Chris McCully


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Tufted vetch

Sunday, 29 August 2021 at 17:34

Tufted vetch It was Richard Benwell - thank you, Richard - who alerted me not so long ago in Wharfedale to the multiplicity of plants we call 'vetch'. In Wharfedale we found the lovely yellow kidney vetch growing abundantly and ever since I've been on the look-out for other vetches. This one is growing in the field outside our cottage: the purple-blue tufted vetch. The useful website Scottish Wildflowers tells me that the seeds can be crushed and used as a tea-substitute; another site tells me that the whole plant can be boiled and the liquid used to enhance the flow and goodness of breast-milk.


Sunday, 29 August 2021 at 17:29

Tormentil Another wild flower we found in abundance, on this occasion on the way up Wideford Hill, is tormentil. The same site - Scottish Wildflowers - told me that the root of tormentil, when cut, exudes a bitter-tasting, blood-red sap used in tanning and dyeing; herbal medicine also apparently makes use of the same sap for curing or at least alleviating toothache, soreness and chapping. It's a lovely little flowering plant - more of a tiny bush - whose blooms actually belong to the rose family.

A good lure

Thursday, 26 August 2021 at 16:09

20g Toby A 20g silver/white Toby, refitted with a single hook with the barb crushed, did tremendous business among the mackerel today. It casts well, works beautifully underwater and, equipped with a single, it hooks fish pretty well. That said, I'd have given a great deal to have had a fly-rod with me because as we came towards HW the mackerel were hunting within easy casting range of the shore. Another tide, perhaps...

Hunting mackerel

Thursday, 26 August 2021 at 16:03

Hunting mackerel The birds gave the game away: gulls would work over the areas where mackerel were herding - an odd metaphor, but appropriate - the sandeels inshore, whereupon the hunting mackerel would then charge into the shoals of prey, often making a surface commotion as they did so. It was intensely exciting. This was less a fishing day than participation in an ageless ecological drama.

A clever idea

Thursday, 26 August 2021 at 15:58

Rod wraps Sometimes it's handy to keep a two-piece rod made up. Usually I secure the two made-up rod joints with rod bands made of velcro or something similar. I'd come away without any rod wraps so had to improvise. Leeda sell shape-able rod holders - the kind sea anglers use on pier railings. A pair of these costs next to nothing and is easy to tuck into a coat pocket. Problem solved.

Little tuna

Monday, 23 August 2021 at 22:20

Mackerel If mackerel grew to weights into double figures I suspect few anglers would fish for anything else. A magnificent predator.

Bit of a bugger's muddle

Monday, 23 August 2021 at 22:13

Hokkais I hadn't expected to fish for mackerel but I had brought along a fairly authoritative spinning rod and this evening, and because the mackerel were inshore, I fumbled together a string of hokkais on a paternoster above some sort of ounce-and-a-bit lead which was really too heavy for the rod. The drill was to cast, let the lead sink, feel it bump bottom and then bring the feathers back sink-and-draw. Great fun...and so too thought two local seals. Eventually the inevitable happened and I found myself tussling momentarily with two mackerel and a harbour seal. The seal got away with its supper and I was left a chastened man.

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