Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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Not bad for a bodger

Friday, 21 April 2017 at 14:17

Perfection I've been spending odd hours in the evenings doing some work on cane - on my old rods and on a second-hand landing-net handle. One job I've kept putting off, largely because I was unsure how well the cane and all the whippings would take even the finest grain of emery paper, was a refurbishment and varnishing chore on my old Bruce Avon Perfection. In the event I needn't have worried: the cane and the whippings took the new, very thin coats of varnish beautifully and the whippings, in particular, began to glow like an old glass of good Burgundy. It was a hugely rewarding little job. I was particularly pleased because the Avon Perfection is one of my favourite rods, and is one I use regularly during the autumn and winter when trotting for roach, dace, grayling and chub. Rarely can a rod have been better designed for its purpose and the fittings and cosmetics are wonderful, too. As many traditionally-minded anglers have pointed out, cane is a great rod-building material and there are tremendous reserves of power there in the hexagonally-constructed butt, so that the more the rod bends, the more pressure can be exerted from the thick end of the rod. True, I rarely catch the sort of fish where those reserves of power are needed, but occasionally even I need to play a modest winter chub with tough and unyielding sensitivity - they dive under weed-rafts, head for tree-roots - and in those circumstances the Avon has always done everything I've asked of it.

I look at the rod now as it waits for its final varnish coat and think 'Not bad for a bodger'.

Grafham soundings

Thursday, 13 April 2017 at 16:09

Grafham brown Another extraordinary day at Grafham, fishing in cool, gusty westerlies with my old friend Mark Brown. We encountered fish from the off, though at first the rainbows nipped and plucked uselessly. It seemed the shoals were 3-4' down, and after a while we began to get serious interest in our flies and lures, all fished on slowish-sinking lines. We met fish at both Hill Farm and later, in Valley Creek, spelling for a while in Savages, where we picked up fewer but better-quality rainbows, with some brown trout among them. Best fish of the day came to young Mark, who released a pristine, silver-liveried brown trout that can't have been less than 3¾lb.

The image shows a brown of around 1½lb. about to be released. Nice hat.

Fresh as paint

Thursday, 13 April 2017 at 16:07

Overwintered rainbow The rainbows we encountered were generally in outstanding condition. This is a beautifully full-tailed fish pushing 2lb. Angler: Mark Brown.


Thursday, 13 April 2017 at 16:01

Buzzers That Grafham's trout were feeding heavily on buzzers is evidenced by this shot of a maw-ful of pupae disgorged by one rainbow. Some of the pupae were still wriggling. The buzzers ranged from tiny black ones to the bigger black C. anthracinus species, with some very dark green and even a couple of red pupae as well. Strangely, despite using different and specific buzzer representations on our leaders, the trout took a Pitsford Pea (a small black and green lure) better than anything else, provided it was fished at the correct depth. That last - depth - seemed very significant, and it's not the first time at Grafham that we've found the depth at which the flies are presented to be far more important than pattern.

Extraordinary Grafham

Friday, 7 April 2017 at 20:27

Grafham rainbow First trip of this trout season, and Grafham was in extraordinary form. I was experimenting with a Sixth Sense DI-3 line and very good it was - versatile and low-stretch. Late on I could and should have put up a floater, because there was some surface activity to buzzers, but I was so astonished by the action I'd enjoyed during the day that I simply stopped fishing and sat there with coffee and a marmalade sandwich, relishing the calm air of early evening. A grand beginning to a new season.

Dolphins and jellyfish 1

Wednesday, 5 April 2017 at 19:57

Bottlenose dolphins A week in the Canarian sunshine, spent on and off La Gomera. As part of the trip we went to sea to watch dolphins and whales. Although we didn't get more than a glimpse of a whale we did enjoy plenty of dolphin sightings, and I particularly liked studying how plankton, small fish, jellyfish, dolphins and sea-birds all formed a predatory chain. There are a couple more images below. It was a grand week's break.

Dolphins and jellyfish 2

Wednesday, 5 April 2017 at 19:52

Shearwaters We were told that the bottlenose dolphins were feeding on sardines, or anchovies, or mackerel. My hunch was that they were predating on smaller fish than mackerel - I think we'd have seen plenty of signs of mackerel hunting anchovies, if any mackerel had been present - and so anchovies were my guess. It was spectacular: the dolphins would cruise through the shoals of prey fish, sometimes in pairs, and as they drove the prey to the surface the birds would move in. These hunting birds were Cory's shearwaters, and it wasn't uncommon to see a dolphin snout and a shearwater meet at the surface in the same shoal of prey. For an hour, all was noise, activity and intent, and we had some very close encounters with hunting dolphins.

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