John Horsey Fly Fishing Web Log

John's Fishing Blog

Dave Lang is new Lexus Champion

Dave Lang was yesterday crowned Lexus Champion for 2011.  Chew Valley fished incredibly well on the practice day, with some anglers recording as many as 20 fish.  The match day saw plenty of rain, but light winds meant the fish kept feeding, but they were far harder to tempt following the hammering they received during practice!

Top rod Dave used a combination of 2 Boobies, with 2 nymphs sandwiched in between - proper "washing Line" tactics utilising a Midge Tip fly line.  Not one of the 100 competitors managed their 10 fish limit, but Dave Lang and Kieran Bonas both weighed-in 9 rainbow trout. 

It was quite a day for runner-up Kieran Bonas, who isn't legally able to drive until October when he reaches his 17th birthday.  Already, the youngster won the Rutland Water Heat, beating a star-studded cast of older anglers and in the Final, he very nearly did it again.  There is no doubt that this young man is destined for great things and we all wish him the best of luck in the coming years.

Off to Italy for the World Championships

Tomorrow I head for Milan and then on to the Dolomite Mountains for the 2011 World Flyfishing Championships.

Torrential rain has seen a change in one of the River sessions, as a landslide has forced one of the Aurino River sessions to be transferred to the Rienza.  This is a great shame, as the Aurino is a fantastic river, with lots of big Marble Trout and Grayling.

These championships promise to be one of the best ever ......... or one of the worst.  Everything hinges on the weather - too warm and the snow melt will colour the rivers - too wet and the rivers will turn chocolate brown.  Last year it rained in Poland and I managed a bronze medal - this year, as long as we get a team medal, I really don't care what the weather throws at us!

You can follow the results as they happen on the official FIPS MOUCHE web site.

I will let you know how it all went in early September.  Until then, good fishing and Tight Lines.

Dave lang being presented with the keys to his brand new Lexus RX450

4 days to Lexus Final

Just 4 days to go before the new Lexus Champion is crowned.

100 anglers from all over the UK, plus the Czech Republic, France and Belgium will descend upon Chew Valley Lake near Bristol to compete for the ultimate prize in competition fly fishing - a brand new Lexus RX450 hybrid SUV worth over £50,000.  The person catching the biggest fish at the Grand Final will also win a holiday to Norway in 2012, courtesy of Anglers World Holidays.

Chew has been in superb form all season, but last week saw a green algae bloom which curtailed sport for a while.  Thankfully, the winds and rain of the last few days have dropped the algae out in many parts of the lake and the introduction of 4,000 rainbows will hopefully have stirred the resident fish into action.  By Thursday, as long as weather conditions are favourable, we should be in for a cracking match.

Grafham and Draycote

The last 2 Lexus Heats were held at Grafham Water near Cambridge and Draycote Water near Rugby - both had been fishing well all season, but for the Lexus Heats they were very tricky.  Just 6 fish was sufficient to win the day at Grafham, while Craig Barr's 8 took the honours at Draycote.

The day before the Draycote Heat, I fished a guided day there with my good friend Barry Hawyes and we managed 8 to the boat between us.  The tactics were either Dry Flies, targetting the fish that were moving on top, or a team of nymphs using a 20 foot leader for the other band of trout that were feeding deep.

We had heard of Draycote's reputation  for big fish this season and Barry had the best fish at almost 6lbs - see pic.  It was a fin perfect specimen and reminiscent of a New Zealand rainbow trout.


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 

John Synnucks PB on the fly at 21.04

New Lexus Heat added at Draycote on 31st July.

Due to popular demand, Draycote water near Rugby has been added as the final Qualifying Heat of this year's Lexus individual Championships.
The Heat will be held on 31st July and there are 30 places up for grabs.

New Fisheries manager Craig Barr has had his local anglers asking if there will be a lexus Heat on the venue, following the year's closure by Severn Trent and this has prompted the creation of an additional Heat.

I too have had competitors contacting me to ask for a Heat at this very popular venue, particularly following it's recent stunning form, where 00's of 3lb plus rainbows have been caught.

To enter, simply email or download an Entry Form from the official Website at

Tony gets his PB pike

Congratulations to Tony Bennett and the capture of his personal best ever pike on the fly weighing 28lbs at Chew last week.
I fished with Tony a few days earlier and he was snapped by a big fish which we were certain would have been his personal best.

Still, he made up for it in real style on his very next trip and I am sure his new aim is one of Chew's legendary 30 pounders!

Tagged pike

If you are fishing for pike - or trout - please look out for tags on the base of the dorsal fin.  They can be covered in algae and even have some weed growth attached, but they are quite easy to detect (once you know where to look).
I have tagged over 400 pike and am getting over 10% recaptures - no longer do we have to rely upon faded photograghs and hearsay to know if someone has caught the same fish - we can be certain!

So far, the average growth rate for a year is no more than 2lbs - even for big doubles and twenty pounders.  This has surprised even me, as I feel sure they are predating mainly on roach and perch.  Last week I had a 22lb fish which I caught myself just over a year ago and it had actually lost 2.5lbs.

I've included a pic of the above-mentioned 22lb fish, with the tag position clearly shown.  Note the bite mark across it's back which extended to the other side as well (would like to catch that big mother soon)!  So please log any tagged fish you catch with the weight, date of capture and area caught on the lake.  That way, we can build up a picture of recapture rates, distribution and weight increase/loss and have some real evidence on which to base our findings, rather than just the usual speculative nonsense!  So far, my findings are pointing to normal annual increases in weight and definitely not those associated with pike predating on 2lb average size rainbows.

Awful weather continues

I was hoping that once the terrible winds that battered us in May and June had subsided, July would bring a return to settled weather - sadly this has not happened.  I have just returned from Stocks Fly Fishery near Blackburn and the fishing was tricky - average rod returns from 3 sell-out days were less than 4 per rod and this is a very good and productive venue.  It is also superbly managed by Ben Dobson and his staff Matt, Paul and Tom.

Some of my friends have also just returned from Rutland Water where they were fishing in competitions and they told me that the fishing there was rock-hard.

Chew has also been "iffy" of late, but was just starting to improve again before I left for Stocks.  A big stocking seemed necessary to liven things up a bit and that happened 4 days ago.  Hopefully this will get the resident fish feeding, most of whom are still being caught around or behind Denny Island.
Washing Line or straight-lined nymphs are still the best 2 methods - I simply cannot get the fish up to dries at the moment - even last week when there was a massive fall of flying ants; they seemed very loathe to rise.

I think this is due to the fluctuating air pressures surrounding not just Chew, but the rest of the country at present.  Next week more unsettled weather is forecast, but at least that means cloud.


I have often said that there hasn't been a decent book on fly fishing for trout written since the Pursuit of Srtillwater Trout, written some 20 odd years ago.
Well now there is one!

A Passion for Trout is a fine book written by Irish angler Mick O'Farrell with photograghs and publishing by top fishing photographer Peter Gathercole.

Mick is a life-long trout angler, fly tier and genuine nice bloke - he is also a very fine competiton angler who genuinely knows his stuff.  I have fished with and against Mick in competitions such as the European Championships, where we were both representing our countries.

The flies are superbly photographed - so often a fault in other fishing books.  Gathercole excels here and the patterns are truly up-to-date, incorporating the latest materials.

This book will become a reference tome for many and a "must have" addition to any serious fly angler's book case!



22lb pike with tag in dorsal - note the bite mark from another pike!
Stocks Fly Fishery

Czech anglers dominate Lexus Heats

Six anglers from the Czech Republic came across to Eyebrook and Pitsford last weekend and ALL SIX qualified for the Grand Final at Chew in August!
But these were no ordinary anglers - Tomas Starychfujtu, Antonin Pesek and Pavel Chyba have all be individual World Champions.  Chyba in fact was European Champion in Ireland 2 years ago (I know him well, as he beat me into 2nd place)!!!

At a true multi International Heat at Eyebrook on Day 1, the winner was Christian Bazan from Belgium, with 3 Czech anglers also qualifying and Ton Waslander from Holland making it 5 of the 7 top places.

Day 2 saw Tomas Adam win the day for the visiting Czech anglers and he also won the heat at Pitsford the following day!

With the World Championships looming fast in Italy during late August and September, these guys will once again take a fair bit of beating - but I think our Hardy Greys Team England are up to the challenge!

Litton on top form

I recently ran a small corporate day on Litton for 4 anglers with myself and Andy Haskins as guides.  What a couple of days.  They all has plenty of rainbows, plus a few bonus brown trout and the biggest at 4lbs was caught from Upper Litton by Mark Thompson on a Damsel Nymph.

Although Upper Litton is very low, the fishing is still fantastic and Lower Litton is now bang on form following the recent green algae bloom - thankfully both lakes are now very clear.

Pike fishing still good on Chew

I had some decent pike this week - biggest at 27lbs 8ozs - and with all the wind and rain, the water is full of oxygen and the pike are chasing the roach.
Am out tomorrow and hopeful of some more good fish.

Lou Reed

Went to see Lou Reed at the Hammersmith Apollo on Monday - what a performer!  At 69 years old, he can still bang out some songs and Venus in Furs was amazing.
I know I'm showing my age, but on the same night Take That were appearing at Wembley Stadium - I would rather blank on Chew than go to watch that shower ........


My Biggest this year - 27lbs 8ozs
Mark Thomnpson's 4lb rainbow from Litton

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

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