Chris McCully

Fishing Diary


Thursday, 17 April 2014 at 11:05

JW Grafham rainbow JW was over for a short angling break so we had a bit of a FishingFest, in three consecutive days trying our luck at Hanningfield, Avington (see below) and Grafham.The weather was... It was bright spring weather, generally speaking, but that wasn't good for fishing, with harsh sunshine, a glitter of light and easterly winds throughout. We got fish at all three places, but of the three days I suspect we enjoyed our time at Grafham most. The lake didn't give up its fish easily, but eventually this lovely water, and its rainbows, relented and we caught and released a number of very fit rainbows, retaining just two for the freezer and meals with friends. JW got a splendid fish (pictured) on a buzzer of his own tying fished static under a Booby, while late in the afternoon I started picking up fish to a White Minky retrieved slowly on a DI-6 line. It's not my favourite kind of fly-fishing but there was little rising until the later evening and.... Well, it worked, after a fashion, and it was two contented men who dawdled back to the boat dock.

Avington 1

Thursday, 17 April 2014 at 10:56

JW Avington Avington - a complex of spring-fed chalk lakes lying in deepest Hampshire - isn't, for all its fame, a fishery I thought I'd ever look at, but because JW was visiting I thought it might be instructive to spend a day there. The weather was almost tropical: good for fish-spotting, but tricky for fishing. The rainbows average 4lb. or so and there are some much bigger fish. There's also a short length of carrier stream (which runs into the Itchen). JW took first honours for catching this 4lb. rainbow on a buzzer nymph of his own tying. Subsequently I caught others (best 4½lb.) both to buzzers and to a pattern I think is rarely fished these days, Richard Walker's Mayfly Nymph (leaded), of which I'd tied a handful in memory of the great man and my own angling past. The fly still works rather well and it's also easy for the angler to see during sight-fishing and stalking. Strange, how successful artificial patterns seem to fall in and out of favour, but there we are. I think it's a great fly.

Avington 2

Thursday, 17 April 2014 at 10:52

Avington tummy Spoon contents of an average-sized Avington fish (4lb.): bloodworms, buzzers, hoglice, shrimp. It may seem to my reader that I'm unhealthily obsessed with the innards and in particular the digestive workings of fish, but this shot is instructive. The marrow spoon is a very useful diagnostic tool for a fly-fisher, though in common with so many other fly-fishers I kill and eat far fewer fish than I did thirty or forty years ago. As things were, on a hot and still afternoon at Avington, it can't be coincidental that two of our fish took buzzers fished almost static.

Some April stillwater flies

Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 08:49

April flies Water temperature on the lake is 7C and most of the fish seem to be lying 5-10 feet down and eating daphnia. There are masses of adult buzzers in the air and in the cobwebs around the landing stage but on these wide and still cool expanses of water the fish don't seem to have switched onto the hatching buzzers quite yet. Accordingly most fishers, me included, persist with sinking lines and a variety of lures - Vivas, small Minkies and so on. I thought it might be moderately interesting to my reader if I pictured au naturel a selection of the flies I actually use: lures of various kinds together with the Cove PTN and small black wet-flies, the last just in case fish are beginning to take ascending pupae. I don't say - how could I ever say? - that I catch more than the next angler, and indeed I often seem to catch rather less, but if I were to take a selection of flies to the big English stillwaters at this time of year the patterns pictured would in my view be quite a sensible selection. It won't be long, given a few days of warm, settled weather, before the fish start taking hatching buzzers in earnest and then the selection of flies would include several more closely representative patterns, including damp dries.

An April day on the lake

Tuesday, 1 April 2014 at 20:21

April rainbow Although fish were being caught, it wasn't easy. Whereas last week air temperatures were 3-5C, today was 17C and the water was flat calm all day. There was a brassy light, a hazy sun and the water surface was dobbed with clumps of floating algae. April 1st turned out to be burnished. Still, a few fish were moving sporadically to buzzers and I had a lovely shock when the line drew into this splendid rainbow, which went 4½lb. on my scales, 5lb. on the lodge scales and will therefore be recorded as 4¾lb. That's quite a good fish anywhere and I was delighted to get it, particularly as I was christening a new/second-hand rod, a B&W Powerlite 10'6" three-piece which fishes a DT6 or WF7 to perfection.

The magnificent Cove PTN

Tuesday, 1 April 2014 at 20:16

Cove PTN I was delighted that the fish had taken that non pareil among spring buzzer patterns, the Cove PTN (here tied on a Kamasan B175 size 12 hook and attached to 6lb. clear Maxima). I hate to think how many trout this simple little fly has taken over the years. I prefer tying the spring versions with darkest fibres from a cock centre tail and dub the thorax with rabbit hair. I rarely have this off the leader in April while fishing larger stillwaters. On standard set-ups it seems to fish best as a point fly.


Tuesday, 1 April 2014 at 20:08

Daphnia Just when I was congratulating myself for getting a decent trout from a flat calm on a buzzer - nice bit of representative fishing, and so forth, clever me, and so on - I took out the marrow scoop and had a look at the recent tummy contents of the fish. It was full of....buzzers? No. It was crammed to the gills with daphnia.

Daphnia are one of the stars of the stillwater piece, it seems to me. Problem is, they're impossible to represent on a hook, though the old dodges of using hot pink or fluorescent orange flies do work...sometimes. It's possible that the depth at which these things (the daphnia) are massing is more important than anything else: on hot, bright days the daphnia blooms are deep, while on mild, overcast days the daphnia sit higher in the water. Further, wind and surface/subsurface currents can push the daphnia into certain bays, and of course the rainbows tend to follow these nutritious clouds. Find the daphnia and often enough you've found the fish. It's then a question of finding the right depth. Or am I talking complete gonads?

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