Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

The wicker men

Sunday, 17 November 2019 at 14:23

Screenshot Sheffield Howard spotted Hook, Line and Sheffield! - a film made by Sheffield and District Works Sports Association (1963). It features an angling match on the Witham together with footage from the anglers' wives. One woman 'packed him off' at 0400 then redecorated the living room before the return of our hero ('He thought he'd come to the wrong house'). Another said she wouldn't mind [her husband] keeping maggots in the fridge - if she could have a fridge. Times have changed, often for the better, but this is a sensational film. It includes the Brylcreem and pipe-smoke which were commonplace in my childhood and a beautiful wilderness of wicker baskets. Thanks, Howard.

Big eyes and old geezers

Sunday, 10 November 2019 at 15:16

Howard We fished a pier whose entry once cost ½d. (Remember those coins?) The first chapter of the first fishing book I ever read was about Pier Fishing - something for beginners, old men, boys and girls. There's a whiff of candy-floss and old crabbing-nets - there's the fizz of false teeth and Kiss-Me-Quick - about pier fishing. I enjoy it, from the squalling gulls to the vinegary gusts of fish-and-chips. As it was, we were fishing for whiting - beachcasters, bombs, flapper rigs, with squid and sandeels in the bait bucket. We did catch a few whiting and there was plenty of action until the top of the tide.
Howard and I first fished together in 1981 - young bloods who thought they owned the angling world. We're ending up as two old geezers on a pier catching 9-inch whiting and wondering if it's time for lunch. Happy days.

Watching the rod-tip

Sunday, 10 November 2019 at 15:09

Rod tip I really must put some reflective tape and/or a betalight on that rod-tip. Generally I don't need the betalight and simply line up the tip-ring against some far-bank feature, such as (here) a particular crane. Whiting bite fairly boldly: there's a tremble at the rod-tip, then another tremble - a motion quite different to the slow scrapings of crabs (which are as fond of squid and sandeels as whiting are). It's often wise to let the bites develop...but not for too long. Generally I lift into the fish at the second or third tremble. If I miss a few - well, never mind, and good luck to the little bait-thieves. I also find that intensive watching of a rod-tip has the same effect as watching a float for long periods. It's entirely possible to stare both float and/or rod-tip into invisibility. That shouldn't be possible given the optics of the human eye but like thousands of other anglers I have fifty years of empirical evidence on my side.

When the tide runs....

Sunday, 10 November 2019 at 15:05

Towards Felixstowe Looking towards Felixstowe. The whitings had bitten quite well on the flood. Then we reached dead water at the top of the tide; the sun started to split the sky. Usually the next hour or two brings plenty of action as the tide starts to run off (left-to-right in the shot) but today the bites simply....stopped. I suspect the fell sunshine had something to do with it. But who knows?

Big eyes

Sunday, 10 November 2019 at 15:00

Big eyes Whiting have dark-adapted eyes and therefore hunt best in low light - dawn, dusk or turbid water are favoured conditions. You can still catch them during the daytime but even then they bite most readily when clouds obscure the sun. The image shows a little whiting I released (lugworm) eighteen months ago: the relatively large eye shows up very clearly. Today it was noticeable that (despite a favourable tide) the bites dropped off as the autumn sun rose towards midday.

Essential maintenance

Sunday, 27 October 2019 at 15:31

Reel maintenance Certain times of year, usually early spring and early autumn, mean a change in angling methods and species. In autumn, the trout-rods are serviced; coarse fishing tackle - long-trotting rods, swimfeeders, spinning tackle - is re-employed. These changes mean that I usually spend a day stripping different reels, oiling them, replacing lines and checking for optimum functionality. The most useful bits and pieces I need for this chore are a set of small screwdrivers, some pipecleaners, an old toothbrush and pieces of clean rag. Light grease (for gears and parts inside the casing) and sewing-machine oil (for moving parts outside the casing) are also vital. I grant you it's not fishing time, but it's worth it to avoid getting stranded miles from home with broken or inefficient kit.


Tuesday, 22 October 2019 at 06:56

On the Wharfe It looks benign and at this stage of the proceedings it was, yet for three days the Wharfe had run high and coloured. Rain fell laughingly from the north. Leaves tumbled in amber and russet flotillas while the emptying trees hissed and rattled in the wind. Still, yesterday Steve and I managed half a dozen grayling between us during what was a short morning session - Steve five to my poor singleton, I'm ashamed to say - and the best of them made a lovely brace. For some reason best known to the grayling, trotted red-worm seemed to work better than red or white maggots, and it was grand to be out there with the trotting rods as the river level finally dropped. A rainbow formed over our heads while a buzzard mewed continually in a washed sky.

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