Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

Fish in the freezer

Saturday, 17 March 2018 at 09:53

Frozen fish Summary to date of March 2018 angling efforts: (i) planned to go to river. River mostly frozen, incl. estuary; (ii) planned to go to river again. River in flood with meltwater; (iii) planned to go to local beach. Beach washed away in easterly storms; (iv) planned to begin trout fishing. Cancelled because of snow, easterly storms and treacherous roads.

Looked at fly-tying bench. Looked at local angling reports. Looked at weather forecasts.

Gave up.

First songs of blackbirds

Friday, 9 March 2018 at 07:51

Blackbird This morning at 0643 - just a few notes from a roof-top. Yet it was that authentic thing, the first phrases of the blackbird's spring song.

Estuary birds

Sunday, 4 March 2018 at 17:52

Redshank Putrid weather for fishing but I did manage a walk to the local estuary and photographed some wading birds. It's astonishing how you can look at something - our local estuary is an example - and not actually see it. For almost the first time I looked and saw - and as a result, photographed nine species of wading and other birds, from redshanks (pictured) through greenshanks, teal and pintail to black-tailed godwits. It was a lovely couple of hours and made much good.

  I've been thinking about angling plans for the coming months: mullet on the fly, flounder on the baited spoon, perhaps some shore casting.... Trout at Grafham and Rutland.... And some trips further afield to Hampshire and Derbyshire at mayfly time together with what I hope will be another Irish visit in the summer. It should make a varied and interesting year.


Sunday, 25 February 2018 at 11:07

Gammon and Venables Yesterday at 0610 I heard a croaky-throated blackbird - just a few broken notes. That wasn't repeated this morning.

I could have fished...but the wind-chill's severe (certainly on the coast). I keep thinking of codling and given a realistic weather and tide opening I'd go. Yet like spring itself, fishing's been postponed. Instead I've spent time working, writing, tackle-tinkering and re-reading Clive Gammon. A Tide of Fish, from which this illustration of Clive Gammon and Bernard Venables was taken, recounts some of the author's shore fishing for bass and (astonishingly) tope on beach and rock marks in south Wales in the 1950s and early 60s. It's probably my favourite of Clive Gammon's books but I'd also recommend the chapters - self-contained stories, really - in a much later title, I Know a Good Place. The quality of writing in this last work is stunning: engaged, poignant and often hilarious.

The readiness is all

Sunday, 11 February 2018 at 09:56

Reels The opening of the reservoir trout season is less than three weeks away. Cleaning lines, renewing splices and oiling fly-reels seems to be becoming an ever-greater annual chore. Then again, on some reservoirs control of the depth at which the flies are working is critical, so you need a glutch of lines in order to cope efficiently. My most-used lines are a floater with a detachable clear intermediate tip; a full intermediate, a sinker (something like the old WetCel II), and a DI-3. That covers the presentation of dry flies (the floater), buzzers (either slow inter or DI-3 depending on circumstances), traditional wet-flies (slow inter or sinker) and fry patterns (DI-3 or more often, full floater). Until I began to fish Grafham I wouldn't have thought that control of depth was quite so critical, but it is - as it is in some forms of sea-trout fishing. These belated realisations drive me to the reel spindles, the splices and the Permaplas in late winter every year: virtual fishing.

Mud, grayling and creases 1

Saturday, 3 February 2018 at 19:14

Itchen grayling Two short sessions trotting for grayling on the Lower Itchen. There were some sunnier spells yesterday but today was simply wet, raw, muddy and dispiriting. We did get fish and some of them were very respectable grayling around the 1lb. mark. I enjoyed trotting maggot and/or sweetecorn through the glides and creases in the current that so many of the Itchen's grayling seem to favour. It was also good to see that the fish were generally in feisty and fit condition. Yet overall they were two quiet days on a beat that is normally remarkably prolific.

Roll on, spring.

Mud, grayling and creases 2

Saturday, 3 February 2018 at 19:09

Top shallows Lovely being out there when the sun shines, though on this occasion the sunshine seemed to put the grayling off. We all managed to catch a few in the overcast glooms of the morning but when the sun broke through and the temperature rose to a magnificent 7C the grayling seemed to become very quiet. This was odd - usually you can do some briskish business with smaller grayling even in the most inclement and unpropitious of conditions - and as things were it was as if the fishing gods had thrown a switch marked 'No More Today'.

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