John Horsey Fly Fishing Web Log

John's Fishing Blog

Salmon in Ireland

Last week I spent some time in the North West of Ireland fishing for salmon.  We were hoping to film the trip and top angling photographer Peter Gathercole was there to take the photo's for Trout and Salmon Magazine.  But the continued wet Summer conspired to make things really difficult for us.

When we arrived, the River Mourne was 7 feet higher than usual and in a dirty flood, so we switched to the River Finn.  Also high, being a spate river, it dropped nicely for the second day and we were more than hopeful - but all 6 of us failed to catch a fish.  The next day, Sid caught a clean run 7lb salmon and I managed a small fish from a pool way up the river.  Peter had another fish on Day 3, but not the biggie we were hoping to catch.

By the 4th day, the River Mourne had dropped to just 18 inches above normal and we managed 5 fish between us, with the biggest at 14lbs falling to my rod from the famous Snaa Pool.

Thankfully that was sufficient for the article and also provided some filmed footage, so the trip turned out to be a success.  But that is the fragility of salmon fishing - one day too little water, the next day too much.  We hit it just about right on one day out of 7 and that day produced the goods.

Back on Chew for trout

The day after I returned, it was back to work as usual and that meant fishing on Chew for trout with my good friend Barry Hawyes.  Day 1 was sunny and windy, normally the kiss of death for Chew - but not this time.  We both fished deep nymphs and boated 9 trout for just under 27lbs - what a bag!

Next day, we had 10 fish, losing a few and missing several and this time they weighed 24lbs 8ozs.  Overcast skies meant that the fish were higher in the water, but still the nymphs did the business, rather than dries or lures.

Lexus Final on Chew this weekend

The weather for the middle part of this week is forecast to be pretty rough, but thankfully by Friday, light winds should prevail, making it almost perfect conditions for the Lexus Individual Final on Saturday, with official practice on Friday.  I am really hoping that Chew continues to fish well for the biggest event of the year and that the 100 competitors enjoy some fantastic sport.

My 14lb Salmon from Ireland's River Mourne
Barry Hawyes with a 3lb plus Chew Rainbow

My 1st Chew 30lb Pike this season on the fly

At long last, the Chew pike have made an appearance - and what an appearance!

I fished 4 times this week with clients and we have had some cracking sport, with the best fish weighing in at 30lbs 10ozs.  That fish fell to my rod, although my guest for the day, Stephen Bates, also had a Personal Best fly caught pike of 20lb 4oz, plus we both had doubles and jacks to take our score well over the 100lb mark!

PAC Chairman John Synnuck and I started the campaign off with 14 fish over 2 days for 250lbs; the best fish weighing 23lbs 4ozs.

Later in the week I fished with Vincent Middleton and we had a 20lb and 19lb fish in our 10 fish haul.

It looks like the roach shoals have started to congregate and this is always the key to the best pike fishing, as they simply do not target the trout in their absence.  This season has been difficult for pike due to the very late spawning and unprecedented high water levels - in fact, the lake is still overflowing, which has never happened before in August in Chew's 56 year history.

Trout fishing also good

The trout fishing is good on Chew providing the wind and sun does not conspire to ruin things.  Try along the edge of the weedbeds off Moreton and Stratford for some truly huge rainbows, using washing line tactics with Diawl bachs and Crunchers.  Dry fly is also working, but don't be afraid to twitch them to simulate corixae.

Herons Green is also another top spot, with straight lined nymphs being favourite.

But due to the high water levels and the lack of weedbeds this season, the trout are really well spread and anglers are even catching over the Roman Shallows area and across the middle.  The North Shore and Picnic Areas also hold plenty of fish and Wick Green is fishing well.

Blagdon has been fishing it's head off for weeks now and the quality of the fish is superb.  Rugmoor is great for the boats, with any of the points around the lake good for bank anglers.  Try Butcombe Bay and Pipe Bay with both nymphs and dries, but on tricky days, I have had loads of success with a DI3 Sinker, using an Orange blob on the top dropper, 2 Diawl bachs in the middle and a Sparkler Booby on the point - believe me, it is truly great sport having follows and bow-wavers chasing your flies!

Salmon here I come!

I am off to Ireland to fish for salmon on the Rivers Mourne and Finn next week.  Apparently there are loads of fish in the river systems due to the wet summer and levels are still unusually high for the time of year.

We will be filming the trip and Peter Gathercole will be taking the stills to cover the action in Trout and Salmon Magazine.

Lexus Final on 1st September.

Yesterday I completed the last Heat of the Lexus Individual Championships at Draycote Water near Rugby.  We also had a Heat at Ravensthorpe the previous day, so now we have 100 Qualifiers who will be fishing at Chew Valley Lake on 1st September trying to win the ultimate prize in fly fishing - the keys to a Lexus RX450 Hybrid SUV worth over £50,000!

Sky TV will be covering the event and some of the World's best fly anglers will be taking part.

My 30lb 10oz Chew Pike
Steve bates with his 20 pounder
Vincent Middleton andf a 19lb Chew fish


This year's Lexus Individual Final will be filmed and shown on Sky Sports TV.

The Grand Final will be filmed at Chew Valley Lake near Bristol on Saturday 1st September and the confirmation by Sky TV that they are covering the Event is fantastic in raising the profile of Europe's biggest fly fishing championships.

100 Qualifiers will attend the Final and all will be hoping to win the star prize of a Lexus RX450 Hybrid SUV worth almost £60,000!

There are still 3 Regional Heats to be held;
Grafham Water on 5th August
Ravensthorpe on 9th August and
Draycote on 10th August

Places are available at all 3 Heats.

To book your place email:



Due to the cancellation of the CLA Gamefair this weekend, Sportfish at Theale, Reading, have initiated a brand new "Mini Game Fair which will be held on Saturday 21st July.

I have been invited to promote my new DVD entitled WORLD FISHING ADVENTURES with JOHN HORSEY.

This is a great opportunity to meet with friends new and old to discuss all types and styles of fishing.

I am booked into the Lecture Room to showcase the Tasmania section of the DVD and to do a "Question and Answer" session on all matters fishy.

Hardy and Greys will be represented also and there are plenty of angling stars to meet on the day.

Anglers World Holidays will also be represented by Martin Founds and Shimano's Dave Lewis will be there to chat about his sea fishing adventures across the globe.





The constant rain has scuppered yet another Annual Event - this time it is the CLA Game fair at Belvoir Castle which has fallen foul of the weather for 2012, as contractors battled in vain to erect the site due to the waterlogged grounds.
Even 48 hours of dry weather was not enough to help the situation and with the forecast of more rain to come, the organisers had to make the difficult decision to cancel this year's premier outdoors sporting event.

As it happens, I was attending the 3 day event for the first time in many years and would have been on the Anglers World Holidays stand.

What a bummer of a Summer!!!!!

Chew overflowing in July!!!!

It's now the 8th July - mid Summer - and Chew Valley Lake is completely full, overflowing, with plenty of extra water still gushing in from the Nature reserve at Herriots.

I drove over to the lake today and photograghed both sides of the equation - dirty water pouring in and amazing amounts flowing out - more like a waterfall than a spillway!

It's hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago, we were in the midst of a drought and a hosepipe ban.

Blagdon Lake is also overflowing and I cannot find anyone who works for Bristol Water that has ever witnessed such high water levels at this time of the year.  I actually think that conditions are more akin to early April rather than early July.  The trout are feeding on bottom dwelling insects such as shrimp, hoglice and bloodworm - frequently close to the shorelines.  However, in the evenings they come up and sometimes feed on buzzer or sedge, the latter being very unusual.

Yet in the daytime, most fish are caught close to the surface using nymphs, blobs and boobies using floating or intermediate lines.

Whenever the winds are light, the fishing is superb, particularly in the corners of the dam, off Stratford and Moreton Banks, all across Herriots and off the reeds near Wick Green.

Herriots Nature Reserve where the water pours in
The Chew Spillway
Millions of gallons of water heading back into the River Chew

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