Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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Of (partial) failure and fake worms

Sunday, 27 May 2018 at 16:35

Baited spoon The pimped flounder spoon (see below) didn't attract flounder but it did attract two tiny bass. The sea was the colour of milky tea and the making tide was full of stringy weed (called 'Mayweed' locally), which made fishing tiresome. There wasn't a sign of a flounder but just after HW, and by dint of pottering about in some clearer water (nowhere more than a foot or two deep), two tiny bass took. Greedy blighters. The total length of the mount, plus 11cms-worth of fake ragworm, was 9 inches and the bass were 8-9 inches long, so that was a triumph of ambition. The spoon worked surprisingly well - plenty of flash and flutter - and equipped with its fake worm it looked rather attractive. Pity the flounders didn't think so. I'll keep trying.

Pimp Your Flounder Spoon: Before

Saturday, 26 May 2018 at 12:28

Unpimped spoon In 1960, John Garrad wrote a masterpiece called Sea Angling with the Baited Spoon, in which he described (in brilliant, even obsessive detail) angling with the spoon for flounders and bass - mostly flounders - on England's south coast. His researches showed that the optimal length of trail between end of spoon and hook shank was exactly 1½ inches. Because I clearly went mad recently I thought I'd try to replicate Garrad's experiments on local estuaries and therefore spent an hour pimping my flounder spoons. When you buy cheap models of 'flounder spoon' they're ridiculously crude. I replaced the nylon and the large, coarse hook with 15lb. Maxima and a size 8 longshank trout hook, adding luminous beads for good measure. Lord knows whether these will work but we'll give them a lash. Garrad, incidentally, swore that flounders took the baited spoon because they were highly competitive with other flounders, i.e. they took the flash and disturbance of the spoon for another flounder, one with a worm in its mouth.

Pimp Your Flounder Spoon: After

Saturday, 26 May 2018 at 12:23

Pimped flounder spoon Bit of fiddling and there you are: 15lb. Maxima, couple of luminous beads, and 1.5 inches of trail behind the end of the spoon - exactly to John Garrad's prescription. The hook is one of an old stock of Partridge streamer hooks (size 8). If you do try this at home - Pimp Your Flounder Spoon, hours of innocent fun on a Bank Holiday weekend -  - then you'll find it's easier to snell the nylon onto the hook shank than tie a standard knot.

Itchen and Meon

Saturday, 19 May 2018 at 09:08

CDC Mayfly Just back from two days on the Itchen and Meon. The mayfly was up on the Itchen. Richard and I shared a lovely day at Kanara and its plentiful numbers of trout. I fished with cane and silk throughout and was delighted with both - delighted, too, with the success of this CDC Mayfly pattern, which I tied some years ago after being beaten by a trout on the Wallop Brook. That fish only took natural mays when they were fluttering, so I tied up some Klink-style flies with plenty of CDC. Then again, the Itchen trout took Humpies and Wulffs, too, so these experiments were more pleasing than meaningful.
The Meon, which I'd never visited before, offers rather different fishing and we released around ten smallish wild trout (best 10oz.) during a a few hours' work. Parachute John Storey, Grey Duster - almost any olive-suggesting pattern - seemed to work if cast quietly into channels between the weed. Stealth and delicacy were required. It was bonny fishing.

Kanara on the Itchen

Saturday, 19 May 2018 at 09:02

Kanara Kanara on the Itchen is a lovely beat of the river below Winchester. The lower part of the beat (here) consists of slower glides, with a larger pool where water from the Itchen Navigation flows into the main river. Upstream there's a succession of faster flowing streams and glides. Crowfoot and ranunculus - deep scours in gravel - trout in channel edges under hawthorns.... The reach was in some ways an archetypal chalkstream beat and we were lucky to fish it. Day tickets are available from Fishing Breaks (
Angler: Richard Faulks, to whom much thanks for company and photographic expertise. Richard caught his first chalkstream trout during our day on Kanara, and very handsome fish they were.

Kanara fish

Saturday, 19 May 2018 at 08:59

Itchen trout On the Itchen we shared a dozen fish between us. Many of them were of wonderful quality - some stocked fish, but with a leash of Itchen wildies, too. Here's one good trout of around 2½lb. It took a CDC Hatching Mayfly (size 12-ish). Those patterns seemed promising but if you do fish with CDC dry flies, tie plenty of each pattern because these scraps of duck's arse quickly get bedraggled and waterlogged and you need to change flies fairly often.

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