Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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Dead nettles and a jack

Sunday, 26 January 2020 at 14:23

Dead nettle The fact that the river's been up, pumped and in flood for weeks has meant that the fish have dispersed, according to the bailiff, and certainly there didn't seem to be any roach and dace topping in their usual haunts. Among those anglers on the banks there were in fact long faces all round. I went for a walk with the lure rod and enjoyed a couple of hours where nothing whatsoever happened (apart from a thrilling glimpse of a sparrowhawk). I also spent some time photographing what I think are dead-nettle flowers - the only touch of brightness on the banks apart from the snowdrops. Eventually I was surprised by a jack...but that was it. Glorious fishing it wasn't but in sheltered spots there were some signs of very early spring and the first songs of blackbirds can't, surely, be far away.

Estuary birds

Saturday, 25 January 2020 at 14:56

Black tailed godwit I'm hard at work writing at present but try to make an hour each day for a walk down to the estuary. The bird life is astonishing. Over the past few days I've watched Canada geese and greylags on the marsh and oystercatchers, redshanks, greenshanks, teal and wigeon, little grebes, bar-tailed and black-tailed godwits and curlews on the river. I enjoy watching the waders, in particular. They were having a grand feed today in the mud at the top of the tide-line. So intent were they on poking and/or sieving at the shallows that I could approach them quite closely. That three-quarters of an hour made a raw old afternoon somehow warmer.

Herrings and ballet

Friday, 24 January 2020 at 12:33

Herrings Take a moment. Look at any reliable source and read about herrings and their interaction with the copepods on which they typically feed. It's marvellous - underwater choreography, an intricate dance, a predatory ballet.... I was stunned by the familiar.

Image: https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/pictures/60000/nahled/heringe.jpg, accessed January 24th 2020


Moth sheets

Thursday, 23 January 2020 at 17:03

Moth prevention How to protect fly-dressing materials? Today I came across a moth-deterrent which consists of cardboard sheets impregnated with something or other. The sheets are designed to hang in your wardrobe. They pong a bit - synthetic flowers - though over time the whiff will surely wear off. They're readily available; I got mine at Tesco. Although I'm intrigued by moths and am even fond of them I don't want them hanging around the stock of CDC or partridge hackles, so it's good to have some sort of prophylactic. Image: https://www.tesco.com/groceries/en-GB/products/296243530


First snowdrops

Sunday, 12 January 2020 at 16:41

Snowdrops It's often on my local stretch of the river that I see the coming of the year's snowdrops. So it was today. Lord Seabrook spotted them first, which was a bit galling since I'd spent time on and off all morning looking in the familiar places for them. Still, there they were - a bit premature, hanging their frail heads against the weather. As I was photographing this austere snowdrop-clump a double rainbow formed in the river valley and a group of long-tailed tits were busy in the bushes behind me. It's on this same reach of river that I usually see the first mayflies of the year, too (Ephemera danica) so it's a prolific, even blessed little spot.

Turbid water

Sunday, 12 January 2020 at 16:33

January piking In truth it's not often we blank while piking on the river but we did today. Even Lord Seabrook - the only man I know who can catch pike on softbaits when the river's the colour of milky tea - couldn't work the oracle. Then again, he moved three, one of them a good fish, so the session wasn't altogether without incident. I suspect the yo-yoing of the water levels, the barometric veerings, the flood-turbid water all had something to do with our failure. There's also the fact (and I think it is probably a fact) that pike don't feed all day every day in deepest winter. They may feed - what? - three or four times a week, and sometimes less in bitterly cold weather. It's entirely possible we chose to fish on a day when the pike had their mouths firmly shut. And good luck to them. All the same, we had a walk with fishing-rods on an exhilaratingly windy day in the country and we even saw the first snowdrops (above). All good.

62

Thursday, 2 January 2020 at 07:32

1966 Plus ├ža change....

  

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