Chris McCully

Fishing Diary


Thursday, 17 January 2019 at 15:33

First snowdrops With bitter conditions forecast, these snowdrops might yet regret poking their heads out into the weather - but all the same it's lovely to see them. Their appearance this year is early. I usually reckon that these bulbs begin to show themselves in the last week of January or first week of February. By the time we have carpets of them - mid to late February - the coarse fishing season is, for me, drawing to a close.

The mornings are very slowly becoming lighter; there's increasing volume of bird-song from around 0645. When the coming cold snap has passed, one calm, late winter morning there'll be the first great chorus of the blackbirds. And spring will have announced itself again.

The old, the new and the impractical

Sunday, 6 January 2019 at 12:13

Old and new I prefer tackle that's efficient rather than stuff which is aesthetically pleasing or which strokes nostalgia. Then again, I admire (British) craftsmanship and am a fool for history. I do use several (treasured) cane rods; enjoy using tackle that, however old, is practical and hand-made; and I have no love for plastic or the pointlessly hi-tec. Every winter involves the servicing of canvas, wood and leather or the varnishing of bits of cane as well as the maintenance of plastic (and some silk) fly-lines. That said, I recently acquired a new rod, unchristened but promising. It's an Avon quiver tip (brand Rovex John Wilson [RIP, and thank you] Avon Quiver Travel). At 11 feet, in five pieces and with three push-in tips of different sizes, it comes with a bag and hard tube and is very reasonably priced. What's not to like? An experimental waggle revealed a rod which is light, has authority and a fine action: it will be excellent for grayling, chub and possibly, barbel - a fish which is currently at the limits of ambition. There are places on the rivers I fish where long-trotting would be impractical and cane possibly vulnerable; hence these new, dark designs with maggots, hemp, a block-end swimfeeder - and an efficient rod.

John Storey variant

Sunday, 6 January 2019 at 11:52

Storey variant I've no idea what the original John Storey was supposed to represent, if anything. Tied with a forward-raking jib of mallard and with a fully-wound gingery hackle it looked and looks like nothing on earth. A Yorkshire angler's Compara dun? A Klink avant la lettre? What I do know is that the John Storey was - is - a grand general pattern, especially if fished in small sizes (16-18). A few years ago I began to experiment with a looped wing of grey or bronze mallard; this was both easier to tie and to fish than the original mallard jib (i.e. the variant pattern was less inclined to twist on the leader). The variant caught plenty of fish. Then, following a word with Steve Rhodes, I experimented with parachute-tied hackles - of a fake honey-dun/badger shade. This variant, too, caught plenty of fish (both trout and grayling). It casts well, lands softly, and has now more than earned a permanent place in the fly-box.


Wednesday, 2 January 2019 at 08:18

1966 Plus ├ža change...

Grayling at the year's midnight

Saturday, 29 December 2018 at 17:43

Below the island It was a long way to go to catch a handful of small fish, but the intrinsic interest of the river and good company made all more than worthwhile. The Wharfe's grayling were fairly disinclined but we did get a bare few, most of them small. Steve Rhodes (pictured) got the best fish of the two days, while I distinguished myself by hooking a respectable pike...on a red/white maggot cocktail offered on a size 16 barbless hook. After playing this thing for a minute or so, mercifully the hook pulled away. (The pike must have been hooked on the periphery of the jaw because the terminal tackle came back completely intact.) Strangely, before it made its mistake the pike had moved twice to the float and end-tackle being retrieved adjacent to its lie.

I enjoy long-trotting, though I'm not particularly (or even at all) skilled. Seeing the float bury forty or more yards away - raising the rod - feeling the kick of a grayling, way downstream... These are grand angling experiences and I've been lucky to have had them.

Grayling at the year's midnight: lunch

Saturday, 29 December 2018 at 17:35

Lunch Lunch and a bit of a chat are so often the highlights of these days. And so it was, with this splendidly calorific selection supplemented by mince pies and Christmas cake.

Topics of discussion included: Milward's Swimversa rods; Aerial centrepins; stamina; reminiscences of a one-yard-wide stream that held a variety of different fish species (including double-figure pike); historical grayling populations and their distribution; getting lost while fishing (this one took us a while); retirement, pleasure and mortality.

Greetings from the fish

Tuesday, 25 December 2018 at 12:25

Nonsense Was feeling ruffe this morning - bleak. I'd been herling last night and it was all a bit crucian. 'Do up your bootlace, you old sprat,' I said to myself, 'and budge. Off your perch, get your greyback out there and don't flounder. Otherwise you'll have a loggerhead and something'll come orfe. Aye... Or come luce. Never mind the morgate - or for that matter, the pope. Don't 'ide. Put up the Christmas buntling, try some sewin', have a glasseye of hot tommy but make sure the fruit core don't charr on the grilse otherwise it'll be burntail and umber - pretty crappie, and you'll need the doctor fish. Who knows? You could be alevin an elver time, from A to Zed. Just for today, undo your mullet, put aside your bitterling and don't be a clown. Then spend some time in the shad and do some whitling. You can have a fry later with your fat chum in whiskers [image left] - or watch some F1. And then happy dace will be here again. Co-ho-ho.' (41 terms, since you asked - or perhaps, didn't.)

I wish my reader tight lines for the New Year.

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