Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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A reel education

Thursday, 20 February 2020 at 17:08

Trudex Yesterday I visited Garry Mills at Mill Tackle in Studley ( I took Garry some problems which had beaten me - flipping over the pawl of an old Trudex and fitting the reel with a new lineguard; another pawl issue with a Speedia; the headaches posed by an antique Intrepid Rimfly - my first-ever fly-reel, bought in 1968 and a winch of which I'm stupidly over-fond. (I haven't used the Rimfly for years but there's an experience I'd like it to share with me later this year so I wished to take it out of retirement....if it could be coaxed out.) Garry not only fixed the problems but gave me a reel tutorial for good measure. I left with three fully-functioning and serviced reels. I understood them better, too. I'd even been offered a cup of tea.
    That was a long-winded way of saying 'thank you'.

The first blackbirds

Saturday, 15 February 2020 at 07:43

Blackbird Yesterday Monika heard the first blackbird song. This morning at 0634 I heard the first few tentative notes of the same song in a pause between the hectic stress of the storms. There's been increasing bird-song over the past two weeks - a thrush has been vocal, for instance, in an adjacent birch - but the first blackbird songs always constitute a great annual moment. Unlikely as it seems at present, the spring lies all before us.

Bleak and pointless

Friday, 14 February 2020 at 13:38

Pill box The only angling action - if it can be called action - of late was an hour with the quiver-tip on the pretext of using up some old maggots. The banks are thick with mud; the river is still coloured even though it's running at a fishable level; the floods seem to have moved the fish from their usual haunts: roach and dace now tenant the slacks, cuts and backwaters. I chose a slack churning slowly in a mill-pool. It's normally a reliable mark for perch. What perch could resist (I thought) a quiver-tipped red/white maggot cocktail? It would fish static, on the deck, and a swimfeeder would deposit a shower of free gentles around the hookbait. Well. If the theory was good the fish were unco-operative. There was a twitch soon after starting (a line-bite, I think) but after 20 minutes I got restless; after 40 I got bored; after 60 I went home.

Painted sky

Thursday, 6 February 2020 at 17:41

Trotting On our day's long-trotting for grayling Lord Rhodes and I caught only out-of-season trout - trout looking fit and well-marked, if lean after the rigours of winter, but they weren't the grayling we were after. Nevertheless, the light in the afternoon was spectacular. The clouds held a washed and wind-riven melancholy. That sky could have been painted by a Constable.

The Shock of the Old

Thursday, 6 February 2020 at 17:32

Record Breaker I wondered whether the Allcock's Record Breaker would be up to a full day's long-trotting. At 10'6" it's a touch on the short side but I like its action very much. Teamed with an old Speedia it seemed to be a good match for the middle Wharfe, with a relatively swift pick-up at the end of the trot. I suffered no great hand or wrist strain with the extra weight of the cane, either. The day before, lower down the river, I'd exhumed a B&W fibreglass Trotter (11' 3") and that, too, performed admirably. I even caught a little grayling from what was still a fairly high and coloured river. On both rods, I like the highish stand-off rings and the fact that the rods' respective actions are soft enough to cushion the end-tackle and the play of a fish in what are sometimes heavy winter currents. So both rods seemed perfectly efficient and I was content.

Lichens and germs

Saturday, 1 February 2020 at 11:43

Common orange lichen I've had some weird germ for days - scratchy throat on and off - and decided a walk with a fishing-rod might fettle it. The river was just fishable. During a very brief pike session I was surprised by lichens growing on the walls of a WWII pill-box. Lichens are fascinating...well, what are they? They're not plants, nor single-celled organisms. They're a reaction between a fungus and an alga (or cyanobacteria) - possibly a form of symbiosis. Further, because they absorb nutrients from rain, lichens are sensitive to air pollution, so they grow best outside industrialised areas; they can also be remarkably long-lived. The lichens I've just seen will have been born, as it were, around 1942. For the record, this was a Common Orange Lichen (see and

Remarkably unleeched

Saturday, 1 February 2020 at 11:38

Jack Another result of the walk-to-shake-a-germ was this bright and bonny little jack, of which the most and least that can be said is (a) it actually needed the big pike net and (b) it was remarkably unleeched. Lure was the peerless 6-inch Mann's Shad (flavour: Pepper) rigged on a 6/0 single. I tried other, bigger, smaller lures - different styles and speeds of retrieve - standing on my head and whistling - but with no success at all.

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