Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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Pissed blackbirds

Saturday, 5 October 2019 at 08:47

The bar One small thing that's given us joy is the way birds, insects and other wildlife have responded to the development of a more or less wild garden. Almost everything I've planted has either been edible or has been set out for the benefit of the birds, insects, mammals and wriggly things which use the plot. The vines, for instance: this year I kept cutting back the foliage so that the emerging fruit would ripen in full sun. The result was a compact bush replete with black grapes (variety: pinot, aka Chateau Hopeless). The blackbirds weren't slow to notice. Every morning and evening I see a pair of adult birds together with two or three younger ones rifling through the bush. One of our resident robins comes behind them, picking up anything that might have fallen. I sometimes think that I haven't achieved much in life, but then look out into the garden. After all, I made a family of pissed blackbirds - and that will have to be good enough.


Friday, 20 September 2019 at 14:21

Paddy Paddy Too Sjors van de Waterlandspolder.

February 2012- September 2019.

Into his short span he packed at least two lifetimes - and every moment was joyful.

Ospreys at Rutland

Wednesday, 28 August 2019 at 16:34

Webcam A blank at Rutland last weekend. Air temperature reached 33C so we fried. No one was catching much, particularly after the heat got into the day. We moved one fish in the boils and that was it. Still, we had two glimpses of one of Rutland's ospreys - the first ospreys I've seen in England - and after I got home I turned up the splendid web pages relating to these Rutland birds: There's a live webcam, too (from which the image here was culled) and a tracker, so you can see where the birds are on their astonishing journeys to and from West Africa.

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.

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