Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

Skye 1

Sunday, 21 September 2014 at 21:29

Calm beauty Just back from a blessed fortnight on Skye. It's thirty years since I was last on the island. I imagined, before we set off up the long road North, that I'd be able to fish for small wild brown trout, with perhaps the chance of a salmon and the barest chance of a sea-trout, even though numbers of these last wonderful fish have declined radically over the past decades. Even those hopes were predicated on 'normal' Skye weather - westerlies, rain-squalls hurling in from the Atlantic and so on. As it happened, the weather was (and remained) almost tropical, with continual, almost unbroken sunshine and day after day of flat calms. For (freshwater) fishing it was hopeless, but for a family holiday it was glorious and we walked to many parts of the island I'd never laid eyes on before. The hills and clouds stood on their own reflections, the dogs were in their element and everywhere was the sort of calm beauty that one's lucky to witness perhaps once in a lifetime.

Skye 2

Sunday, 21 September 2014 at 21:23

Travelling light I took along fly-rods, standard loch patterns, a net and a shoulder bag. The general idea was to fish some of the hill lochs. Although I spent a couple of short sessions on the Storr lochs, I barely got out onto the hill lochs to fish, although I walked up to several of them with Monika and the dogs, including some fairly remote waters which I'd imagine barely see a fly-fisher from one season to the next. One lovely thing about the trip, however, was meeting two German visitors, Uli and Rita, who were fishing on the island for the first time and to whom I gave a handful of what I thought might be useful artificial patterns.They walked up to some of the hill lochs in the north of the island and I was delighted when the following day they reported that the patterns had duly conjured a trout out of an almost flat calm.

Skye 3

Sunday, 21 September 2014 at 21:17

Pollack In the event I spent a few sessions on local estuaries or tide-races. Here and there I could watch handfuls of small sea-trout in the air as darkness fell, but they were few indeed (certainly when compared to the numbers of yesteryear). Generally I fished with light spinning gear and picked up both pollack and coalfish, the former running to 3-4lb. They were good fun on 10lb. line and long, narrow spoons which in a former life I fished over Scottish sea-trout. I enjoyed these little sessions, I confess, and spent much time watching birds or merely watching light move among the small waves, the creases of the tide....

Skye 4

Sunday, 21 September 2014 at 21:15

Skye sunset  ...and the sunsets were often magnificent.

Of a bass

Friday, 29 August 2014 at 20:40

Bass tackle Before we came back to England I read a great deal about how bass could be found in some of the nearby estuaries. And somehow, the idea of trying to catch a bass seized me. I love estuaries, for one thing - wide spaces and open light. For another, I could just about begin to imagine how bass might forage at different stages of the tide. Yet until today I'd done little (except some sporadic reconnaissance) about actually trying to catch an English bass. I set off with spinning gear and a waterproof rucksack (brand name: Overboard, an excellent buy) and as the tide flooded found enough clear water in which to work a lure - the excellent 28g Dexter Wedge. I'd been fishing for no more than five minutes when the rod went over with a solid thump. I wish I could tell you it was a 5lb-er but it was just a little schoolie of around 13 inches. I was absolutely delighted. As the tide flooded and then ebbed the wind veered to the NW and that was disagreeable because what was now an on-shore breeze brought all sorts of floating weed with it. That made fishing tiresome, but nevertheless....I'd caught a bass. It's been quite a week: wild East Anglian trout, and now a lure-caught bass. Sometimes, truly, the angling gods relent a little.

The Lazarus stream

Wednesday, 27 August 2014 at 07:21

The stream It's sometimes said that there are no trout streams in East Anglia. Last night I fished an East Anglian trout stream under the expert gaze of Glenn Smithson (to whom many thanks for this kind invitation). The stream in the shot has been rehabilitated over many years by the sheer persistence and hard work of Glenn and others, and now provides fishing for wild brown trout (and chub and dace). And further, what you're looking at in this image is a stream that has been engineered: years ago this same stretch of water, now full of meanders, riffles and pools, was a lifeless and level ditch. It was an astonishing experience to fish here and to witness a big hatch of sedges - to which the trout, chub and dace duly responded. This was one of the highlights of the season.

Wild East Anglian trout

Wednesday, 27 August 2014 at 07:17

Wild trout It was astonishing to find trout - and wild trout, at that - feeding avidly in this reconstituted river. They were picking off occasional sedges - flies from an abundant hatch - that had unluckily found their way onto the surface. This little fish is one of four I released last night, with the best around 10oz. In what's been a difficult season, and one in which I've often fished badly, this evening session was a joy.

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