Chris McCully

Fishing Diary


Sunday, 18 November 2018 at 15:47

Perch A short session on the river. Three pike, best c.6lb. and this very handsome perch, all on small softbaits fished on 7-10g jig hooks. It was a rather quiet few hours, with fishing complicated by fell sunshine, but a very active pair of kingfishers kept me engaged while I dawdled with a rod. I may well spend some time specifically fishing for these perch during the coming winter. There are some lovely spots on the river where a worm might tempt a bigger perch. And just look at the indignantly-erect dorsal and the colour of those fins...

Bites and biters 1

Saturday, 10 November 2018 at 16:58

Bitten Generally speaking, fish don't bite. It's the wrong metaphor. They sip, suck, annexe, slurp and occasionally, wolf. Not even pike 'bite': they stalk - and at the last minute, ingest. It's then and only then that the formidable array of backward-raking teeth come into play, largely so that any prey held in that armoured pike-mouth won't escape. Occasionally, however, pike are unconvinced by an artificial lure. They'll stalk it and will even move to it....but then, instead of ingesting it, they'll nip it. And so it was today. It's true that Henry and I released a leash of pike (and one lovely perch) between us, but fish after fish moved and nipped at the mobile tails of the softbaits, to the extent that eventually I ran through a whole, and wholly pristine, 5-pack of 4Play shads. The pike, that is, seemed to act out of curiosity rather than predatory appetite.

Bites and biters 2

Saturday, 10 November 2018 at 16:56

Around 6lb. This was one of the best of them, a fish of around 6lb. that took a little shad just after lunch.

Last of the Chateau Hopeless

Friday, 2 November 2018 at 09:02

Last few grapes When I designed, constructed and planted the garden I had only two principles: (almost) anything I grew either (a) had to be edible in some way or (b) had to benefit wildlife. Four years on, the results have been staggering: nearly twenty different species of bird in the plot, and flourishing populations of butterflies, bees and insects. There have been pests, too, but generally my interventions with poisons or packets have been limited. The garden now seems very settled. It does what it was designed to do and that in turn gives us great and abiding joy.

The principles, such as they are, show nowhere more clearly than on the vines. This past summer, for all its climatic worries, has been good for fruit and I grew two spectacular vines which duly bore grapes. The grapes were perfectly edible but they were fairly small and...not bitter, exactly, but lacking in final sweetness. I left the grapes on the vines and the blackbirds (three pairs) have had a splendid, bountiful time stripping the stalks of their fruit. These birds have also become wonderfully tame - or perhaps are merely sozzled - on the last of the Chateau Hopeless.

A hundred years of the river

Sunday, 21 October 2018 at 15:22

Trotting reels Two days fishing for grayling in Wharfedale, with my old friend Steve Rhodes, and very enjoyable they were despite the crowds. Our fishing - some with the trotting rods, some with wet-flies - was successful if you count a handful of grayling (best fish was around 12 inches, though most were tiny) a success. Yet I think we both enjoyed long-trotting. Steve brought along a splendid centre-pin made by the incomparable Chris Lythe, while I christened a second-hand Speedia, teaming it with a B&W Trotter (fibreglass) made in the 1970s. In between the almost non-existent grayling and the pork pies we realised that we had around 100 years of experience of fishing the river, which must mean something, though I don't know quite what.

Below Grassington

Sunday, 21 October 2018 at 15:21

Autumn colours Wharfedale was looking utterly glorious.

Above Burnsall

Sunday, 21 October 2018 at 15:08

Loup Scar The river above Burnsall flows through a gorge whose name is Loup Scar ('Loup Scaur' in Reg Righyni's work). Grayling fishers will remember the famous photograph of Righyni long-trotting in the pool below the gorge. The underlying structure was caused by great upheavals in the underlying limestone (two different kinds of limestone were involved, I read, in the almost unimaginable foldings and infoldings of stone); at the end of the Ice Ages, the river carved a course through the rock.

Our fishing didn't yield numbers of grayling but we did get one tiny fish to the wet-fly at the head of Loup Scar and another in one of the glides above Burnsall. It was grand to see these little fish because the stock of grayling in the middle Wharfe has seen a decline since the 1980s. I hope beyond hope that these 'shots' survive the next winter or two (and survive predation by trout and goosander); they represent what may just become the middle river's breeding stock of grayling.

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