Chew Valley Lake

At this point in the year, it’s a bit of an in between time for me, the grayling and pike fishing has come to an end but the river season is still a couple of weeks away. With the need to scratch an itch, I planned a spur of the moment trip to Chew Valley Lake.

Chew valley lake

Social media, love it or hate it, provides invaluable up to date fishing reports from various venues across the country. Having seen the recent reports from Chew, numerous reports of big catch numbers and quality fish, these only fuelled my eagerness to get out there and throw a line.

It’s all too easy to get to the day and decide for whatever reason not to visit the water, so with that in mind I played my personal trump card and booked and paid for my permit the day before so there was nothing going to get in my way come the day.

Chew valley Lake

One thing I hadn’t banked on was the big rise in temperature overnight and into the day itself. This seemed to switch the fish off and had slowed down sport considerably from previous days.

I turned up and started off at Woodford bank. The weather was overcast with heavy drizzle which again was not in the forecast I was looking at. A steady South-westerly breeze blew from right to left, perfect conditions! The warmth on the day had encouraged a steady buzzer hatch, surely the fish had to be in the mood to feed?

I started out with an intermediate line, an 18 foot leader with a damsel on the point, black buzzer on the middle dropper and a diawl bach on the top.

After 45 minutes of moving along the bank between casts and not even a sniff I decided a change was in order. I cut off the leader and switched the spool on the reel to a Di5 and repeated the process. Again, all in vain. Time for a fly change, I set up a new leader with a sunburst booby on the point and a pink blob on the dropper. The next half our produced zero interest despite counting down through all of the depths and trying every retrieve in the book.

Only one thing for it, time for a move, so headed over to Nunnery, another area of deep water. I stuck with the lures and it wasn’t long before a nice fish hit the booby on a fast roly-poly retrieve. Moving around Nunnery I added another 3 fish, all safely returned. I also had plenty of knocks and lots of follows, hanging the flies at the end of the retrieve saw plenty of interest but no solid hook ups. The fish were definitely not committing on the day. This was probably down to the big increase in temperature, as we know, fish don’t like big changes and today seemed to be proving the point.

It was enjoyable session with quality fish all in the 3lb to 5lb bracket, but wind really got up in the early afternoon and the fishing slowed, so I decided to end the day and head home as I’d had a few fish and new things were only going to get rougher weather-wise. As ever, on the larger waters you do really need to go in search of the fish, if you’re not getting any interest move to another spot, if you persevere you will usually be rewarded.

Big Brown Trout in the sunshine

Big brown trout and glorious sunshine were the order of the day on Saturday’s Vale House Kitchen beginners fly fishing course, which I was hosting at the awesome Manningford Fishery.

If you have never fished at Manningford Fishery before, I urge you to take a trip, it’s a really well run fishery with good facilities and quality fish that are all grown at the onsite fish farm. Fishery manager Malcolm and his assistant Fen  will be on-hand  with a friendly welcome and up to date advice for the fishing.

Manningford trout fishery
The stunning Manningford Fishery

On this particular course, my wife Gilly decided to come  along and lend a hand with landing guests fish etc., although she is not a regular fly angler herself, she is always keen to wet a line herself and today was no different.

I had set her up first thing in the day with a Snowbee Classic 9′ #4/5 kit  , although this is an entry level kit from Snowbee, it’s a quality outfit, with the rod in particular a real little gem, it’s an easy to cast blank, a little forgiving with timing but powerful enough to tame decent fish.  With kit in hand, Gilly was soon wandering the banks in search of a fish or two.

I was giving a talk by the fishing lodge to the guests about flies and fly selection, when out of the corner of my eye I saw Gilly’s rod hooped over as another angler netted a fish for her.  To be honest, I thought she had a fish stuck in a snag and was struggling to land it until the fish was lifted clear of the water in the net. From a distance the fish looked to be a fair lump, and then up close it was obvious the fish was a new personal best brownie for her, it tipped the scales at 6lb 11oz and what a stunning fish it was!

brown trout
A stunning Manningford brown trout