Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

Bustards on the Eden

Saturday, 13 July 2019 at 10:53

Camomile My reader will recall that earlier this year I spent time tying replicas of T.E. Pritt's bustard patterns (see 19th May). These Pritt fished at night on the Northern rivers in July and August. Last week, together with angler and photographer Richard Faulks, I spent time on the River Eden at Appleby, staying at the Tufton Arms ( We fished two nights, staying out until around 0100, and caught a number of brown trout on those bustard replicas (Brown and White Bustards, size 10), with plenty of activity after dark on fish which tweaked, pulled or were briefly hooked and lost. Richard distinguished himself by taking a splendid brown of 2lb+ in the darkness, though this last didn't come on the bustard but on a small (size 12) orange Muddler. It was a captivating couple of evenings, though I remember the smell of the night as vividly, almost, as the fishing: abundant camomile lined the field edges, and as they were crushed under wader studs the plants scented the darkness.

Stockie from Stocks

Saturday, 13 July 2019 at 10:48

Stockie I had a grand time on Stocks fishery in Lancashire (, fishing with my old friend Rod Calbrade. Our catches were modest but the rainbows did respond to dry flies fished from a drifting boat. Black Hoppers and the Ginger Midas - the last, a new pattern to me, and one suggesting some kind of sedge - did sterling work.

A poignant reminder

Saturday, 13 July 2019 at 10:40

Slaidburn So many Northern towns and villages have their war memorials. In Slaidburn there's a particularly poignant reminder of local lives lost in the Great War. It always astonishes me, just how many young men and women lost their lives, and of course those lives lost affected sisters, brothers, parents, lovers and friends. It touches me, too, when these memorials are - as at Slaidburn - so often so well tended and maintained. [W]e that are left grow old.... We will remember them.

At Slaidburn I was staying at the Hark to Bounty, a fine old country pub ( It's located in lovely countryside hard by the River Hodder, just ten minutes' drive from Stocks.


Sunday, 30 June 2019 at 20:52

Ground trout ...which is rather how it felt at Grafham. We wasted a lot of time in the weedbeds around Savage's. Things did get better when we found clearer water around G Buoy. The fish were a long way out, in deep, cool parts of the lake, and it was hard work in the wind and wave. Eventually three trout took the peerless Pearly Dabbler, with the best at 3lb. 10oz. (see image), and I dropped another couple of rainbows. We came away when the wind freshened still further. No triumph therefore, and all a bit of a puzzle. The fish was full of daphnia, incidentally.

Not a bumper crop...

Friday, 21 June 2019 at 17:25

First strawberries ...but these are the first of the strawberries, picked this evening (the summer solstice). The drought and heat of last year was very good for fruit - by this time we had strawberries, raspberries, even the first grapes of what turned out to be a vintage Chateau Hopeless which the birds enjoyed - but it was good for little else. This year, with an unpredictable spring and then much rain throughout June, the fruit's backward. At least it's there, though it won't provide the ever-replenished desserts of 2018. We might even get the first cherries from a tree planted in 2014, although the wretched woodpigeons have played havoc with the plums.

Pays Basque

Sunday, 16 June 2019 at 09:48

Glenn Delporte In the Pays Basque Richard Faulks and I fished in the company of our expert guide Glenn Delporte ( We fished different rivers in the foothills of the Pyrenees - the Grande Nive, some of its tributaries, and the Irati, which eventually drains into the Mediterranean - and caught brown trout, an escaped rainbow and the extraordinary zebra trout. We fished, took photographs and did some fly-life sampling. The last revealed how prolific these streams are: caddis; baetis and ecdyonurus (stone-clinging) nymphs; loads of stoneflies.... The fishing wasn't easy and conditions were by no means optimal but it was a fascinating trip. The image shows Glenn fishing in the pretty village of St. Etienne de Baigorry.

The Grande Nive

Sunday, 16 June 2019 at 09:38

Grande Nive The Grande Nive, which courses through the Pays Basque towards Bayonne, is in all senses grande. It hosts a run - these days, a very small run - of salmon and provides significant brown trout fishing in its upper reaches. There are barbel lower down the river. We fished the Grande Nive on two evenings and caught trout on both. They weren't big fish - 10-11" - but there was a copious hatch of different flies (mostly Pale Wateries but with some False March browns and sedges). The birds liked these hatches just as much as the trout and I was entranced to watch the acrobatics of wagtails, swifts and martins. The Grande Nive also carries an extraordinary colour, running almost turquoise through shale and limestone. And here's Richard Faulks, netting a trout on our last evening's fishing.

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