Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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Trotting

Tuesday, 22 October 2019 at 06:56

On the Wharfe It looks benign and at this stage of the proceedings it was, yet for three days the Wharfe had run high and coloured. Rain fell laughingly from the north. Leaves tumbled in amber and russet flotillas while the emptying trees hissed and rattled in the wind. Still, yesterday Steve and I managed half a dozen grayling between us during what was a short morning session - Steve five to my poor singleton, I'm ashamed to say - and the best of them made a lovely brace. For some reason best known to the grayling, trotted red-worm seemed to work better than red or white maggots, and it was grand to be out there with the trotting rods as the river level finally dropped. A rainbow formed over our heads while a buzzard mewed continually in a washed sky.

Steve's grayling

Tuesday, 22 October 2019 at 06:52

Wharfe grayling A lovely example of a Wharfe grayling, one of two Steve caught (and released) within five minutes of each other on long-trotted red-worm. (He caught three more, just for good measure.) There was a bitter north wind, there was standing water in the fields and there was mud everywhere - but fish like this can make much good.

Swimfeeder on the flood

Tuesday, 22 October 2019 at 06:47

Catapult There was two feet of extra water in the river last Saturday - an angry flood, peaty-brown - and so the only tactic viable was the swimfeeder. I immediately found I'd left the block-end feeders at home so I jury-rigged two old Arlesey bombs (remember them?) to hold current. It was a bit of a bugger's muddle but it did catch a handful of fish, among them a little dace (the first I've caught on the Wharfe for donkey's years) and - glory be - Graham the Miniature Grayling, who had clearly swum up from Hampshire for the occasion. And yes, since you ask, that is a Mitchell 300. Why not?

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.

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