Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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Rage for spiders

Sunday, 30 September 2018 at 14:22

Spiders Periodically a soft bout of homesickness breaks out. This usually manifests itself as an absolute need - almost a rage - to tie up some spiders, relive old Yorkshire fishing days and dream of Northern days to come. At the same time I make plans - the plans don't often come to anything, except when they do - and imagine an autumn crease filled with grayling, or the first hatches of March Browns and LDO next spring.

For all their simplicity I don't find Yorkshire spiders the easiest of flies to tie: shade of hackle (as here - partridge with a brown list for the Orange Partridge and with a greyish list for the Yellow Partridge) as well as proportion has to be right. But what fish-getters these flies are, and not just on their home waters. I wouldn't be without an Orange Partridge on the chalkstreams, for instance.

A raspberry at the summer

Friday, 28 September 2018 at 09:48

Raspberries Dreadful cliché, an angler grumbling about the weather, but for fishing it's been the worst (spring and) summer I can remember. The Beast from the East knocked out large parts of the spring; May was reasonable, though I was hard-pressed and only managed three trips; June to August was wretched - many of my Yorkshire friends simply stopped fly-fishing for trout: it was unreasonable to stress trout further. The two trips I've had recently were attended by storms (Ali and Bronagh). Now, in this part of England, river levels have shrunk back to critically low and the reservoirs are well down. I wish for a mildish, wet autumn and winter - something...normal. Though what now is normal?

Still, we've had plenty of fruit. This morning I stole the last raspberries from the birds. Summer's at an end.

Fishing the Void

Saturday, 22 September 2018 at 22:39

Failed Extraordinary session at Hanningfield, with my old friend Mark Brown. The lake was 15 feet down and vast areas of bottom were high and dry. There's been some heavy stocking and to date this season, 36,000 rainbows have been set out. It was therefore strange that we saw none of them: despite a massive hatch of buzzers we saw not a fin and barely a rise. There was a heavy-ish algal bloom (but I've caught fish in worse) and the water temperature (14C) was warmer than the air (11C) - but again, and although that's not propitious, I've pulled fish in worse. Hanningfield was merely a vast, apparently fishless expanse. We were Fishing the Void. Dry flies, fast-stripped lures, Snakes, Minkies, DI-3 lines and Boobies, stuff trailed in desperation.... None of it worked. I suppose there are those who'd say this kind of thing is 'Good for the soul'. To which the only reasonable and polite response is, 'Is it buggery'.

Fishing with Ali and Bronagh (1)

Friday, 21 September 2018 at 15:58

Daddy Two days in Yorkshire (at Mulberry Whin, which is soon to be syndicated). We fished through Storm Ali and its laughing attendant, Storm Bronagh. Wind gusts went to 70mph; two inches of rain fell - most of it down the front of my wading jacket. In the worst of the wind the fly-line described bizarre, unbidden arabesques in the air. Despite the weather, Richard Faulks and I had a grand time and shared a catch of around eight brace of trout together with two small grayling. I was absolutely delighted to catch (and release) these last. The trout, too, were bonny fish running to 2¾lb. or so, and watching these trout rising to hatches of olives in the gales and rain was utterly captivating. The first and best of the trout took a dry Daddy (pictured) fished at the onset and in the worst of Storm Ali.

Fishing with Ali and Bronagh (2)

Friday, 21 September 2018 at 15:56

Driffield wild fish This was the best of the fish on the first day - the Day of Ali. This wonderfully-coloured trout, which took a dry Daddy in the worst of the weather, was 19 inches long and probably weighed around 2¾lb.

Fishing with Ali and Bronagh (3)

Friday, 21 September 2018 at 15:53

Bonny On the second day the weather relented briefly and there was a grand hatch of olives (Pale Wateries mostly, I think) from noon onwards. The fish were selective and spooky but occasionally they made mistakes. Here's a very fit trout of 18 inches - around 2½lb. - which took a small dry Greenwell's (variant) dressed with pale yellow silk. By tea-time, Storm Bronagh (and two inches of rain) were with us. Happy days.

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