Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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Knowing one's place

Saturday, 8 June 2019 at 09:44

Zander I am Lord Brown's gillie and that's fine. Really. Still, among the Rutland trout lay something I hadn't expected as I worked away - sodden, wind-blasted yet polite in the ways stipulated in the Big Boy's Book of Being a Gillie - on the oars...preparing the lunch...doing the washing-up....spot of dusting...polishing the silver...completing the chores any gillie is reasonably expected to undertake.... Well. There was a surprise: a zander. 'Didn't think it was playing like a trout,' said the Lord. I shrugged as if I knew what I was doing. 'Oh yes,' I said (or possibly 'Och aye'), 'Little orange-beaded nymph, sir.  Deadly for the zeds' - and turned back to rowing, blister-handed, into the gale. One knows, after all, one's place.

Jasper

Wednesday, 5 June 2019 at 08:49

Jasper I've sporadically been restoring a Milwards rod I acquired some months ago from Lord Rhodes. The problems with the rod amounted to no more than a droopy tip section, a light knocking in the bottom ferrule, some loose rings and an overall loss of condition. One question I posed was whether to strip and rebuild - which I suppose I could do, even ham-fistedly - or whether to restore lightly, which meant tweaking, gluing and re-varnishing. (The droopy tip can probably be addressed by heating over a gas-ring and re-setting, though a chap needs nerves of steel.) One advantage of light restoration is that the original whipping silk can be kept. It's otherwise tricky to find a replacement silk in the same shade, which is called 'jasper'. Last night, having decided for the moment on tinkering rather than rebuilding, I gave the whippings an initial, holding coat of rod varnish and the jasper came up beautifully under the brush-and-finger.

The sett

Wednesday, 5 June 2019 at 08:40

Sett entrance It's one thing to make a garden whose primary function is to support wildlife of different kinds. It's quite another when wildlife actually moves in to it. Birds, butterflies, insects of all kinds....abundant and varied plant-life....rescued or grown-on trees.... All this was more or less expected and I've had great joy over the past few years designing, developing and maintaining the garden. There have been some less welcome incursions - cabbage whites that did what it says on their tin and ate a whole crop of vegetables, a plague of rats - but these have been dealt with, usually (though not always) without poisons or pesticides. One recent happening that has flummoxed me is the overnight appearance of a badger sett, or part of one. It's interesting to have badgers in the garden but they can do a fair bit of damage if they dig under retaining walls and other structures. And my goodness, they can dig. At the moment I'm waiting and seeing. If we can live with these nocturnal creatures, who are after all fiercely and rightly protected by law, then we shall do so.

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