour session saw the sun come out and the winds rise - never good for fishing on Chew.  Still, we searched out lots of shallow areas and were soon rewarded with plenty of hits and several pike to the boat.  GAME ON!
That session, Rado and I boated another 22 pike up to around the 17lbs mark and also lost at least another 15!  Oh how I hate barbless hooks.

What a session though and I ended with 17 pike and Rado 13.

Ben Humber had not had a great afternoon session and finished in runner up position, while all rounder Steve Collett added another 4 pike to his morning tally of 3, but also added an amazing 40 perch to become the BLAC Lure Champion for 2014.  Steve is a top angler and thoroughly deserved his win.  Ben had the trophy in his grasp, but let it fall away in the afternoon session.  Great angling skills though by a really nice bloke.

Me?  By lunchtime I realised I was out of it, but was determined to persevere chasing the Chew Pike on the drift and was really proud to have landed the most pike caught by the 60 anglers on the day.  My boat partner Rado fished like a "Chew regular" and his 13 pike got him 6th place overall.  Our boat haul of 30 pike was also the best pike catch of the match.

But ultimately it was the event that was the real success, with anglers from all over the UK and many from Poland fishing on what has to be the best lake in Europe.  no less than 222 Pike and 200 Perch were recorded - the biggest pike measured 120cms (approx 35lbs + and not weighed) and was landed by Ben Tregoning, while the best perch measured 50cms and weighed 3lbs 14ozs, although bigger ones were lost.

Julian Chidgey organised the entire event in impecable style, while Andy Ford of SKY TV's Tight Lines ensured the match will feature next week on Sky TV.  Angling Times will also feature the Final in the next issue.  Roll on next year!!!

Top 3 in the BLAC Lure Final on Chew Valley Lake
Rado with a cracking Chew pike
Fish finder showing the massive roach shoals on Chew

BLAC Lure Final on Chew

I am really looking forward to the BLAC Lure Final this coming weekend where 60 qualifiers will battle it out on Chew Valley Lake for the title of 2014 British Lure Anglers Club Lure Champion.  It is the culmination of many Regional Heats across the UK organised by Julian Chidgey and many of the top lure anglers in Europe will be taking part.
The match will also be covered by Sky TV's Tight Lines crew and members of the Angling Press will be present.

Chew has an incredible head of roach and perch fry this year which means there is plenty of food for both the pike and the perch.  Personally, I will not be targetting the perch as I feel the pike are the main quarry and hope that some lucky angler catches a giant fish that will push the record.  What a result that would be!!!
Having hooked and seen some colossal pike over the years, I have no doubt in my mind that the new record fish will come from Chew Valley - it is more a case of "when" than "if".

More crucial that the size of fish however, is that I hope everyone enjoys the Grand Final on Chew; the weather is kind to us and that the camararerie & friendship of competition fishing shines through.

The pike are feeding well now in preparation for the long Winter months ahead.  We have had 13 fish to the boat on my last 2 guided trips and brothers Paul and Raymond Reynolds from Scotland both landed their PB Pike on the fly recently.

Trout fishing

The trout fishing on Chew is now excellent with fish feeding on buzzer and fry.  You might need some larger fry patterns and slow sink lines to target the big rainbows and browns, but it is great fun and a highly imitative way of fishing.  Dry fly will also work for the nymph feeders and the resident fish have started to show again at Stratford, Moreton and Wick Green through to Spring Bay.

Blagdon is a bit harder than Chew right now, but still well worth a visit.  As the days shorten and get cooler, I am sure Blagdon will switch on like it normally does at this time of year.  Once again, dont just opt for nymphs and dries as there are some huge fish waiting to be tempted by some bigger Minky Flies and Fry Patterns.

Raymond's first PB Chew pike
Raymond's second PB Chew pike

Blog Archive

December 2016

January 2016

December 2015

April 2015

August 2014

December 2013

September 2013

February 2012