Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

Dewhurst, Reffitt and Halford

Sunday, 22 May 2016 at 10:18

Mr. Reffitt's painting There was a reason I wanted to go back to the Wharfe: it was to see a painting of a brown trout (caught by Mr. H.E. Dewhurst in 1905) by J.W. Reffitt. Reffitt was the 'northern wet-fly angler' whom Halford watched fishing on the Test in 1899. Over six days in April Reffitt got seven trout weighing 9lb. 2oz. and Halford confessed he was 'somewhat surprised at the result'. (There's a whiff of condescension: Halford was at this time codifying - as he probably thought - dry-fly practice, so successful wet-fly fishing on the chalkstreams was something he'd cock at least one eyebrow at.) Now, I've looked at this painting, which hangs in the Tennant Arms at Kilnsey, for many years without realising what I was looking at: J.W. Reffitt has an honourable place in angling history and clearly he was no mean artist, either. The Reffitt/Halford story, incidentally, is recorded in Tony Hayter's wonderful F.M. Halford and the Dry-Fly Revolution (London: Robert Hale, 2002 [p.130]), a book I warmly recommend.

Wharfe brown trout

Sunday, 22 May 2016 at 10:12

Wharfe brown trout The quality of the stocked trout on the Wharfe was outstanding and the fish ran to what were - so it seemed to me at least - astonishing sizes. Here's a good fish from one of the mid-river dubs, a trout I found mooching about taking scraps of nothing from the surface film: Stewart's Black Spider, size 18, proved to be the correct medicine.

Driffield Days (1)

Sunday, 22 May 2016 at 10:08

A good brown trout Interesting two days at Driffield. On the first the trout were feeding hard to black gnats and hawthorns, particularly in the early afternoon; on the second, despite what felt like identical conditions, the fish were in a much quieter mood. Here's one of the best I released, a fish certainly pushing 2lb. It took a parachute Black Gnat (size 18) and put up quite a tussle.

Driffield Days (2)

Sunday, 22 May 2016 at 10:04

Ready Brown trout at Driffield are fished for on a catch-and-release basis, so barbless or debarbed hooks are the rule. A long-handled landing-net is useful, too. Here's a decent sort of brown trout recovering in the net before release: lovely to see these fish swim off strongly. I caught and released one from a certain spot and found it on station and feeding again in the same place later that same day.

The Happy Sampler

Tuesday, 10 May 2016 at 17:01

Happy days My friend and colleague James Canton (author of, among other works, that splendid book Out of Essex [2013]) came along today to help me do some Riverfly surveying work on the Stour. It poured with rain all morning but that didn't seem to dent our enthusiasm. We collected a wonderful sample and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

  You can watch James talking most interestingly about Out of Essex on

Mayfly on the Stour

Tuesday, 10 May 2016 at 16:57

Mayfly dun Easy to understand in this image why the Irish call mayfly duns 'greendrakes'. These were the first mayflies I've seen this year and very welcome they were. So dark olive were the abdomens of these first-come duns that I thought for a moment that they were E. vulgata, but I was wrong. They're just rather darkly olive mayflies, E. danica. I've only ever seen vulgata mayflies on Tittesworth reservoir in Staffordshire, and that was very many years ago.

Mayfly nymph

Tuesday, 10 May 2016 at 16:53

Mayfly nymph Until today I hadn't found any mayfly nymphs (E. danica) in my Stour samples. Today was the day: not only did I find this nymph but we also saw some mayfly duns on the wing.The river was running just above summer level and was looking well and healthy. We collected abundant examples of olives and b.-w.o. nymphs, shrimps, and cased and caseless caddis. Good to see.

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