Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

Fake plover

Sunday, 26 July 2020 at 11:23

Fakes Some traditional spider dressings call for golden plover as an ingredient. The Hare's Lug and Plover is a case in point: it's supposed to be hackled with a feather from a golden plover's wing covert. This is a soft-fibred, dappled-yellowish feather. You can still obtain plover commercially but it's fiercely dear - and I'm also fond of plovers, a charming and inoffensive bird. This morning I went in search of a good substitute feather. I tried hen pheasant but the fibres were quite (too) long. Then I lit on starling body feathers, which have the requisite softness and mobility but were the wrong colour. I took half-a-dozen such feathers and coloured them up with a Letraset yellow pen. The result is quite pleasing and I doubt the trout would know any difference between my Hare's Lug and Plover fakes (size 14) and the genuine article.

Rain up Littondale

Monday, 20 July 2020 at 17:13

Lower beat Three grand days in the Dales, one spent in the company of Lord Rhodes. We did get fish and it was good to see them, but the signal event was an unexpected summer flood which put the Dales rivers up by a couple of feet in short order. In retrospect I could and perhaps should have seen the flood coming, because clouds were gathering over the Dales even as the farmers raced to cut the grass, bale it and get in the silage. The silage-making gave rise to a hugely interesting and lovely contrast in shades of green as the emerald of the freshly-cut fields met with the deeper green of the field verges and the greens and greys of the limestone terraces.

Trout of the summer storm

Monday, 20 July 2020 at 17:06

July trout At the height of the flood I headed up to the top of the dale. The water was still rising and I fished for an hour or two at the zenith of the flood with no result. The water was an unpromising chocolate-y brown. As soon as the flood steadied and the levels began to drop - a matter of inches - the trout did begin to take and I released four lovely little wild fish before it was time to head homewards. I was thrilled to meet these diminutive trout; they're the future of the river as well as embodying its past. It's salutary to remember that this stock of trout has survived in these waters since the end of the Ice Ages.

Cranesbill

Monday, 20 July 2020 at 16:48

Cranesbill I suspect I've misidentified this lovely wild geranium for years and called it the (superficially similar) speedwell, whereas it's much likelier to be cranesbill. The flowers grow abundantly at the bottom of the walls in the limestone Dales as well as up field edges and are an ever-present feature of any journey by car or on foot. Other plants I stopped to photograph are what many people would call weeds - clovers, buttercup, ragwort, the delicate pale blues of late-flowering forget-me-not and finally, the yellow froth of lady's bedstraw. One website tells me that like so many other wild plants, the last has medicinal uses: specifically, it's used - or was once used - as a remedy for 'sexual desire'. Unfortunately the same site doesn't tell me whether the treatment promotes or inhibits desire.

Tench dawn

Sunday, 12 July 2020 at 12:33

Dawn on the lake Even if you keep what are generally speaking quite social, sociable hours - and I usually do, these days - it's good once or twice in the summer to get up at the crack and fish for tench as the sun rises. The world moves from darkness through monochrome to technicolour and angling theory has it that at these times the tench will make use of cooler water temperatures and be feeding, bubbling in bankside swims....

  I fished for three hours as the light came up. I had some twitches on the float - these were mere twitches, probably line bites - but not even the hordes of tiny rudd and perch were awake. Of tench there was no sign.


Loosestrife

Sunday, 12 July 2020 at 12:28

Loosestrife There's a wonderful Thelwell cartoon (in that masterpiece, Thelwell's Compleat Tangler, 1967) which shows a fuming coarse fisherman - ciggie and scowl up, black plastic coat on - well and truly fankled in great beds of wild flowers. Caption: 'His days are spent among the purple loosestrife and wild iris'.

The Compleat Tangler was one of the first angling books I ever possessed. I still often recall its images - and in particular, the captions - with a smile. It's a book that seems to have been constructed in and for a different, kinder and gentler world.


Lovely

Tuesday, 7 July 2020 at 08:32

Lower lake Richard Faulks and I enjoyed a grand day out yesterday as guests of the Norfolk and Suffolk Flyfishers' Society . It was astonishing that for one reason and another this was the first time I've fished for trout since last season. All the better, then, to get out there. The weather was unsettled but there were some fish moving even during the daytime - to midge pupae, I think - and it was good to release a few. It was one of those lovely, warm, hospitable and gentle fishing days that seem to come along all too rarely. Bonny surroundings, too. Thanks to one and all.

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