Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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Of Dumbell Wafters, eel-pacifying and perch holes

Saturday, 8 July 2017 at 14:19

Silly bait If you'd told me I'd ever fish with a bait called 'Dumbell Wafters' I'd probably have thought you were bonkers. Anyway... I was trying to catch tench in a local pond and the chap in the tackle-shop said this is what I wanted. I was thinking more of brandlings and/or lob tails, but bought the Wafters (Chocolate Orange flavour). The Wafters didn't catch tench (it said 'Irresistible' on the tub); nor did brandlings or lob tails. Meanwhile Henry divulged his trick for pacifying eels: you stroke them. This only works with big eels. Since I've never caught a big eel this was all esoteric - or possibly, mad. To bring myself round I went out at the crack to a perch hole on the river and caught a handful of decent perch. Then I moved upriver to the gravels where I knew there were dace - and I caught dace, too, best c.8oz. Triumphantly, I also released three minnows - another species to add to the list of local river fish.

I should get out more.


Bread, jack attacks and a rudd in a tree

Sunday, 2 July 2017 at 14:29

Jack attack Out for a few hours this morning in gathering heat, re-learning how to fish with bread flake for roach and rudd. I was pottering along quite happily, missing more than I hooked, when suddenly a jack loomed from a weedbed beneath my feet and had a go at a roach I was bringing to hand. There was a big, green-marbled swirl in the clear water.... The jack missed, fortunately. Next cast I hooked a little rudd - and this time the jack made no mistake. The Lucky bent over and I could see the jack clearly, with the unfortunate rudd protruding from its jaws. The pike wasn't anywhere near hooked, but nor would it let go of its prey. I played both fish for a minute or so and had begun to believe I might land them both - was reaching down for the net - when... The jack let go. The hapless rudd flew up into a tree, from whence I luckily retrieved it, though I can't say that by this time it was anything other than a terminally poorly rudd.


Crayfish and dace

Sunday, 25 June 2017 at 17:43

Non-natives The non-native Signal crayfish began to colonise England's rivers in the 1970s. They're now pretty much everywhere. I find them on our local rivers in what seem to be increasing numbers. Otters love them: the claws pictured here were part of what I'm 90% certain was an otter feast.

I fished for a few hours early on, trying to catch dace. A relatively fast-running glide; the float set at two feet; 3.2lb. Floatfish straight through to a barbless #18 hook. I missed nineteen in twenty bites, but still ended with a respectable number of handsome, pristine little dace - and caught some small roach, three gudgeons and a decent perch for good measure. The meadow was alive with Meadow Browns and the martins were busy. What more could one ask of a Sunday morning?


Unprecedented: Of gudgeon, rudd, bream and Kylie Minogue

Saturday, 24 June 2017 at 15:58

Lucky I think Chris Yates writes somewhere that every Lucky Strike comes with innate fish-catching ability - a sort of fluence, born with each rod. Yesterday I said to Monika that it would be good to christen this Lucky - a late model, from the end of the 1960s, probably - by catching some of the species that have so far eluded me on the river. Gudgeon, for instance. In the event, the Lucky and I caught seven different species in one session. It was extraordinary. After catching some chublets on freelined worms - lovely bit of fishing, though I say so myself (nobody else ever will) - I put up the waggler. 'Be nice to catch a roach,' I thought. A fit 10oz. roach duly obliged. 'Be nice to catch a dace.' A dace obliged. 'Nice to catch a perch' (we caught a perch)....' A bream' (we caught a bream).... 'A gudgeon' (this was riding my luck, but we caught a gudgeon - in fact several gudgeons).... 'Er... A rudd?' (and this really was pushing it, because I've only once before glimpsed a rudd on the river). But we caught a rudd, too - and then, for good measure, another rudd. It was all a bit unprecedented. And the while, that silly bloody Kylie song kept sounding in the dim recesses: ...lucky lucky lucky.... (etc.)

Happy June 16th

Friday, 16 June 2017 at 15:03

Opening day Opening day. Off I went with a 4-weight fly-rod. If little roach and dace are your thing then you'd have shared my frustrations: I must have moved twenty...thirty... and brought very few to hand. Best was a roach of around half a pound that took a small, somewhat tubby Black Spider suspended under a murking great Klink. Of the fish I moved and missed, two were respectable chub, and I saw a small (but distant) shoal of really big chub at lunchtime, too. I think I spent more time walking and watching than I did fishing, and that's fine: the whole season's before us.
     So many people said Hello and stopped to chat. It was as if everyone had taken some sort of benevolence drug. Perhaps they had - and if so, I want some. It was altogether heartening and cheering.

Strawberries

Sunday, 11 June 2017 at 11:22

Strawberries I remember writing last year about the full moon of later June, which is known quaintly as the 'strawberry moon'. These tides are a good time to get after bass, though on a short session two evenings ago I caught nothing and saw nothing moving - not even mullet. There was just the remorselessly muddy flood and the fading light; even the terns seemed torpid.

Yet in the garden all is growth. This is the first proper season of our reconstructed and much-worked plot so it's been good to see a smashing crop of strawberries. The raspberries look promising, too, and I may get a few cherries and plums from two trees we planted only last year. I enjoy the seasonal rhythms of the garden almost as much as I enjoy the rhythms of angling engagement: there's connectedness, and hope, and a profound, outwardly-directed attention that's a splendid antidote to a working life filled with continual pressures.

Little bass

Sunday, 4 June 2017 at 20:57

Tiny bass One of half a dozen little bass that took either a shrimp-suggesting pattern (as here) or a streamer. One tiny bass was smaller than the streamer it annexed - which would be the equivalent of me trying to swallow a foal. Two fish were a glorious 9-10 inches....and the miniature size of these fish didn't matter at all. It was enough to be there, in the broken light under a livid sky, with a whole season of bass fishing before us.


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