Pike

The New Season beckons .....

Well it had to happen; a long, dry, wind free and generally mild Winter - then just as the Lake is due to reopen for Pike Fishing - WHAM!  Gale force winds and driving rain are forecast for the West Country, driving right across Chew Valley Lake and causing the cancellation of the 1st two days of the 2017 Pike Trials on Thursday and Friday!
Don't get me wrong, we desperately need lots of rain to fill both Chew and Blagdon, but why did the winds have to pick up to ruin the start of another Pike Trials Session?  Exactly the same happened last year and another Opening Day was lost.

Still, if the forecasters are right, then the worst of it should have passed by Saturday and the boats should be let out to sample the best pike fishing in Europe - if not the World!

I am doing 10 days for Bristol Water as their official Pike Guide and there are still 2 days free in November - simply ring Bristol Water Fisheries at Woodford Lodge, Chew on 01275 332339 to book a day for 1 or 2 rods (the price is the same).

Guided Trout Fishing for 2017

This will be my 23rd year as a Professional Fishing Guide and hopes are high for a great season on the Bristol Waters.  Early season until July last year saw both Chew and Blagdon enjoy amazing trout fishing.  Huge hatches of buzzer brought fish to the surface as early as Opening Day and nymph fishing became the norm throughout March and April. 

Then once the warm weather came, massive hatches of damsel flies drove the trout into a frenzy - particularly on Blagdon.  In all my years fishing the Bristol Waters, I have never witnessed the trout feed so voraciously on damsels - and the fishing with washing line tactics or dries - was electric!

This year Chew opens first on 9th March and Blagdon opens a week later on the 16th March.  The lakes are currently lower than would be hoped, with Chew at 68% and Blagdon just 56% of capacity.  However, this rain will certainly push both lakes up a bit and that will be a good thing.

I can provide the latest Hardy Rods and Reels plus any other tackle if necessary.  Comfortable boat seats come as standard in my boat and all you need to bring is a packed lunch and some drinks!

Litton is also a great place for tuition or Corporate Days and where else in the country can you get not 1, but 2 lakes exclusively to yourself?

Guided Pike Fishing

Pike on the fly is a fantastic way to target Chew's mammoth fish and unlike the Pike Trials, where getting a boat is like rocking horse manure, access on the fly is available throughout the season.  Also, unlike using treble hooks, a single debarbed pike fly is really unintrusive as regards capture.  So there is far less chance of damaging the pike and due to the nature of the weather conditions here in the West Country, the oxygen levels rarely deplete, meaning that the pike are fighting fit throughout the Summer months.

I can supply top of the range Hardy rods and reels plus all terminal tackle, flies, nets and crash mats to target these amazing creatures.

So why not book a day with me in 2017?  Simply go to "Contact" and I will be in touch.

 

Chew Spillway showing the low water levels
Nice silver early season Blagdon rainbow
A Chew Summer pike on the fly

What a season that was!

Hard to believe that another fly fishing season is now complete - but what an awesome season it was!
Huge pike, enormous trout, monster perch and great competitions.

Vail, Colorado USA for 2016 World Championships

My best bit of news recently is being selected to represent Team England in next year's World Championships in Vail, Colorado.  The Youth Championships were held there this season and by all accounts the venues and organisation are perfect for a match of this magnitude.
My other England Team Mates are Howard Croston, Simon Robinson, Phil Dixon and Andrew Scott, with Paul Page as Manager.

Trout Season

Both Chew and Blagdon Lakes were on fire for the majority of the season.  Once again, massive buzzer hatches brought the fish onto the feed as early as March and the dry fly fishing on Chew was exceptional.  Although the rainbows are always in tip-top condition, it was the size and quantity of the browns that was staggering.
One of my clients, Chris Jarrett, landed a brown of over 14lbs while pike fishing with me in November - the giant brownie took a whole mackerel.
All through the season people were reporting catches of 5lb to 8lb browns - most of which were voluntarily returned to the water.  Which is great news.

Perch on Chew

For the 3rd year running, the perch showed up in large numbers on Chew Valley Lake.  Specimens of up to almost 5lbs were taken - mainly around the jetties and most on the fly. 
Late afternoon in the back end of August through until November was the key time to contact a PB Perch.  I fly fished one day with Ian Gregg and we struggled for perch all day - plenty of pike and the odd trout, but the perch were hard to locate.
Then just as the light started to fade and the wind dropped, Ian had a PB 3:03 perch then with the last cast of the day followed it with a 3:10.

Pike

The highlight of the season has to be my Italian client Enrico Pini's massive 40lb 8oz caught during March on Chew using a fly.  Vern Novy then had a 31:08 a week later and plenty of other pike came to my boat during the course of the fly fishing season.  Pike ranging from 2lb, through to double figures and also several 20's up to 28lbs 8ozs.
But during the Pike Trials, Dave Sproston had a 33:10 on a lure, while I had a 33:00 on a deadbait.  We also had 70 others on both fly, lure and deads from 1st October to mid November.

European Championships

I fished for Team England in Italy for the FIPS Mouche European Championships and had mixed results.  The rain and floods made a couple of my river pegs almost impossible to fish, but I did manage another 1st Place in my Lake Session.  As a team we finished in 8th place overall.

National Loch Style Final

After being the 2014 National Loch Style Champion, I qualified once again for the Final, but this year on Bewl Water.  It was a very tricky and testing venue, with 100 top anglers vying for the 28 places in next season's 2 Loch Style International matches.
Thankfully I finished in 5th place overall and have now qualified to fish the Spring International on Ireland's Lough Lein in May.

Christmas Vouchers for Guided Days

Don't forget that I can provide Vouchers for Guided Fishing Days that make excellent Christmas Presents.  Just drop me an email and I can arrange it for you.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

 

Ian Gregg with his last cast 3:10 Chew Perch
Me with a 33lb Chew Pike
Chris Jarrett's 14lb Chew Brown Trout

Fishing catch-up

Apologies for the delay in updating my blog.  I seem to spend more time nowadays updating Facebook posts to keep things bang up to date with whats going on in the fishing world.

Great Chew trout fishing

Following weeks of hot weather and water temperatures of over 79 degrees F, I can finally report that Chew is right back on form thanks to the cooler weather and heavy storms.  In the Lexus Heats held over the weekend, rod averages were over 8 on both days, with average weights being 2lbs 6ozs.

We fished to a 4 fish kill and then catch and release.  Of the 354 trout caught, no less than 194 were returned alive to the lake.  Paul Roach, winner of both Lexus Chew Heats in 2013, continued his amazing run of form with victory on both days this year!  Quite an acheivement.

But the biggest cheer of the day went to Paul's granddaughter Daisy Bristow for qualifying for the Grand Final with 11 fish and with it 6th place overall.

Greys UK Pike Fly Fishing Championships

The inaugural UK Pike Fly Fishing Championships sponsored by Greys took place a few weeks ago on Chew Valley Lake.

Top rod on the day was Alex Mason who landed 2 pike for a match winning weight of 20lbs 4ozs.  Mason’s catch included a 15lb12oz fish and his prize was a Greys Carnivore Rod.

Geoff Hewitt’s 19lb 14oz pike won him the biggest pike prize of a Greys carnivore Rod, while Mike Bolt topped the Perch catch, also winning a Carnivore Rod for his 2lb 2oz Perch. Runner up was Simon Pledge and 3rd place went to John Bowen – both anglers winning Greys GX900 Reels.  4th place to Kevin Edwards who won a pair of Ugly Fish Sunglasses.

I am grateful to Bristol Water for allowing us to have a pike match and to Greys for their superb sponsorship.  Next year we hope to sell out the event and I am confident that there will be sufficient support.

Some great pike being caught

High water levels and reduced weed growth with masses of roach and perch fry have meant that the Chew pike are feeding well.  Things look great for the Autumn pike trials, but in the meantime, some superb quality pike have been caught on the Fly!

I have been out lots of times this Summer and thanks to high winds and good quality water, there has been absolutely no problem with oxygen depletion and the pike are in top shape.  My best was a 32:08 cracker from Stratford Bay and that makes it two 30's to the boat so far this season.

As the temperatures drop and the water cools, I am expecting some great results from the pike and possibly also the Perch.


 

 

Greys UK Pike Flyfishing Championships Prize Winners
Barry Hawyes with a brace of 3lb+ Chew rainbows
John Horsey with a 32lb 8ozs Chew Pike on the Fly

Lure Qualifier Match

 On Tuesday I fished my first ever lure angling match in a heat of the British Lure Angling Championships held on Chew Valley Lake.
The match was a sell out with 66 anglers hoping to finish in the top 6 and secure their place in the Grand Final, also to be held at Chew Valley Lake on 4th October.

I was drawn with Stephen Bates and we decided to try all over the lake in the hope of discovering some new pike areas that we have not yet found this season on the fly.
Stephen started in great form with a 20lb pike, which measured 95cms.  The match is decided on total length, so weight is not important -only to the anglers!
I soon had a 9lb pike which amazingly measured 78cms and therefore I only needed a jack to beat Stephen's massive fish!

Until then I was treating the day as a pleasure day, but my competition mentality kicked in and we decided to do our best to both finish with respectable scores.  The field of anglers was very experienced and a top 6 place would be hard to achieve!

We decided to target the deeper water where there often are plenty of jacks - so having spent several hours in pursuit of big fish, we changed our tactics.  Off to the Woodford bank and fishing in 24 feet of water, we fished painfully slowly with Fox Replicant Lures to prise out 4 more fish for me and 2 more for Stephen.  Now during the last couple of hours, I lost at least 5 pike during play, but Stephen could have walked the match with the number of pike he lost - frequently right by the net as well!!

To cut a long story short, my total length of 303cms was sufficient to earn me 2nd place overall and Stephen also qualified, so we were both very happy anglers.  My final fish came on my very last cast and without it I would not have qualified!  

Roll on the Grand Final.  I am really going to take this match seriously from now on as it is a great event, expertly organised by Julian Chidgey.

Stephen Bates 20lb lure caught pike
My biggest pike on the day

Amazing sport on Chew & Blagdon

 The opening few weeks of the fly fishing season on the Bristol Waters has been nothing short of amazing!  Buzzers have hatched in their millions on sometimes the coldest of days and the trout have gorged themselves on them.

For the last 2 days I have fished Blagdon then Chew with Trout Fisherman Magazine taking photo's for articles.  I also worked with Guido Vinck and Bruno Chermanne from Belgium last week along with Tony Donnelly doing pics for a Belgian Magazine called Le Pecheur Belge.  Each day was incredibly productive and we landed rainbows of up to 7lbs and browns to 4lbs.

When the cold winds drop, dry fly tactics or floater/midge tip lines with nymphs are the best methods, but when it gets cold and windy, nothing seems to beat a DI5 with a combo of Booby, nymph and Blob.  However, I have not yet had the need to fish the flies fast - a steady figure of eight seems to work much better.

Pike on the fly

The pike have now definitely spawned and some days the sport is very good.  Locating the pike has been tricky at times so I have used plenty of petrol looking for good areas.  The water temperature at the moment is around 13 degrees C and this time last year it was a mere 4 degrees C!  That was a cold Spring.

On Good Friday I had my first 30lb pike of the new season - 30:04 to be exact.  And it was a cracker of a fish - one of the deepest pike I have ever caught on Chew.

As usual at this time of the year, several very big pike have been caught by trout anglers using Black Boobies.  I weighed a 21:08 pike on the weekend caught by visiting angler Graham Bodsworth hooked fair and square in the top of the mouth on a size 12 Black Buzzer!

My 7lb Chew Rainbow
Tony Donnelly with a cracking Chew brownie
John Horsey's 30lb 4oz Chew Pike

Tarrant gets a double on Chew

On Tuesday I fished with Chris Tarrant and Martin Founds for pike on Chew in the 3rd session of Autumn Pike Trials.
We had decent weather for the time of year and managed 8 runs, but only 4 pike in the boat, the biggest of which weighed 14lbs and was caught by Martin - see photo below.

CT also managed a low double and another smaller fish.  The day was full of laughs and stories as usual.  CT was on good form but sadly not able to add to his 30lb+ PB from Chew several years ago!

I am out again on Saturday and am hoping that the winds stay low and even drop away altogether - in my experience, this is when the biggest fish come out to play!  Anglers in general don't like flat calms - either fly or coarse - but there is no doubt in my mind that fish love these conditions.  The way I look at things; if fish are feeding and we aren't good enough to catch them, then that is our fault - not the fish and certainly not the weather!

I fished for pike last Saturday using flies and managed 2 fish - the biggest weighing 15lbs.  However, I lost bigger fish earlier in the day and thought at one stage that my fingers would drop off following a storm of rain that chilled me to the bone!

Thankfully the sun came out later in the morning and warmed things up again and got the pike active for short periods.

Martin Founds and Chris Tarrant on Chew
Me looking freezing on Saturday with my 15lb Pike

My biggest ever Brown Trout

Tags:

I can now reveal that during my recent trip down-under to Tasmania, I caught my biggest ever wild brown trout.
Chris Bassano, my good friend and ex-Derbyshire cricketer, was my guide on the Lower Derwent River.  We both saw the fish move before casting to it, but neither of us realised just how big it was!

Closer to 30lbs than 20lbs was our considered estimate, but we did not have scales and we also wanted to release it, so in truth, we will never know.  However, I have caught scores of 20lb plus pike and plenty of 20lb plus lakers from Northern Canada, so I have a pretty good idea about estimating weights.  Chris too is expert on estimating brown trout, having weighed a 28lb brownie for one of his clients in the previous week - and that was from another river!

If you want to read more about this amazing fish and see more pictures of my trip to Tasmania, then get this month's Trout Fisherman Magazine as they have the exclusive story.  Take a look at the picture below and see what you think.

1st decent Chew pike of the new season

In my last blog I reported on how difficult it has been to locate the pike on Chew this season.  Lots of things have conspired to make things tricky, but I finally landed a decent 17.08 cracker yesterday.  Armed with my new-found confidence, I was looking forward to finding a few more today, only to be scuppered by 25mph winds and all boats on Chew cancelled!

Tomorrow it looks like the winds will ease and the weekend looks good - so I'm hoping my clients and I have some decent fishing.

JH and Chris Bassano with the monster Tassie Brownie
JH with 17.08 Chew pike

Chew Autumn Pike Trials begin

I fished the first day of Pike Trials on Chew Valley Lake this Monday - what a day it was!

70 degrees heat and bright sunshine greeted the boat anglers - most of whom anchored and fished deadbaits.  This was definitely the hottest ever start to a pike trials session and my boat partner, Simon Pledge and I headed for Herons Green.  Our other friends Gavin and Gary also headed for this area - all of us determined to fish lures on the drift.

Thankfully, most of the anchored boats kept to the deep water in front of the Sailing Club or in front of Woodford Bank.

The 4 of us ended the day with over 40 pike on lures.

Simon had the best bag - his first three pike weighed 20lbs, 24lbs 8ozs and 26lbs.  Gavin Young had fish of 23lbs, 23lbs 08ozs, 19lbs and 17lbs 08ozs.  Gary and I also chipped in with several doubles up to 14lbs.

What an opening day!

Simon Pledge 26lb opening day pike
John Horsey Fly Fishing

Pike Trials begin on Monday!!!!

Today I ran a Corporate Flyfishing Day at Testside lakes in the Leckford Valley during the hottest day of the year!  I cannot remember a hotter day this season apart from the World Championships - and they were held in Italy!

Temperatures soared to over 80 degrees farenheit in many parts of the UK and in just 2 days time, we begin the Pike Trials on Chew Valley lake.

I fly fished for pike yesterday and the previous day on Chew and it was very hard - we managed just 3 jacks but saw some massive fish.  The trout fishing recently - and all through the season - has been amazing on both Chew and Blagdon Lakes, but even the trout have been hard to tempt over these past few days.

On the River Test, during this afternoon, there was not a single rising fish.  The lakes at Testside fished exceptionally well during the morning and early afternoon, but come 4:00pm, even these fish had stopped feeding.

Is this the effect of Global Warming?  Will this be the norm for our coming Autumns?  Who knows?

I bet that by Monday, the present spell of windless, hot, sunny weather has passed and is replaced by cooler, windy weather - and for once - just once; I will be relieved.  And so, I hope, will the fish.  I bet the pike trials will be brilliant and the trout fishing at the back-end on both Chew and Blagdon; will also be superb.

Watch this space ........

 

John Horsey Fly Fishing

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

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