Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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Anglers and gentlepersons

Monday, 16 October 2017 at 09:59

Hobbs Fishing from Steve Roberts' boat 'Hobbs' on the Thames is always instructive. We went out with Steve last year and had a grand day. Yesterday wasn't as eye-popping in terms of catches but it was gentle and instructive and the autumn colours and bird life were alike spectacular. We could well have been fishing in an earlier and gentler age.

  Steve is the last of the traditional Thames boatmen and I thoroughly recommend a day or half-day out with him. He's a great teacher too, as I can attest from personal experience yesterday, when he gave me my first lesson in Wallis casting.

A handful of small fishes

Monday, 16 October 2017 at 09:55

Little perch It was a long way to go to Pangbourne to catch a handful of small fishes but it was thoroughly enjoyable. We caught little roach, dace, a bleak...and at one stage, miniature perch moved into the swim and I was pleased to see them. It was a hugely varied day and we trotted floats, touch-legered, hurled unavailing pike streamers and lures about, fished deadbaits under a bobber (for perch) and larger deadbaits for pike, which last were conspicuous by their refusal to look at any bait, lure or streamer whatsoever. Steve also gave me a lesson in basic Wallis casting which I found very instructive.

Lest we forget

Monday, 16 October 2017 at 09:50

Bleak I could make a good case for the importance of tiny fish - minnows, fry and fingerlings and (as here) bleak - to the ecology of the Thames and its weirpools. Call me perverse (I've been called much worse) but once or twice a year I thoroughly enjoy catching and releasing these tiny specimens, which are of course giants in their own hazardous bleak worlds. On the triumphant capture of this specimen, Steve told me that he'd once caught a bleak (on the Kennet, I think) that was seriously big.  'How big?' I asked. He gestured to the circumference of a bait-tub - and that was about nine inches across.

Leftovers and a shaft of light

Sunday, 8 October 2017 at 14:28

Little roach I had some maggots left over from Friday's perch session and decided to try and catch some roach. Lucky and Mitchell, 6BB waggler, 3.2lb. Floatfish straight through to a size 16 barbless hook....and I caught roach, certainly, though it was a pity that none of them were more than palm-sized. I was lucky with the light: fitful sunlight lay across the pool and I could squint into it and see the tip of the float largely in silhouette, while around were some lovely autumn colours. I don't think a person could ever tire of watching the float bob, weave, run and dither to the antics of small roach. I can connect with one bite in three - and that's on a good day.

Paved with perch

Friday, 6 October 2017 at 16:20

Not tench At first light I fished the tench swims I'd raked and pre-baited two days ago. No result. Not a bubble. Even a move to the always-reliable perch hole didn't see the float dip, which was astonishing. And so I moved downriver. In the hours around lunchtime, with the day rapidly warming up, it was staggeringly prolific: some small roach, a few tiny but pristine dace....and then the perch moved in. I lost count of how many perch I released and a couple of them even needed the landing-net. It was a grand few hours with the Lucky, the Mitchell and a tub of red maggots, though small brandlings worked just as well. Grand to be outside on a day like this, under the washed harvest moon and with winter coming on.

Mitchell and Lucky

Friday, 6 October 2017 at 16:12

Mitchell and Lucky ...sounds rather like a firm of bent solicitors. Keith (the bailiff), who recognised me from the cane landing-net handle, took one look at this gear and said 'A man after my own heart....' Well, maybe, though I'm no merely nostalgic traditionalist and readily acknowledge that there are many circumstances when cane and other old-fashioned materials and tackle are far less efficient than up-to-date gear. Still, on the local river cane and an old Mitchell 300 certainly do the job and I feel comfortable enough with tackle of my own vintage. Keith and I also talked centre-pins: his choice goes to the Speedia, mine to the Adcock Stanton (or the Aerial). They're all good reels, though (in my view and for what it's worth) if you're buying second-hand it's wise to pay a touch extra for one in more or less pristine nick. Thus this old Mitchell 300, which arrived a while ago with barely a mark on it and in its original box, too.

Watching the wrong bubbles

Wednesday, 4 October 2017 at 14:56

Raking I know. Ridiculous. Who begins to fish for tench in October? Answer: Er.... I do. Over those perfect summer tench months - all those miraculous, bubble-infested dawns - I was simply too hard-pushed to get out there onto the river with the virgin tench-rake, drag a swim and then settle to fishing. This morning, far too late in the season, I finally had enough free time to do it, though I limited my efforts to raking out three swims only (which I'll duly fish in another 36 hours or so). It was hard, mucky work but enjoyable: a glimpse of a kingfisher, lots of olive nymphs and shrimps in the weed in the rake (which I duly returned to the edge of the water) and a chance find of someone's lost, loaded waggler. After I'd raked the swims I watched for tench-bubbles but saw only the wrong sort of bubbles - bubbles which were after-bubbles of the rake rather than bubbles that meant tench. Still, at least my tench-rake is no longer a virgin - and who knows? I may even, one day, catch a tench.

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