Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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How big's your prawn?

Wednesday, 21 August 2019 at 15:44

Prawns A few hours spent with small fish (roach, perch, skimmers). I experimented with prawns as a hookbait. Of course it's been well-known for decades that frozen prawns are effective when fished for perch but I hadn't myself used them until today. I thought I'd found a wonder bait. Every cast brought a dip of the float. The perch were no size - the best would have been half a pound - and I wondered how big the prawn(s) would have to be for them to refuse to take it/them. They took half prawns; small whole prawns; big whole prawns. The float even dipped to two whole prawns (a ginger operation to hook them, even on a size 16 wide-gape). Then bites simply....died. The wonder bait had been wondrous for ten minutes. Then again, I suspect the perch I released alerted other perch and that might have killed the fishing for a while. It was a promising experiment while it lasted, though.

Of a droopy tip

Wednesday, 21 August 2019 at 15:37

Droopy tip Lovely rod, the Swimversa - light and versatile. It's so light, in fact, that it pulls over to a half-pound perch. This Swimversa must be at least sixty years old and it's acquired something of a droopy tip. I did try to fettle it (gas flame and nerves) but clearly that remedy hasn't taken. The bottom ferrule also has a minor knock. I spent part of this afternoon wondering whether I should entrust someone else with the restoration work that is probably needed and I think I probably shall. Still, that's a fine thing about cane rods. You don't really 'own' them. You're merely their custodian and therefore responsible for passing them on in good order.

Palm sized

Wednesday, 21 August 2019 at 15:30

Skimmer The fish were all palm-sized - sometimes, at best, they ran to nine inches, which is the length between watch-strap and tip of middle finger. Still, it was intriguing: the roach and skimmers definitely took best with the bait - usually a single maggot on a size 18 barbless hook - fished on the drop, falling through a small handful of loose maggots. The perch, on the other hand, definitely took best (as one might expect) with the bait - prawn or maggot - on the bottom. There did come a time this afternoon when all bites stopped more or less completely, and that was interesting too...though also baffling. I tried to be sparing with loose feed but were the fish literally fed up?

Swan mussel

Sunday, 18 August 2019 at 16:34

Swan mussel The most remarkable thing about an odd little (non-)tench and (non-)crucian session was fishing up the top half of a swan mussel shell. Nothing remarkable about that, you may think - until you see the sheer size of this magnificent bit of mollusc engineering. I used to find plenty of duck and swan mussels in (parts of) the Netherlands when I was fishing for pike and zander but never have I witnessed anything approaching these proportions. I kept my left hand in the shot just for scale. I also pondered the underwater contours of this small gravel pit. If there are swan mussels present then their beds form useful habitat and shelter for fry and smaller fish...and since that's the case, the larger fish (probably perch, in this pit) won't be far away. In an adjacent pit perch have been caught to around 3lb.

Autumn in summer

Sunday, 18 August 2019 at 16:24

Rain Ostensibly I was fishing for tench and crucians. I caught just about everything else - skimmers, roach, perch - but couldn't buy a bite from either tench or crucian. A chap fishing nearby (a man far more skilled than I'll ever be) was having the same baleful non-crucian experience. 'Usually get 'em on a bit of meat over a bed of sweetcorn,' he said. 'Not today.' I'd left the Spam at home and couldn't be bothered to open the sweetcorn. The chap went home. It began to rain. Then it rained harder. Autumn fell in August and a bitter wind sprang up. This ill-tempered fit of weather subsided an hour later but then the perch decided that the red maggots I was using were probably the best thing ever, or at least since they last saw lobworms. Thereafter I didn't just catch one perch, nor even two. I lost count. Nothing was bigger than half a pound and after a while - and this I thought I'd never say - I began to stale of the infinite variety of the perch.

Lister's monument

Friday, 9 August 2019 at 17:38

Lister's grave Sylvester Lister (1821-1900) was a river-watcher on the Bolton Abbey estate (on the Wharfe in Yorkshire), a fine angler and a famous dresser of flies. He was a founder member (in 1873) of what became the Appletreewick, Barden and Burnsall Angling Club. I've been lucky enough to see his manuscript of patterns, written on parchment (1898); many of the dressings recorded there (and in Pritt 1885) were already well-known and in turn formed the basis for some of the dressings subsequently given in Edmonds and Lee (1916).
It seems appropriate that Sylvester Lister is buried in the grounds of Bolton Priory church, within sight and sound of the river he loved. Appropriate, too, for the angling visitor to stand quietly for a few moments there, in homage and gratitude.

A useful trio

Friday, 9 August 2019 at 17:30

A useful cast With the Wharfe running a foot above normal summer level there wasn't much question of fishing dry flies and in a bare ninety minutes' fishing one morning I saw nothing rising. It was reasonable to put up spiders anchored with a small copper-headed nymph: the Copperhead (left in image) seemed sensible given that the trout would be in soft water just off the flows, rooting about for caddis. Above it I put up two classic spiders, the Partridge and Yellow and the Partridge and Orange (size 16), thinking that the odd trout might just be interested in small stonefly nymphs or needle-flies. The Partridge and Orange moved a fish soon after I began but it was eventually the Copperhead which saw a fine old trout come to hand. Still, the spiders on the droppers did attract fish and I like to think Sylvester Lister would have been at least moderately pleased.

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