Chris McCully

Fishing Diary


Saturday, 2 January 2016 at 09:18

Coniston Water, 1966 Plus ├ža change...

Another year

Sunday, 27 December 2015 at 17:31

Bill Currie's Shrimp Another year lurches to its end among gales and floods. I think of friends and colleagues in the North of England who may be beset by the ever-rising waters. This, too, shall pass I want to say, uselessly. In thinking of what is past, or passing, or to come I also reflected on one great angler and angling voice we lost in 2015 - that of W.B. (Bill) Currie. Currie's work on salmon and sea-trout was among the best analytical angling prose of the past hundred years, yet it was also far more than analysis: it was an engagement; a beckoning. Today, in a minor tribute, I reclaimed some old salmon and sea-trout hooks and tied up a salmon pattern Currie designed. Classically simple, it's a highly mobile shrimp-y sort of pattern and would I imagine excel - though wouldn't excel exclusively - in peaty water running off from a flood. As I was tying, I kept thinking back to Currie's prose, heard at its best in The River Within (1994). I tied the flies with gratitude somehow working in the memory of my hands.

Of blue and the utility of tumble dryers

Sunday, 6 December 2015 at 09:25

Blue One of the great Irish sea-trout flies is the Donegal Blue (sizes 10-14). Very simple to tie (blue body, silver rib, black hackle), nevertheless the correct, or at least the most effective, shade of blue has caused me much vexation over the years. An unadulterated stark Bahamian blue (top of shot) does work, but I don't like stark blocks of colour on flies and generally I soften the Bahamian blue with blue-ish furry stuff which I scrape off the screen of the tumble dryer (bottom of shot). Tumble dryers are in fact most useful to fly-dressers: they yield you ready-fretted fur which is easy to dub and which varies interestingly in shade depending on the nature of the initiating load, though much of what I scrape off the screen is blue, or off-blue, or muddy blue, or red-blue, or all the above, even when the initiating load has been chrome yellow. This passeth understanding but never mind, eh?

The Complete Book about Grayling by Bob Willis

Tuesday, 1 December 2015 at 11:52

Cover image Friends from the Grayling Society - the rogues - sent along The Complete Book about Grayling by Bob Willis (Charleston SC: 2015) - a 75-page, illustrated account of the author's quest to locate and catch Arctic and European grayling across the Northern Hemisphere. Did you know, for example, that the Amur grayling is found in North Korea, where it's known as the Yalu grayling? Willis unfortunately couldn't visit North Korea, but he writes about North America, Siberia, the Russian Far East, Mongolia, Scandinavia and the UK. It's astonishing how varied are the habits of the grayling(s) in these different regions. Willis also shares some useful information about travel and its difficulties as well as detailing some local flies: the 'anti-wobbler nymph' (Siberia) was a new one on me, while the size of some artificials used in Mongolia (Hoppers in sizes 4-8) made me think. Many thanks to the rogues for sending along this text. I enjoyed it.

Pre-spawning sea-trout survey on the Foyle

Monday, 30 November 2015 at 11:27

Sea-trout being returned Gardiner sent me a wonderful YouTube film he'd shot a couple of weeks ago when staff from the Loughs Agency (Northern Ireland) were conducting a survey of pre-spawning sea-trout stocks on the headwaters of various Foyle-system rivers. It's a wonderfully informative film with great commentary by the scientific staff involved. Lionel's hat is equally sensational. After you've opened YouTube ( paste watch?v=D1rARVjiPcwi into the search box. Ignoring the stuff about Adele, who is some kind of chanteuse, scroll down to 'Pre Spawning Sea Trout Survey'. Enjoy.

Voyage to St. Kilda 1

Sunday, 20 September 2015 at 11:05

Porpoise Just back from annual leave on Skye. One of the highlights was a trip I made to St. Kilda (see These islands lie 80+ miles to the West of Uig. The next images are nothing to do with fishing, I fear, but simply constitute a fragmentary record of what was a significant and fascinating trip. Hard-bitten fly-fishers who aren't as interested as they should be in the vanishing of cultures, or in whales, seabirds, dolphins and porpoises, will find some images of hill-loch trout and dry Daddies below. The present image is of a porpoise, whose apparently lazy, forward-lolling roll accompanied us through the Sound of Harris at dusk on our return voyage from St. Kilda to Skye.

Voyage to St. Kilda 2

Sunday, 20 September 2015 at 11:01

Dolphins off Harris On the return journey from St. Kilda to Uig we not only had a glimpse of a minke whale - just a tantalising glimpse, yet a certain sighting - but were also visited by dolphins (here) and porpoises (see above). It's an interesting thing about dolphins: when they're sighted off any boat, from St. Kilda to Mombasa, everyone on the boat smiles, without exception. Long may it remain so.

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