Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

Itchen and Anton

Saturday, 8 December 2018 at 20:56

Anton Yesterday the Lower Itchen was all but unfishable. I've rarely seen a chalkstream carrying so much colour or rising so fast. The Itchen rose as we watched it, there in torrential storms. It was thick with mud. The keeper called us mad...but Howard released three big grayling to my small singleton so we didn't blank. Nevertheless, wet and dispirited, we packed up early. 'I'm surprised you lasted as long as you did,' said the keeper.

The Anton today (image left) was a great contrast. The weather was kinder though still wet and squally. We released a couple of nice grayling and some few fish were rising in the late morning, so it was a short session full of interest on a pretty beat.

Howard's Anton grayling

Saturday, 8 December 2018 at 20:51

Anton grayling Here's Howard's Anton grayling - a lovely fish pushing the pound. Upper Clatford is a short, pretty beat with ultra-clear water and it was sometimes possible to sight the grayling where they shadow-haunted the stream bed. That doesn't make them easy to catch, of course, and in the squally and wet weather we had all on to release just a couple of fish. Then again, a few olives showed in the late morning and a handful of grayling rose to them, which was good to see. I outdid myself in bungling, rising half a dozen (to a Terry's Terror, sice 18) and hooking....none, which is going it a bit even by my own splendid standards of uselessness. A charming few hours, though.


Sunday, 2 December 2018 at 15:21

Perch Strangely quiet session on the river: two jacks and four perch. The perch were lovely - four fish alike as peas in a pod - and made the worn-out end of a difficult angling year seem at least bearable. Small softbaits (Savage Gear 4Play shads), fished very slowly across the bottom on 7-10g debarbed jig hooks, seemed yet again to be the way to go. Two kingfishers combusted the early afternoon. And that was it.


Sunday, 18 November 2018 at 15:47

Perch A short session on the river. Three pike, best c.6lb. and this very handsome perch, all on small softbaits fished on 7-10g jig hooks. It was a rather quiet few hours, with fishing complicated by fell sunshine, but a very active pair of kingfishers kept me engaged while I dawdled with a rod. I may well spend some time specifically fishing for these perch during the coming winter. There are some lovely spots on the river where a worm might tempt a bigger perch. And just look at the indignantly-erect dorsal and the colour of those fins...

Bites and biters 1

Saturday, 10 November 2018 at 16:58

Bitten Generally speaking, fish don't bite. It's the wrong metaphor. They sip, suck, annexe, slurp and occasionally, wolf. Not even pike 'bite': they stalk - and at the last minute, ingest. It's then and only then that the formidable array of backward-raking teeth come into play, largely so that any prey held in that armoured pike-mouth won't escape. Occasionally, however, pike are unconvinced by an artificial lure. They'll stalk it and will even move to it....but then, instead of ingesting it, they'll nip it. And so it was today. It's true that Henry and I released a leash of pike (and one lovely perch) between us, but fish after fish moved and nipped at the mobile tails of the softbaits, to the extent that eventually I ran through a whole, and wholly pristine, 5-pack of 4Play shads. The pike, that is, seemed to act out of curiosity rather than predatory appetite.

Bites and biters 2

Saturday, 10 November 2018 at 16:56

Around 6lb. This was one of the best of them, a fish of around 6lb. that took a little shad just after lunch.

Last of the Chateau Hopeless

Friday, 2 November 2018 at 09:02

Last few grapes When I designed, constructed and planted the garden I had only two principles: (almost) anything I grew either (a) had to be edible in some way or (b) had to benefit wildlife. Four years on, the results have been staggering: nearly twenty different species of bird in the plot, and flourishing populations of butterflies, bees and insects. There have been pests, too, but generally my interventions with poisons or packets have been limited. The garden now seems very settled. It does what it was designed to do and that in turn gives us great and abiding joy.

The principles, such as they are, show nowhere more clearly than on the vines. This past summer, for all its climatic worries, has been good for fruit and I grew two spectacular vines which duly bore grapes. The grapes were perfectly edible but they were fairly small and...not bitter, exactly, but lacking in final sweetness. I left the grapes on the vines and the blackbirds (three pairs) have had a splendid, bountiful time stripping the stalks of their fruit. These birds have also become wonderfully tame - or perhaps are merely sozzled - on the last of the Chateau Hopeless.

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