Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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A hundred years of the river

Sunday, 21 October 2018 at 15:22

Trotting reels Two days fishing for grayling in Wharfedale, with my old friend Steve Rhodes, and very enjoyable they were despite the crowds. Our fishing - some with the trotting rods, some with wet-flies - was successful if you count a handful of grayling (best fish was around 12 inches, though most were tiny) a success. Yet I think we both enjoyed long-trotting. Steve brought along a splendid centre-pin made by the incomparable Chris Lythe, while I christened a second-hand Speedia, teaming it with a B&W Trotter (fibreglass) made in the 1970s. In between the almost non-existent grayling and the pork pies we realised that we had around 100 years of experience of fishing the river, which must mean something, though I don't know quite what.

Below Grassington

Sunday, 21 October 2018 at 15:21

Autumn colours Wharfedale was looking utterly glorious.

Above Burnsall

Sunday, 21 October 2018 at 15:08

Loup Scar The river above Burnsall flows through a gorge whose name is Loup Scar ('Loup Scaur' in Reg Righyni's work). Grayling fishers will remember the famous photograph of Righyni long-trotting in the pool below the gorge. The underlying structure was caused by great upheavals in the underlying limestone (two different kinds of limestone were involved, I read, in the almost unimaginable foldings and infoldings of stone); at the end of the Ice Ages, the river carved a course through the rock.

Our fishing didn't yield numbers of grayling but we did get one tiny fish to the wet-fly at the head of Loup Scar and another in one of the glides above Burnsall. It was grand to see these little fish because the stock of grayling in the middle Wharfe has seen a decline since the 1980s. I hope beyond hope that these 'shots' survive the next winter or two (and survive predation by trout and goosander); they represent what may just become the middle river's breeding stock of grayling.


Small is fine 1

Saturday, 13 October 2018 at 15:11

7.2cm shad After last weekend's experiences of (some) pike nipping and following without taking I decided to experiment. 'Small is fine,' I thought, so used a much smaller shad than usual (7.2cm) on a single 5g, size 2 jig hook. I also scaled down the trace diameter, using some thin but strong 17lb. test wire with a BB swivel and small snap-link. The results were surprising: seven pike moved; five hooked, netted and released, with the best three running 70cm (2) and 75cm (1); and a couple of handsome perch for good measure. I liked so much about this short session: a hunch confirmed; the warmth of the day and the generous light; the relative ease with which these pike - fine, I grant you they were small pike, but they were good for the river - could be unhooked and released.... I had a lovely few hours of pike fishing and wandering, accompanied by late dragonflies, sedges and a pair of kingfishers. It was a session full of activity and interest.

Small is fine 2

Saturday, 13 October 2018 at 15:02

Pike release The frame of the big pike net is 70cm across at its widest. This pike spanned that exactly. Shortly after releasing it I netted and released another the same size, and half an hour later encountered another whose tail overlapped the net rim by 5cm, making - er - 75cm by my maths. Given a fit pike - and this one was - that's around 6┬Żlb. in old money. It was grand to meet such hard-scrapping fish. They even put a respectable bend into the rod and took line from the clutch of the multiplier. Unhooking them, via the single hook, was child's play - the work of a moment and a forceps- or finger-twist. And they swam off strongly, two of them with a tail-lash that was all contempt.

Small is fine 3

Saturday, 13 October 2018 at 14:59

Perch And of course with these small shads there's always the chance of picking up some good perch. Such handsome fish, perch. Once caught, they seem to bristle with righteous indignation. I could admire them all day long.

No cigar

Sunday, 7 October 2018 at 15:13

Little 'un First trip of this pike season, working softbaits over the dying weedbeds. Water temperature 12C, air temp. at best 15C, light SW. Moved 10+ (including a giant), hooked 6, landed 4, all small. Best around 5lb. Plenty of action but somehow I fished badly, and therefore.... Close, but no cigar. It was noticeable that several of the pike simply showed and swirled at the lures without taking them, or followed and nipped. They seemed curious rather than hungry.

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