Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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.

Cheerful chub

Wednesday, 27 August 2014 at 07:13

Little chub Glenn made the point that chub are rather like many youngsters: they're cheerfully up for it irrespective of what's confronting them. Whether what they're looking at (the chub, I mean, not the youngsters) is a size 16 dry fly, a slug or a piece of spam they'll generally have a go at it. Here's a chublet that took a nondescript size 16 dry-fly.

Game Fair (1)

Sunday, 20 July 2014 at 06:37

Clays The CLA Game Fair is one of the great events of the British country year. This year's event is being hosted at Blenheim, just outside Oxford. It's several years since I came up to a Game Fair and it was splendid to be back. The crowds were, I thought, remarkably peaceful and good-willed, the working dogs were doing their stuff, there was clay shooting, there were ethnic sausages. Somehow, I find the Game Fair reassuring: it's as if some of the oldest and best bits of Britain dust themselves off and turn up. It was also very good to see so many young people there. The biggest smile of the day came, as so often, when I was watching the working dogs, particularly the dog who went out for a dummy, dropped it, then looked round bemused at the crowds and wandered off to sniff all the new smells.  The handler was clearly mortified. 'Well,' said the MC to the crowds, 'Penny's only a young dog. Well done, Penny....' Cheers all round - cheers that were all the warmer for the sympathy they contained. Those of us who've stood out in all weathers trying to bring on working dogs understood that little scene very well.

Game Fair (2)

Sunday, 20 July 2014 at 06:31

Nomads presentation I had the privilege of talking about Nomads of the Tides (and about sea-trout, the fish, and sea-trout fishing in general) with John Bailey (centre) and Malcolm Greenhalgh (right). John did a wonderful job of acting as MC throughout a whole day of talks and seminars, and it was a privilege to meet both John and Malcolm: I've admired the writings and work of both men for years - as I have the work of Mark Everard, whom I also met yesterday. (He even left me a bacon-and-egg sandwich at lunchtime, which I felt was above and beyond the call of stern duty.) Not often these days that I'm let out among the Great and the Good. Many thanks to John and Malcolm, and to Jon Ward-Allen and the Medlar team, for arranging these events.

Wild flowers and dace

Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 21:31

Wild flowers along the Stour It's the time of wild flowers. This lovely bank lies along the Stour and was re-planted with Ox-eye Daisy, Poppy and Scabious by a local resident who waged gentle war on the nettles that were threatening to take over. Some nettles are still there - left there deliberately, since they're so good for butterflies - but wild flowers now grow abundantly along the bank and the effect is stunning. One other flower that seems abundant now is mallow: you see the purple heads everywhere. Add purple loosestrife, too, and cornflowers.... Add to these things the bird-song I've heard here in Essex during the past two weeks: goldfinches and even nightingales sing behind our house on most evenings. It's a privilege to be outside.

  I was on the river to fish for dace with the fly-rod and enjoyed a wonderful few hours. Further words and images below.

Homage to Anthony Shepherdson

Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 21:19

Chublet on the fly 2014 In 1960 Anthony Shepherdson published a lovely little book called How to Fish the Suffolk Stour. Shepherdson recommended fly-fishing for summer dace: a size 12 Red Tag was his prescription - a fly big enough to deter fingerlings while being attractive to larger dace, which in the Stour can reach impressive sizes. And so today, in homage, I put up the fly-rod (a 7-foot 4-weight) and to the end of the leader knotted a size 12 dry Red Tag. It wasn't easy fishing, by any means. It was a warm, bright afternoon, the water was low and clear, and I'd have done better at dusk. Still, three intriguing hours of creeping and crawling brought half a dozen dace and chub to hand. (Image shows a chublet.) The dace were lightning-fast to take and eject the fly while the chublets ran to half a pound or so. I also moved a couple of much more significant chub but they were so easily spooked you only got one chance. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was so glad to get a dace on Shepherdson's prescription.

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