Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

A murky Itchen day

Sunday, 8 January 2017 at 13:55

Howard on the Itchen Overnight rain meant the Itchen was carrying extra colour. Although Howard caught a few in the morning it was only around lunchtime, when the main river had started to clear and when the light was at its most intense (although 'intense' is a misnomer given the murkiness of the day), that we began to pick up grayling in numbers, finding one shoal in very shallow water in a crease no more than a foot or two from the bank. It was then, and only then, that we picked up satisfying numbers of grayling - fish of much better than average quality, with plenty of pounders and one or two nudging 1½lb. Red maggots, and later on, a grain of sweetcorn, worked well on 2lb. hook-links. For ninety minutes the Jolly Green Giant had a bit of a field-day, but as the colour drained out of the afternoon the grayling turned quiet, too.


Monday, 2 January 2017 at 11:36

1966 Plus ça change....

A short trip to the river recently saw only a bare handful of roach, perch and dace. Yet it was a pretty weirpool swim and much was charming and good. It struck me that work with the leger (and more specifically, the swimfeeder) might tempt bigger chub, so that was one - in fact my only - New Year's resolution: don't mess about with maggots, but get out there with the old tin of Spam and see if there are chevins lurking on the outside of some of those rush-girt bends...


Monday, 26 December 2016 at 16:15

Cherry For the past fifteen and more years, and with very few gaps, I've been out on Boxing Day to try and catch a pike. Today, on a reach of the river I hadn't fished before, I kept asking myself why I was bothering: the pike were utterly disinclined, there was an unlovely combination of cold wind and fell sunshine, and the result of several hours' fishing was one jack - a jack with so much attitude that it had clearly, and recently, won the Smallest Pike in the World contest. Yet I watched a kingfisher for twenty minutes - that brilliant and enigmatic blue, lit by winter sunshine - and in some local gardens and churchyards, winter-flowering cherry mimicked snowflakes.


Friday, 16 December 2016 at 10:49

Misericord Misericords - 'acts of mercy', or folding seats placed in churches to save medieval, monkly bottoms during long hours of prayer - are astonishing. Under these folding wooden seats the original carpenters (who had free rein to construct these carvings from invention rather than from piety) offered humour, or profanity, or poignant, beautifully-made renderings of the natural world. Here's a bird-carving - a blackbird, I think - from a misericord in St. Gregory's, Sudbury. It struck me that any writer or researcher who wanted to plumb medieval minds and their relationship with the natural world could do a great deal worse than to study misericords.

Mixed bag (1)

Saturday, 10 December 2016 at 16:05

Perch A few short hours on the river, trotting a float with cane and 'pin. I took different baits with me - hemp, small brandlings and red worms, bread, and sweetcorn. Some roach took a single grain of sweetcorn fished over a smear of hempseed groundbait, while two wonderful dace (see below) and this handsome perch fell for small red worms. There was no real pattern to it but I thoroughly enjoyed myself on what would otherwise have been a damp, dispiriting and drear day.

Such handsome fish, perch. I'm remarkably fond of them.

Mixed bag (2)

Saturday, 10 December 2016 at 16:01

Dace This is a cracking dace, one of a matched brace. What d'you think? 10oz? Half a pound? They took small brandlings and were lovely dace, anyway - more than welcome on a day that never quite got light and faded at dusk into a smirr of dark and rain.

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. 

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