Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

Roach and wet feet

Sunday, 4 December 2016 at 15:12

River roach A lovely stamp of roach on a cold day. There were no bites you could call decisive: the float just dithered and submerged slightly, without at any time being pulled under. This roach took a grain of sweetcorn and I think I could have done better if I'd stayed till dusk, but unfortunately I got two terminally wet feet after retrieving float, shot and line from a snag in a boggy place. Wringing out one's socks in temperatures of 4C tends to take the zest out of the day, one finds. 

Out of the mouths....

Sunday, 13 November 2016 at 15:55

November study Little girl (c.5 yrs.) going for a riverside walk with Mum and Dad; she sees weary middle-aged angler throwing a Kuusaamo Professor at the water, drawing it back and hurling it out again.

Little girl: What's that? Is it a fish?
Me: It's the stylisation of a little fish. A fake fish. A Kuusaamo Professor, size 1H. A spoon.
Little girl: I like that red bit. What's it for?
Me: Good question. One theory is that a touch of red mimics the wounds that you sometimes find on a real prey... Some sort of injured perch or roach, say. Another theory would be that the touch of red shows up well in this clear water, and acts as a trigger for the pike or perch.
Little girl: A....tigger... [Laughs.]
Me: Trigger, yes. Incites a pike or perch to take the lure. Perch are particularly susceptible to that end of the colour spectrum.
[Long pause.]
Little girl: Have you got any friends?

[Angler in image: Henry Downes.]

Polishing the spoons

Saturday, 12 November 2016 at 10:11

Spoons Spoons - well-made spoons - are great pike lures. They can be worked slowly sink-and-draw; cast and fished under undercut banks; presented just under the surface (fished with a high rod-tip).... So they're versatile and tough. Of spoons still available I like old Blair-type copper-and-silver spoons (c.27-30g), Kuusaamo Professors (size IH - 27g) and some of the Abu range (the Abu Atom, 20g, for instance). Although I used to spend part of every autumn in Holland fishing spoons for pike, it's several years now since I've fished spoons with any intent. In the interim, the collection of hardware has lain in the lure-boxes and the metals and surfaces have become tarnished. This morning I set to with a cleaning rag and some Brasso and Silvo, though there's another proprietary cleaner - stuff called Peek - which works well on all polished metal. John Wilson once advised the use of Peek on pike metalwork, and it's a good tip; it works on perch and sea-trout spinners as well. Thus buffed, pike spoons are even more attractive to pike than they were before they were pimped.

And thereby hung a tail....

Sunday, 6 November 2016 at 14:59

Tails...or not This was a most odd little pike session. Nothing much happened for the first hour and a half. There was just the grinning wind, the malevolent gusts, brittle sunshine (the countryside was briefly in flames) giving way to cold and horizontal rain. A pike nipped at the shad half-heartedly: the shad duly lost its tail and the pike didn't come again. I tried the usual tricks: change of angle, change of lure, change of speed. Nothing worked. Half an hour later another pike did exactly the same as its relative: a useless tail-nip. Wait a bit... Change of lure, angle, speed.... That didn't work, either. It was such a contrast to what happened just seven days ago, when the pike were full-throated in their shad-appreciation. Yet of course over the past few days, winter has arrived, and in these temperatures the pike are perhaps less inclined to chase and seize: too much effort; too much energy wasted. By ten to one there was only one thing left to do. A fairly splendid pie was calling me to take....

Lunch

Sunday, 6 November 2016 at 14:56

Lunch ...lunch. Yet strangely, as soon as I'd discussed what was a fairly splendid pie, the pike began to take. In the subsequent hour, when anyone sensible would have been sleeping off the effects of the cholesterol, I moved four and released two. They weren't big fish - 5-6lb.  apiece - but the activity made a change from the faffing and tail-biting of the morning.

Brown

Saturday, 5 November 2016 at 16:14

Brown It's the present-day equivalent of a sin, to wish time away, but I'm no great fan of November. There are fishing days during this month when the year simply seems.... battered, bruised, blown. Once the last of the leaves are gone the light turns brown and it's early dark. The month seems tired. I seem tired. And so it was today. There were compensations - a sudden glimpse of a kingfisher, for instance - but a radical drop in pressure and a strengthening northerly wind didn't help pike fishing chances much. In the event, the pike weren't nearly as active as they proved to be last weekend, when air and water temperatures were considerably higher. I managed to release just three, with the best (please see below) at 89cm. A bonny fish, surely - and yet, yes, it was a weary sort of day. A brown day.

A double

Saturday, 5 November 2016 at 16:10

Double figures I think this was certainly a double-figure pike: 89cm on the tape. It took some sort of fire-tiger-pattern softbait. A dour tussle ensued, out there in the wind and the brown light. It swam off very strongly after being unhooked and that was good to see.

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