Trout

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

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

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

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

Chew starts with a bang!

Chew has been open for over a week now and it has seen some incredible fishing!  Even on the coldest of days, buzzers have hatched all over the lake and the Chew trout have been feasting on them.
I have been fishing dries whenever the winds have dropped and even though the first week was very cold, these last few days have seen the air temperatures rise to over 16 degrees, with water temperatures over 10 degrees.

Lots of anglers have been fishing DI3 and DI5 lines with blobs, boobies and nymphs and they have caught well.  Others have used straight lined nymphs on floaters, washing lines with booby and nymphs and some of us have been targetting rising fish with dries - amazing!

It was the washing line that accounted for John Tabor's cracking 3lb plus Chew rainbow - overwintered and fin perfect.  John and son Anthony had a good day on the trout, even though the winds were freezing and the day was interspersed with rain storms!

The pike fishing has also been pretty good for the time of year and all of my clients have landed pike on the fly.  Best results to date go to first time pike on the fly angler Olly Seymour, who boated pike of 8:04, 13:08 and 18:08 yesterday.  I also chipped in with one of 24lbs to make it a real day to remember!

If you havent got a Chew boat booked yet, then my advice is to do it as soon as possible!!!!

John Tabor with an overwintered Chew rainbow
Olly Seymour's 18:08 Chew pike
Me with my 24lb Chew pike

Bookings being taken for 2014 Season!

The new season is only a few weeks away, with Blagdon opening on 15th March and Chew Valley a week later on 22nd March.
Now is the time to think about getting new tackle; spools of leader materials, tying some new fly patterns, investing in that new rod or reel you've been promising yourself and of course, booking some days on your favourite fisheries.

My bookings have been pretty heavy this year already, with only 5 days remaining in March, 2 days in May and 10 days left in June.  April is still fairly clear and judging by the recent levels and previous seasons, should be a good month.  If the weather stays warm, then it should be a brilliant month, with plenty of fly and most fish feeding on buzzer pupae and bloodworm.

If you fancy a guided day fly fishing for trout - or perhaps scaling up a bit and trying for pike on the fly - then drop me an email via the "Contacts" page.  I can supply all tackle for trout or pike and there is no extra charge for this.

Both Chew and Blagdon are now overflowing and looking fantastic.  Bristol Water are doing their usual repairs and maintenance to their two fleets of boats and they will all be ready for Opening Days.
 

Blagdon Fishing Lodge
Blagdon spillway overflowing
Chew overflowing at a rate of knots!

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

Chew's amazing start continues

The strong winds have dropped and Chew's incredible start to the trout fishing season continues!
I fished with Rob Ratcliff yesterday and rose fish every drift in Herons Green Bay using Dries.  The buzzers were hatching all day long - big ones - and the trout were feasting on them.  I cannot remember when the trout have fought so hard on Chew and all of our fish were 3lbs and over.
We had 2 cormorant damaged trout but no pike damage - I think anglers cannot tell the difference between pike and cormaorant damage and are simply labelling everything as pike damage.

Pike on buzzers

My friend martin Cottis did an autopsy on a 6lb pike he caught on a Diawl Bach Nymph and guess what it had been feeding on? Buzzer - it was stuffed with nothing but black buzzer nymphs, proving that the odd capture of a pike on a nymph is not a coincidence - these smaller pike obviously have buzzers high on their list of food.

I also caught a 20lb pike on "black" Friday 13th May and it had one of my tags in it's dorsal fin rays.  I have tagged over 300 pike since the start of last season and over 10% have been recaptured.  Along with Bristol Water, this sampling enables us to check on the growth rate, recapture rate and movement of the pike. Incredibly, when I checked my records, it was caught on the very same day exactly 1 year ago by Mark Thompson and it weighed 17lbs 08ozs - just 2 1/2lbs weight increase in a whole year.  This shows that the likely diet for that fish was roach and not trout.  Over the course of a year, a big double eating trout at 2lbs average weight would have increased in weight by far more than a measly 2 1/2lbs!
Those sadly misguided individuals who are blaming the pike for Chew's poor form in recent years, are obviously way off the mark  A few years ago, they were blaming the cormorants whenever the fishing got hard - now it's the pikes' turn to carry the can!

First cuckoo

Friday 13th also heralded the first cuckoo on Chew this year.  For me, this is a real sign that Summer is on it's way.
I also saw a Hobby chasing insects in Villice Bay on the same day - so not such a "black" day after all!

With the 10 day forecast predicting a spell of warm weather with light winds - the fishing could get even better.

John with 20lb tagged 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.

Predation

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.

Birds

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

Blagdon's Fantastic Opening Day

What a stunning opening day we had on Blagdon today!
The weather could'nt have been better - light winds and overcast skies - perhaps a tad warmer, but hey - it is mid March!

We couldn't get a touch for the first couple of hours, but by midday, when we moved the boat closer to the shorelines - we hit the proverbial jackpot.
Simon caught the first 3 rainbows - all on the pointfly; a Gold Head Montana, fished on a floating fly line.
I fished a team of nymphs on a floater and started to get take after take on either a Black Buzzer or a JC Black Diawl Bach Nymph.

We never changed from floating lines all day!

There was no appreciable difference in the weather conditions during the afternoon - it didn't feel warmer, but things started to happen.

By 4:00pm, we had both caught over a dozen trout each and had released most of them - the surprising thing was that the best areas were within 50 metres from the bank.
Bells Bush at the Top End was sensational, as was Wood Bay and Green Lawns.  Butcombe fished it's socks off and we did one last drift into Polish Water before going home - both of us releasing 2 rainbows.

If you are going to Blagdon in the next few days, I hope that you have as good a day as we have just enjoyed.

John Horsey Fly Fishing
John Horsey Fly Fishing

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