Chris McCully

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Muddled Chief

Friday, 29 November 2019 at 09:06

Muddled Chief I've been tying patterns for Orkney next summer. Among the flies was this splendidly muddled Clan Chief. This isn't an Orkney pattern but - in this adaptation - one from the Shetlands. I found it among Bobby Irvine's Shetland flies (https://www.shetlandtrout.co.uk/cast-of-the-month---august-2016---bobby-irvine.html). I've had success among sea-trout with the original Clan Chief (which ultimately originated in the Hebrides from the late, great John Kennedy's vice) and the Shetland tweaking looks as if it might work in peat-stained waters. Bobby Irvine notes that this brightly-coloured fly is 'particularly effective on hill lochs'. Although Orkney has few 'hill lochs' as such I'll certainly give the fly a lash once I'm up in the far North.

Cormorants as therapy

Sunday, 24 November 2019 at 11:37

Cormorants One antidote to SAD (below) is to oblige oneself to do...something, even it's a something that could be almost anything. I obliged myself to think of next summer and a possible trip to Orkney. The website of the Orkney Trout Fishing Association (https://www.orkneytroutfishing.co.uk/index.html) not only contains information about the trout (and sea-trout) fishing available to visitors but also has pages and images devoted to artificial flies successfully used on Orkney's lochs. As things were I selected patterns which I might also try on Grafham and Rutland and found myself tying half-a-dozen Cormorants - a fly which can be fished very slowly (in hatches of buzzers) as well as pulled (as a sort of mini-lure). As I was working I imagined standing stones, chambered cairns, violet sunsets...and rising trout. Fly-tying as therapy, I suppose.

SAD

Sunday, 24 November 2019 at 09:46

SAD There's a dip - of mood, drive, enjoyment - in every angling year. For me it always falls around the end of November and continues until January; I suspect it's connected with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which in turn is connected with a relative lack of light. 'The year's whole sap is sunk,' wrote the poet Donne of St. Lucy's Day (December 13th) and at this time of year I don't do well in the sap department. Occasionally I force myself to fish although these days, solitary winter fishing usually turns into a walk with a fishing-rod. (What is one pike more? One chub more? One pin whiting more?) It's better to fish in company, and if the company comes with a sunny day and a pie then all can seem more hopeful in the drear days of the full gutter and the fallen leaf. There are angling plans, too, and some winter fly-tying; there are the garden birds; there are special lamps which simulate exposure to sunlight. And yet... It's hard to adjust. However much I force myself to fish, I miss the energy I once had. I miss the times gone. And I miss my dogs.

The wicker men

Sunday, 17 November 2019 at 14:23

Screenshot Sheffield Howard spotted Hook, Line and Sheffield! - a film made by Sheffield and District Works Sports Association (1963). It features an angling match on the Witham together with footage and testimony from the anglers' wives. One woman 'packed him off' at 0400 then redecorated the living room before the return of our hero ('He thought he'd come to the wrong house'). Another said she wouldn't mind [her husband] keeping maggots in the fridge - if she could have a fridge. Times have changed, often for the better, but this is a sensational film. It includes the Brylcreem and pipe-smoke which were commonplace in my childhood and a beautiful wilderness of wicker baskets. Thanks, Howard. http://www.yorkshirefilmarchive.com/film/hook-line-and-sheffield

Big eyes and old geezers

Sunday, 10 November 2019 at 15:16

Howard We fished a pier whose entry once cost ½d. (Remember those coins?) The first chapter of the first fishing book I ever read was about Pier Fishing - something for beginners, old men, boys and girls. There's a whiff of candy-floss and old crabbing-nets - there's the fizz of false teeth and Kiss-Me-Quick - about pier fishing. I enjoy it, from the squalling gulls to the vinegary gusts of fish-and-chips. As it was, we were fishing for whiting - beachcasters, bombs, flapper rigs, with squid and sandeels in the bait bucket. We did catch a few whiting and there was plenty of action until the top of the tide.
Howard and I first fished together in 1981 - young bloods who thought they owned the angling world. We're ending up as two old geezers on a pier catching 9-inch whiting and wondering if it's time for lunch. Happy days.


Watching the rod-tip

Sunday, 10 November 2019 at 15:09

Rod tip I really must put some reflective tape and/or a betalight on that rod-tip. Generally I don't need the betalight and simply line up the tip-ring against some far-bank feature, such as (here) a particular crane. Whiting bite fairly boldly: there's a tremble at the rod-tip, then another tremble - a motion quite different to the slow scrapings of crabs (which are as fond of squid and sandeels as whiting are). It's often wise to let the bites develop...but not for too long. Generally I lift into the fish at the second or third tremble. If I miss a few - well, never mind, and good luck to the little bait-thieves. I also find that intensive watching of a rod-tip has the same effect as watching a float for long periods. It's entirely possible to stare both float and/or rod-tip into invisibility. That shouldn't be possible given the optics of the human eye but like thousands of other anglers I have fifty years of empirical evidence on my side.

When the tide runs....

Sunday, 10 November 2019 at 15:05

Towards Felixstowe Looking towards Felixstowe. The whitings had bitten quite well on the flood. Then we reached dead water at the top of the tide; the sun started to split the sky. Usually the next hour or two brings plenty of action as the tide starts to run off (left-to-right in the shot) but today the bites simply....stopped. I suspect the fell sunshine had something to do with it. But who knows?

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