Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

The first blackbird

Wednesday, 18 February 2015 at 20:49

Blackbird At 0610 this morning: that glorious thing, the liquid, mellifluous spring song of the blackbird. One of the great moments of every year.

Two bitter days

Saturday, 7 February 2015 at 20:24

Robin Just back from two bitter days on the lower Itchen, where I was ostensibly trotting for grayling. I did catch a few grayling, including one really good fish, and added a big chub, too - the last, much to my surprise. Yet the cold snap and the Arctic wind made conditions trying for both fish and fishermen, and sport was never at any time what you might call 'brisk'. One lovely feature of the days, however, was the presence of robins, who have clearly understood that anglers mean maggots and that maggots mean grub. I spent some time both yesterday and today feeding these tame little birds, who were so trusting they'd perch on the rim of the landing-net and wait for a gentle. In the air, too, there were buzzards, whose mewings could clearly be heard whenever the wind dropped (which was rarely). And in a far-bank field this morning I had a good look at a pair of deer. So these two short days were happily full of small, important things.

Of a chub

Saturday, 7 February 2015 at 20:14

Big chub I knew of course that there were both chub and roach in the lower Itchen but I never quite expected to catch a specimen chub from the river...and both Howard and I thought that this was a specimen chub (5lb+). Unfortunately the only scales I had with me weighed to 4lb. and this fish thumped them instantly to their end. And so we agreed to call this one 'around 5lb.' ('You might be a bit parsimonious with that weight, Chris,' said Howard, who knows more about big chub than I ever will, and who's to say he's not right?) We were trotting for grayling at the time and so it was ticklish work with a 3.2lb. main line and a 2lb. hook-link, but fortunately the chub, though heavy enough to put a deep bend in the rod, was fairly obliging and came quietly enough to the net.

Trotting

Saturday, 7 February 2015 at 20:09

Trotting on the Itchen It was a bitterly cold business but apart from the chub we managed to catch and release some grayling, with the best of those a singleton pushing (although I suspect not quite making) 2lb. This last was a strange fish, hand-heavy and apparently fit but with considerable scale-damage. The other grayling were much smaller, averaging 8-10oz., but all the same it was good to see the float dip at all in such raw weather. Yet when the sun shone there was something in the quality of the light that meant it could be nothing but late winter or, if you prefer, very early spring.

Ice and an otter

Tuesday, 3 February 2015 at 11:54

Ditch ice The ditches were covered in ice. The river itself was a foot too high and was coloured as well. I messed about, unconvinced and unconvincing, with the widest-bladed, most slow-working spoon I had but nothing took. I didn't expect anything to take. A poisonous wind blew from the NE. A winter sun shone fitfully and when it did, the light on the river was lambent - a beautiful glitter. Yet there was a moment when I looked into the dazzle and saw a swirl and then, fifteen yards away, a silhouette which ended in a long, tapered tail. 'My God,' I thought, 'an otter.' An otter it most definitely was. We watched each other for ten seconds at close quarters. Then the creature arched its back and disappeared silently into the dazzle. I watched its trail of bubbles seep upstream for twenty yards...thirty... and hoped to get another glimpse. I never did.

Deceivers and DVDs

Sunday, 25 January 2015 at 17:00

Deceivers I've been watching bass (fly-)fishing DVDs. The first, Fly Fishing with a Pinch of Salt, is by Mike Ladle and Geoff Hancock (Purbeck Productions, 2004, see also http://www.mikeladle.com/). Mike does a splendid job imparting much useful information, there are some fine action sequences and Mike even falls in stylishly at one point...only to emerge grinning. Admirable. The other DVD (a double disk) is A Season on the Salt with Justin Anwyl (TVMI Ltd, see also http://www.bass-fishing.co.uk). In the first DVD, Justin guides one of his chums on different days' bass fishing at different times of the season on the English south coast; in the second, he and another pal head off to Boston (USA) for some striper fishing. There are very good action sequences and also clear explanations of when and why bass hold around some coasts and underwater features and take on certain tides and not on others. So enthused was I that I tied up a handful of 3/0 Deceivers yesterday in chartreuse/white, and dreamt of summer and a flooding tide....

Of nothing much

Sunday, 25 January 2015 at 16:55

Mann's softbait and pike It was hugely, inexplicably quiet on the river. A four-hour session yielded only one smallish pike (around 5-6lb.) to the incomparable Mann's shad together with a soft bump from another. The last was a most unusual take, almost as if the pike had just nudged the lure with its nose. Maybe it had. I was the more surprised because usually at this time of year if you can get a pike to follow or swirl at a lure you can almost always get it to take solidly on a subsequent cast. Not this time. Further casts followed further casts; I changed the softbait for spoons, then for plugs; I covered the water and fished no worse than usual....and nothing happened. Oh well.

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