Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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Sunday, 30 June 2019 at 20:52

Ground trout ...which is rather how it felt at Grafham. We wasted a lot of time in the weedbeds around Savage's. Things did get better when we found clearer water around G Buoy. The fish were a long way out, in deep, cool parts of the lake, and it was hard work in the wind and wave. Eventually three trout took the peerless Pearly Dabbler, with the best at 3lb. 10oz. (see image), and I dropped another couple of rainbows. We came away when the wind freshened still further. No triumph therefore, and all a bit of a puzzle. The fish was full of daphnia, incidentally.

Not a bumper crop...

Friday, 21 June 2019 at 17:25

First strawberries ...but these are the first of the strawberries, picked this evening (the summer solstice). The drought and heat of last year was very good for fruit - by this time we had strawberries, raspberries, even the first grapes of what turned out to be a vintage Chateau Hopeless which the birds enjoyed - but it was good for little else. This year, with an unpredictable spring and then much rain throughout June, the fruit's backward. At least it's there, though it won't provide the ever-replenished desserts of 2018. We might even get the first cherries from a tree planted in 2014, although the wretched woodpigeons have played havoc with the plums.

Pays Basque

Sunday, 16 June 2019 at 09:48

Glenn Delporte In the Pays Basque Richard Faulks and I fished in the company of our expert guide Glenn Delporte ( We fished different rivers in the foothills of the Pyrenees - the Grande Nive, some of its tributaries, and the Irati, which eventually drains into the Mediterranean - and caught brown trout, an escaped rainbow and the extraordinary zebra trout. We fished, took photographs and did some fly-life sampling. The last revealed how prolific these streams are: caddis; baetis and ecdyonurus (stone-clinging) nymphs; loads of stoneflies.... The fishing wasn't easy and conditions were by no means optimal but it was a fascinating trip. The image shows Glenn fishing in the pretty village of St. Etienne de Baigorry.

The Grande Nive

Sunday, 16 June 2019 at 09:38

Grande Nive The Grande Nive, which courses through the Pays Basque towards Bayonne, is in all senses grande. It hosts a run - these days, a very small run - of salmon and provides significant brown trout fishing in its upper reaches. There are barbel lower down the river. We fished the Grande Nive on two evenings and caught trout on both. They weren't big fish - 10-11" - but there was a copious hatch of different flies (mostly Pale Wateries but with some False March browns and sedges). The birds liked these hatches just as much as the trout and I was entranced to watch the acrobatics of wagtails, swifts and martins. The Grande Nive also carries an extraordinary colour, running almost turquoise through shale and limestone. And here's Richard Faulks, netting a trout on our last evening's fishing.

Nive des Aldudes 1

Sunday, 16 June 2019 at 09:32

Richard in the Pyrenees This image, taken on the Nive des Aldudes near St. Etienne-de-Baigorry, gives a good idea of the often torrential yet always clear nature of these Pyrenean streams. The angler here is Richard Faulks. There are some flats and deeper flowing pools where dry fly can be used but elsewhere there are many miles of what today is called 'pocket water'. Our host Glenn tended to fish using French nymphing methods - essentially, with two tungsten-beaded nymphs fished on a special indicator leader. (This is also called the 'leader-to-hand' method.) He did this with wonderful expertise, working the weighted flies into pots and slacks off the current. It was a lesson in watercraft and skill. Fifty yards below where Richard is fishing here, for example, there on the left bank was a deeper scour and swirl of water no bigger than a writing table. From this Glenn extracted the best trout of our trip, a heavily-spotted 14 inch specimen.

Nive des Aldudes 2

Sunday, 16 June 2019 at 09:28

Pryennean trout The Nive des Aldudes, a tributary of the Grande Nive, holds trout of very respectable sizes, though a fish of 12" is probably about the average. The fishing is challenging - very clear water, wary fish - but as we found, occasionally those Pyrenean trout would make a mistake. This one took a Deerhair Emerger in a tight corner under the trees one warm, light-scattered afternoon.

Zebras in the Pyrenees

Sunday, 16 June 2019 at 09:25

Zebra trout High in the Basque country there's a river called the Irati which eventually drains into the Ebro and from there into the Mediterranean. The river's host to a unique form of trout, the zebra trout, so-called because of the stripes which mark its body. I know this one is no more than a parr but I lost two others (c.12") and could see their stripes quite clearly in that clear mountain water.

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