Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

Small is fine 1

Saturday, 13 October 2018 at 15:11

7.2cm shad After last weekend's experiences of (some) pike nipping and following without taking I decided to experiment. 'Small is fine,' I thought, so used a much smaller shad than usual (7.2cm) on a single 5g, size 2 jig hook. I also scaled down the trace diameter, using some thin but strong 17lb. test wire with a BB swivel and small snap-link. The results were surprising: seven pike moved; five hooked, netted and released, with the best three running 70cm (2) and 75cm (1); and a couple of handsome perch for good measure. I liked so much about this short session: a hunch confirmed; the warmth of the day and the generous light; the relative ease with which these pike - fine, I grant you they were small pike, but they were good for the river - could be unhooked and released.... I had a lovely few hours of pike fishing and wandering, accompanied by late dragonflies, sedges and a pair of kingfishers. It was a session full of activity and interest.

Small is fine 2

Saturday, 13 October 2018 at 15:02

Pike release The frame of the big pike net is 70cm across at its widest. This pike spanned that exactly. Shortly after releasing it I netted and released another the same size, and half an hour later encountered another whose tail overlapped the net rim by 5cm, making - er - 75cm by my maths. Given a fit pike - and this one was - that's around 6½lb. in old money. It was grand to meet such hard-scrapping fish. They even put a respectable bend into the rod and took line from the clutch of the multiplier. Unhooking them, via the single hook, was child's play - the work of a moment and a forceps- or finger-twist. And they swam off strongly, two of them with a tail-lash that was all contempt.

Small is fine 3

Saturday, 13 October 2018 at 14:59

Perch And of course with these small shads there's always the chance of picking up some good perch. Such handsome fish, perch. Once caught, they seem to bristle with righteous indignation. I could admire them all day long.

No cigar

Sunday, 7 October 2018 at 15:13

Little 'un First trip of this pike season, working softbaits over the dying weedbeds. Water temperature 12C, air temp. at best 15C, light SW. Moved 10+ (including a giant), hooked 6, landed 4, all small. Best around 5lb. Plenty of action but somehow I fished badly, and therefore.... Close, but no cigar. It was noticeable that several of the pike simply showed and swirled at the lures without taking them, or followed and nipped. They seemed curious rather than hungry.

Fiddling with spiders

Saturday, 6 October 2018 at 13:21

Holographic spiders The light in the study isn't right for photography but the image at least gives a fair impression: I've been fiddling about with spiders and other classic Northern wet-flies, trying to work in strands of holographic tinsel to standard dressings. To the left of the image, for example, are a couple of Woodcock and Reds (a classic spring pattern) together with the variants of the same pattern tied with red holographic bodies (top left). These last seem to me perhaps worth an experiment, especially when notionally cast to autumn and winter grayling. The Peacock Spider variants (mid), tied with red holographic ribbing, are already tried-and-tested and I wouldn't be without them.

Rage for spiders

Sunday, 30 September 2018 at 14:22

Spiders Periodically a soft bout of homesickness breaks out. This usually manifests itself as an absolute need - almost a rage - to tie up some spiders, relive old Yorkshire fishing days and dream of Northern days to come. At the same time I make plans - the plans don't often come to anything, except when they do - and imagine an autumn crease filled with grayling, or the first hatches of March Browns and LDO next spring.

For all their simplicity I don't find Yorkshire spiders the easiest of flies to tie: shade of hackle (as here - partridge with a brown list for the Orange Partridge and with a greyish list for the Yellow Partridge) as well as proportion has to be right. But what fish-getters these flies are, and not just on their home waters. I wouldn't be without an Orange Partridge on the chalkstreams, for instance.


A raspberry at the summer

Friday, 28 September 2018 at 09:48

Raspberries Dreadful cliché, an angler grumbling about the weather, but for fishing it's been the worst (spring and) summer I can remember. The Beast from the East knocked out large parts of the spring; May was reasonable, though I was hard-pressed and only managed three trips; June to August was wretched - many of my Yorkshire friends simply stopped fly-fishing for trout: it was unreasonable to stress trout further. The two trips I've had recently were attended by storms (Ali and Bronagh). Now, in this part of England, river levels have shrunk back to critically low and the reservoirs are well down. I wish for a mildish, wet autumn and winter - something...normal. Though what now is normal?

Still, we've had plenty of fruit. This morning I stole the last raspberries from the birds. Summer's at an end.

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