Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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Bonefish?

Sunday, 13 October 2019 at 10:31

Charlies I've been considering a last 'adventure fishing' trip - bonefish, permit and tarpon. Grand Slams don't interest me; nor does absolute size. Yet the flats on which bonefish and permit feed host intricate saltwater ecologies: a fly-rod is an entrance to those places and to all the other life in and around them. Strangely, tying and choosing fly patterns themselves - Charlies, crab patterns, Clousers - worries me less than storing a collection of flies in what is, for fly-tackle generally, a hostile environment. Here is a case for plastic: roll-top backpacks, plastic fly-boxes with rubber seals. That said, the flies themselves seem in some cases so exotic that occasionally I have a prod and a mumble: how does one assemble an effective representation of a crab from the usual fly-tying materials? How's it fished? Static? Twitched? Stripped? Well: we may (or may not) find out.

Prawns and the pit 1

Sunday, 6 October 2019 at 09:08

Bigger The pit holds big perch. I left all other baits at home and set out with prawns. I didn't want to be distracted by the smaller perch, skimmers and tiny roach and rudd that so often take baits intended for their larger relatives. No: it was big(ger) perch or bust. In the event, the first fish I brought to hand was Percy, the 6-inch perch. I caught him ten times more and added a surprised and surprising chub and a skimmer. Finally, however, the float - a classic perch bobber - dipped and stayed dipped. The play took line off the Aerial. At last a good perch - not a specimen, but a decent fish of c.1┬╝lb. - lay in the meshes. Utterly lovely.

Prawns and the pit 2

Sunday, 6 October 2019 at 09:01

Signals What do these bigger perch eat? Roach, bream and carp fry, surely; other, smaller perch; leftover groundbait. There are after all good reasons why some commercial fisheries are today hosting numbers of big perch. Yet this particular pit isn't exactly a commercial of the familiar type. What is does hold, however, are signal crayfish. A gentleman was trapping and collecting these invaders while I fished. His efforts weren't altogether in the nature of a public service (though the angling club has cause to be grateful). Another club member, he told me, loves crayfish and can't get enough of them: 'Eats a crayfish salad every night,' he told me.

Prawns and the pit 3

Sunday, 6 October 2019 at 08:58

Oddity Graham (the grayling), Percy (the perch) and Billy (the bass) - the same tiny fishes which have been persecuting me since 1968 - have now been joined by Charlie, the chub. Quite where Charlie came from I have no idea but Charlie is most definitely a chub: another image shows a beautifully convex anal fin. There aren't supposed to be any chub in the pit. Well, there are now.

Prawns and the pit 4

Sunday, 6 October 2019 at 08:46

Old The crayfish gentleman watched me landing a(nother) Percy. 'It's a set-up from the 1950s,' he said wonderingly, adding: 'Still works though, doesn't it?'. Yes: Allcock's Record Breaker, a fake Aerial loaded with 4.4lb. line, a perch bobber cocked on 4BB, size 12 barbless hook and Tesco's finest. I readily grant you that this sort of tackle isn't as efficient as today's ultra-light, quick-actioned, hi-tec gear (we call it 'gear', as if it's heroin). Yet if you're able to adjust your expectations, to fish with the seasons, to engage with the reciprocities of cane and water-condition and weather then... Yes, it does still work - after an old and lovely fashion.

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.

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