Chris McCully

Fishing Diary


Sunday, 19 April 2015 at 10:24

Kick sampling It's heart-warming, what can begin in deepest Chigwell. Last Friday I went to Chigwell to get some training for participation in the Riverfly Partnership, which uses anglers and members of the public to survey fly-life in streams so that pollution and other events can be monitored ( The up-winged flies, stoneflies and shrimps are sensitive to pollution, so are useful diagnostic indicators of the health of running water. Eight volunteers carried buckets full of life accruing from kick-samples back over the M25 and I wasn't unaware of the irony. In a three-minute kick-sample of the Roding we found bullheads, a minnow, shrimps, loads of different olive nymphs (though in my own sample, no blue-winged olives), damselfly larvae, an alder larva.... It was a tremendous experience and for interested volunteers, it's free. All you need is some time.

Of memories

Sunday, 12 April 2015 at 17:00

Ecdyonurus torrentis It's over forty years since I caught my first trout on the fly. Last Friday, and as a guest of David Gibson (to whom much thanks), I went back to the same reach of the Yorkshire stream where that signal event took place. The stream's still full of wild brown trout and grayling; the fish still rise; and we had a grand day out. We both caught fish, though it was strange: in heat and summer-low water a hatch of Large Dark Olives appeared early (1000-1045) and afterwards we barely saw a fish. As David said, the textbooks state that April hatches of LDO occur from noon onwards, so it was good we got to the water early. I confess, also, that I was lazy and almost too preoccupied to fish hard. I simply loved casting a dry-fly and later, merely dawdled in the sunshine in shirtsleeves. But on such a day, enjoying such company and held by so many wonderful memories, well - why not?

  Image: nymph of Ecdyonurus torrentis, the Large Brook Dun.

Nearer 5lb. than 4lb.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015 at 18:04

Big one It was hard work today. Those out early caught well, but around 1030 a poisonous SE breeze got up and that was decidedly cool: it killed any surface action. And so I lashed about again with the DI-6 line and a lure, fishing it very s-l-o-w-l-y. In the end I released 4, with the best of them a really grand overwintered beast that was nearer 5lb. than 4lb. It bore comparison with a 4┬żlb-er I took around the same time last year. Cracking scrap, too: the fish took line and ten yards of backing in its first wild run. I've caught grilse that were smaller, so I was delighted. Yet also puzzled. After catching and releasing three good fish in the space of half an hour there was no further activity and the fishing simply died. Oh well. NB. First martins on the water.

One in the net

Wednesday, 8 April 2015 at 18:03

In the net Hanningfield rainbows average around 2lb. and they're handsome fish. Here's one about to be released that took a Viva fished very slowly on a DI-6 line.

Spring on the estuary

Wednesday, 8 April 2015 at 18:00

Primroses ...or, as it were, not-spring. The estuary itself is still cold - water temperature around 5-6C still and no life yet in the shallows. On the other hand, there are signs everywhere around the estuary of spring, like this bank of wild primroses. It won't be long, I hope, before the bass and mullet begin to arrive.

Another season

Friday, 3 April 2015 at 09:51

Adult black midge Another trout season begins. I fished a short session at Hanningfield yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. The water was cold, the day warmed only slowly and there was a poisonous northerly which killed any possibility of surface action. I set to with a 9-weight fast sinker and a size 12 longshank Viva, trickling the lure back just over the bottom or occasionally, varying the retrieve so that the lure fished slightly faster in midwater. It's not my favourite form of fishing but it's effective when the water temperatures are low and the fish reluctant to move into the surface. I moved five and caught three, keeping two. The best pushed 3lb.; the two I kept weighed 2lb. apiece. At lunchtime there was a stupendous hatch of buzzers to which the rainbows, with at least one exception (see below), paid no heed whatsoever. They lay on or near the bottom, merely contemplating a spring which hasn't quite yet fully sprung. It was accordingly a modest and lovely beginning. And the year lies all before us.

Midge pupae

Friday, 3 April 2015 at 09:43

Black midge pupae It's vanishingly rare for me to catch Hanningfield rainbows that aren't stuffed with daphnia. The fish follow the nutritious clouds of these water-fleas, lying now higher in the water and now lower as the daphnia blooms rise and fall in response to temperature, subsurface drift and light. Yesterday, however, there was one of the most massive hatches of buzzers I've ever experienced, mainly tiny dark green and black midges but with some big black jobs (Chironomus anthracinus) among them. Yet water temperature was 5-6C and the fish slow to move. I doubted any would really be feeding with intent on the midge pupae that were so abundantly available. I was wrong. One fish - the only rainbow I saw moving on the surface yesterday - was clearly feeding avidly on the pupae, as the marrow-scoop showed. I wish I could say that I caught the fish on a size 14 pupa but I didn't: the rainbow took a Viva fished six feet down on a DI-6 line.

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