Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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Firsts (1)

Tuesday, 30 March 2021 at 16:28

Rainbow The first trip of the new trout season. The first trout - half-a-dozen of them, including a handsome brown. The first house martins of the year, astonishingly early. The first real warmth in the day, the first hatches of fly, the first butterflies. And for one lady angler on the lake, her first ever fish on rod and line; coached by one of the local guides I think she caught more trout than I did, which was utterly splendid. With each trout she seemed visibly to grow in both stature and happiness. Strange to think that this morning I'd have offered no odds on our chances given a forecast of bright light and flat calm, but the trout thought otherwise. I even killed a fish for tonight's supper, a brown of 2lb., though I was perfectly content to release the rest.

It was a lovely, gentle beginning to another season's work.

Firsts (2)

Tuesday, 30 March 2021 at 16:22

Buzzer pupae The olive pupa (top) was one of Andrew Moss's wonderfully-tied patterns. Thank you, Andrew. It took the first of a leash of rainbows - it was certainly the right size - but thereafter the trout became slightly more choosy and seemed to want something closer in colour to the metallic grey/black pupae they were taking during the morning. A modified Footballer (size 12 - modified by applying three coats of nail varnish to the black-and-white horsehair) then worked rather better, fished three or four feet down. It was in retrospect a lovely bit of buzzer fishing, made all the more surprising because the conditions really weren't good, with blue skies and fell sunshine.

Firsts (3)

Tuesday, 30 March 2021 at 16:19

Brown trout Vanishingly rare that I kill trout these days but this one - fit and full-tailed - was destined for supper. 2lb. on the scales and stuffed with black, olive and red buzzer pupae.

Rutland ospreys

Sunday, 28 March 2021 at 14:01

The return of the Rutland ospreys The Rutland ospreys have returned. You can find out more about the birds and their journeys and can monitor their progress (and their rearing of another year's chicks) via, from which the above image was taken. (You can watch the birds over a live webcam by clicking through on that link.) The birds arrived back in England a week or two ago, I think, and will remain here, feeding and bringing on their young, until October. As with other forms of bird and animal migration I find the annual rhythms of their movements deeply reassuring. It's wonderfully positive that these birds have returned and are returning so consistently now to English waters and skies.

Almost ready

Saturday, 27 March 2021 at 09:03

Buzzers The beginning of another trout season. I've been sorting out boxes of flies this morning. It's ridiculous, how many patterns I've tied or acquired over the years. For April stillwaters, buzzer pupae (pictured) are the stars of the piece; I also tuck some weighted damsels and hoglice into the box and if I'm boat fishing, carry a handful of Blobs, which help present artificial buzzers at different depths, and some outright, if small, lures (mainly black ones, such as the Pitsford Pea). For rivers I carry spiders (Waterhen Bloa, Hare's Lug and Plover, Orange Partridge) and dry flies (Funnelduns, Emergers, with small black jobs for later in the month) together with some lightly weighted caddis and/or shrimps. That's really all I need and have ever needed - and yet like an idiot I persist in lugging multiple fly-boxes to the water.

Tight lines to one and all.


Saturday, 20 March 2021 at 09:48

CC de France When I began fishing (c.1966) we'd never heard of fibreglass (and still less of carbon-fibre) fishing rods. Our rods were cane: I began with a cheap, 8-foot Japanese job with a reversible handle. Then came five decades of remorseless innovation by the tackle industry. The gear we use today (I include clothing as well as almost all items of tackle) offers immeasurable improvements over the stuff we used in the 1960s and 70s. It's lighter, more robust, more reliable and needs less looking after; we're cleaner, warmer and drier, too. Nevertheless, sometimes the older tackle offered advantages over today's space-age gear. Fly-rods for smaller rivers, for instance. Some years ago I acquired a Pezon et Michel cane rod with two tops and that was terrific for trout and grayling: fairly light, responsive and threw a fly delicately. There were certain things that were beyond it - throwing heavy nymphs or duo rigs, for example - but for many forms of chalkstream and other river fishing it was splendid. That rod encouraged me to experiment with other cane rods, and I've been more than impressed - as generations of fly-fishers have been impressed - with Hardy's CC de France models. These have a crisper action than many cane fly-rods, they're relatively light (a 9-footer weighs 5oz.) and casting to and playing fish on them is a joy. The story of the CC de France is told here:


Saturday, 13 March 2021 at 14:11

Cox on Uptiding After going out for a day with Scott Belbin last December I think both Lord Seabrook and I became interested in uptiding and all that went with it. The history of the method, which was developed on the Blackwater and outer Thames banks, is wonderfully explained in Bob Cox's book (Uptide and Boatcasting, A.&C. Black, 1985). Essentially, uptiding allows anglers' baits to be presented on fairly light tackle well away from an anchored boat and its potentially fish-scaring vibrations (anchor ropes, waves on the hull....). The book's a model of what a how-to angling book should be: concise (100pp.), comprehensive and with a great balance of information and anecdote. The chapters about the specialised rods used in uptiding remain relevant and the advice on reels, traces, and even those small, vital components like hooks (Mustad 79515s) is spot on - and still current despite some brand names having changed since first publication of the title in 1985. The short chapters on fish species which can be targeted by uptiding - thornbacks, bass, whiting, even now-scarce cod and in the summer, smooth-hounds and tope - are also compelling reading.

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