Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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Bass streamers

Friday, 29 July 2016 at 08:51

Sandeels My most-used patterns for bass over the past season-and-a-half have been various representations of sandeels or small fish. I use plenty of white bucktail and chartreuse artificial fibres (Veniard Krinkle Mirror Flash Yellow, the packet tells me) in the dressings, which I usually construct on hook sizes 6-8. Total length of each 'fly' is around 4 inches. Under a hurried carnivorous glance these patterns could pass for sandeels or I suppose for small fish, though if I need something less eely and more fishy I have recourse to a different pattern with a darker and slightly more voluminous flash-fibre back (the 'wing'). Sparkle and mobility of the dressing seem to be the keys, though I caution that my own success is limited and so far has been confined merely to schoolies. (NB. Fly second from right was shop-bought and used as a template. You can tell how much neater it is than my own efforts.)

Crease fly

Friday, 29 July 2016 at 08:47

Crease fly Since I've read everywhere that bass will take surface lures I thought I'd try to give poppers, gurglers and whatnot more of an extended trial. This image shows a Crease fly that I tied up last night....a pattern complete with internal rattles. These aren't difficult to tie: the trick is to get the proportions of the creased foam correct and thereafter to finish the 'fly' well with 5-minute epoxy or similar (I used Bugbond Lite). A size 2 saltwater hook seemed about right to me.

Strange tides and opportunist bass

Tuesday, 26 July 2016 at 17:20

Schoolie Odd little bass session, on a tide that seemed to take an age to flood. Although some tiny (9 inch) schoolies were awake from the first push of water, it was only at three-quarter tide that some slightly better fish began to show. These were around 1lb., though I moved one three times that size...and missed it with the usual stylish incompetence. On this tide it was noticeable how opportunistic the bass were: any push of extra current caused by, say, a small reef and they'd be into it, however briefly, before prospecting onwards again. Pattern seemed unimportant: a 4-inch-long streamer did well, but then so did a size 8 saltwater iron onto which I'd pushed some silver mylar braid. There were also long peroids of inactivity during which I simply watched the clouds bloom and disperse in the distorting mirror of the water surface. Lovely.

Of shoe trees and wading boots

Sunday, 24 July 2016 at 10:54

Shoe trees Yes. I fully accept that I should get out more. Anyway.... Once you've dried wading boots you're left with a rucked piece of stiff hide, tough as an elephant's corns. It struck me that you could find a use for those shoe trees which you have in the bottom of the closet. They're probably as old as you are, or were acquired from a boot sale in 1993, or were a Christmas gift in 1968. Tuck the shoe trees into the wading boots as they dry. Once the lot has dried, proof the boot leather or Nubuck or whatever with the relevant proofer. You shall therefore have prolonged the life of your wading boots and you shall also bless me for this advice when you try to put on your wading boots next time round. No more faffing, forcing, or falling about in car-parks.

This piece of advice comes to you courtesy of an almost mis-spent life. NB. No wading boots were harmed during the writing of this piece.

Sea lavender and little bass

Saturday, 23 July 2016 at 18:21

Sea lavender The saltmarsh has turned a shade of light purple: unless I'm wrong, this is sea lavender (Limonium vulgare). You walk through clouds of it to reach the water. At present the estuary's very warm and what bass are inshore are mostly rather small. Best today was a fish of just over a pound (to a streamer on 8-weight gear) but there was sporadic activity as the tide made and it was a most pleasant few hours outside.

Of 8-weights and the making tide

Thursday, 14 July 2016 at 09:09

Schoolie A few hours on the estuary, fishing with Henry, who christened a new 8-weight fly-rod (a Shakespeare Agility stick with which I was much impressed and would happily have pinched). Conditions weren't quite optimal, with an onshore wind and a bit of colour in the making tide, but we both got fish. Best of them was the pictured schoolie of around 1┬Żlb. This engulfed a 4-inch-long streamer. It always surprises me (though by now it shouldn't) just what large streamers even little bass will attack. Viable fishing seemed confined to the first push of rising water, after which the bass seemed to disappear. The presence of a seal (see below) can't have helped, but it had been in any case a lovely few hours.

Seal stopped play

Thursday, 14 July 2016 at 09:02

Seal This seal came within casting distance and followed me about for at least twenty minutes. In some ways the presence of seals is a good sign for anglers, because the seals will follow bass, mullet (and sea-trout). Of course it's also true that the presence of seals can and probably does impact negatively, if temporarily, on your chances of actually catching fish. And after a few minutes I found it disconcerting, fishing under the continual gaze of those apparently soft, lambent eyes.

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