Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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The shortest day

Thursday, 21 December 2017 at 08:46

Reflections 'Tis the yeares midnight,' wrote John Donne, 'and it is the dayes,/ Lucies, who scarce seaven houres herself unmaskes./  The Sunne is spent...' ('A Nocturnall upon St. Lucies Day', c.1627). Yet the shortest day of the year is also, for anglers, an important one - far more important than Christmas or even New Year. If I look around, in the garden or along the river banks, there are indications of new growth: the stems of at least some shrubs are beginning to bud and a couple of days ago in a sheltered spot I saw some tentative but vivid green: the first spring bulbs. The other things that give me enormous interest in the winter months - all year round, actually - are the bird feeders. And so far from being some final nadir, the shortest day can also be re-imagined as a beckoning.

Not catching whiting

Monday, 18 December 2017 at 17:41

Empty tide

Cold

Sunday, 17 December 2017 at 15:45

Freezing rod-rings It was so bitterly cold that the car windscreen cracked. I am not making that up, unfortunately. It was a hell of a way to begin a fishing day. Anyway, yes, it was cold: air temperature began the day (0600) at -4C and rose to a glorious 3C by 1400. Water temperature was barely above freezing (2C). In the afternoon some rain fell, and that was frozen too. To make matters worse, the river rose and coloured as we fished. It was dreadful. But dreadful or not, a handful of pike moved. Howard even saw some pike hunting as dawn broke over a frost-stricken Suffolk. The edges of the river wore a film of ice, rod-rings froze, finger-tips froze. It was one of those sessions when you were glad when you'd had enough. Have I mentioned that it was cold?

Lean

Sunday, 17 December 2017 at 15:41

Lean jack The first of two small, lean pike, both of which took a 6-inch Mann's shad. This one was around 4lb; the second was a touch bigger - 5lb., we thought. Howard also returned three even smaller jacks. Given the conditions, which worsened as the day wore on, it was remarkable we moved anything to lures at all. And have I mentioned that it was cold?

And the winner (Sea-trout) is....

Monday, 11 December 2017 at 15:36

Teal Blue Silver These are the last statistics I'll provide on flies that according to the diary records have been my most successful since the 1970s. You'll find stats and patterns for river trout, stillwater trout and grayling below. That brought me to sea-trout. Extraordinarily hard-fought category, this. How, really, can you compare between flies for Irish white trout (in lough, river, estuary), Scottish sea-trout (in loch, river, estuary), and Danish and other saltwater sea-trout? For saltwater, White Minkie and Pattegrisen (Pink Pig) did well, as did various Sunk Lures. Muddlers did well everywhere (generally black/yellow or natural/white), as did the Medicine. Of traditional patterns, Donegal Blue and Silver Daddy were outstanding, as were the Kingsmill (which I rarely fish these days) and the Claret Bumble. Yet there was one clear winner (drum roll): the Teal, Blue and Silver (sizes 8-12).

And the winner (Grayling) is....

Monday, 11 December 2017 at 09:42

Sawyer's Bug The statistics for grayling (please see below for stats on running-water and stillwater trout) are partial. Over the past fifty years I've probably caught as many grayling long-trotting as I have with the fly-rods. Nevertheless I had a go through the diaries, which show that I caught my first grayling in 1971. In reverse order, John Storey and PTN did well; KlinkhÄmers and Goldheads; dry Iron Blue and Grey Duster; Dove Bug; leaded patterns such as Shrimp and Hoglouse. One thing that did surprise me was the success of the dry Terry's Terror (sizes 16-18): clearly I fish this as an alternative to Red and Orange Tags. Of the traditional wet-flies, Orange Partridge and Snipe and Purple scored quite well. Yet one pattern stood head-and-shoulders above the others. And the winner is.... Sawyer's Grayling Bug. (Shown in the image is a Grayling Bug tied by Frank Sawyer's wife -a fly that, judged from its now mangled - and repaired - appearance, has already done sterling service on the Avon and elsewhere.)

And the winner (Stillwater trout) is....

Sunday, 10 December 2017 at 21:27

Cove PTN After ranking flies for flowing water (see below) I then ranked my records for stillwater trout. I didn't include everything: trout under 10 inches were discounted. It was also difficult classifying the patterns: the category 'midge pupae' for example included underwater pupae, hatching pupae (i.e. flies fished in the surface film) and dry midges. I didn't generally list for particular colours of natural pupa or sedge. Midge representations of various kinds were far and away the most successful patterns. The dry Daddy, the G&H Sedge and various Hoppers (fished dry) also scored well. The Pitsford Pea was the most highly-scoring lure, followed by the Viva. Of the traditional wets, Dabblers (especially the peerless Pearly Dabbler) did well, as did the Zulu, (Silver) Invicta and the Black Pennell. Yet by a fairly narrow margin, the outright winner was...the Cove PTN, a stylisation of any dark-bodied midge pupa.

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