Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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Heroics at Broadlands

Thursday, 27 May 2021 at 09:34

Leviathan Yesterday afternoon at 1700 Richard Faulks hooked, played and released a magnificent trout of 7lb. on the Test at Broadlands while we were constructing a feature article for Trout and Salmon. I watched the whole of this drama take place and even as an onlooker the stalking, hooking and playing of this fish, which was rising to mayfly duns, was unforgettable. It wasn't the only fish we caught and any of the others would have made the day but here the shutter is clicking on a very special moment, with leviathan coming quietly to the net.

Of artificial mayflies

Thursday, 27 May 2021 at 09:28

Mayfly box Richard caught and released his fish of a lifetime on a Mohican. I think it was the great Oliver Edwards who designed and first tied this pattern, which has in recent years become a modern classic. I find it fiddly to tie so this is one fly I buy: Fulling Mill supply a wonderful tying. The other design of floating mayfly I use is made almost wholly from CDC and is my own tying, made with a CDC plume as a wing and another CDC feather wound parachute-style as a hackle. That floats well, lands softly and the fish seem to like it, though you need to tie a boxful because like all CDC patterns the fly gets soggy very quickly after taking a fish. Other useful and effective dry mayfly patterns include the Grey Wulff and a biggish yellow Humpy, both in sizes 10-12.

A flukey wind on Rutland

Sunday, 16 May 2021 at 06:54

Sailing Club Bay Like Grafham, Rutland has been fishing well. Still, the lake is cold for the time of year (10C) and yesterday Lord Brown and I were confronted with unstable air, highly changeable weather and a flukey wind. That in turn seemed to unsettle the fish and the trout never seemed to come into a consistent feeding pattern. We did get a few: some fish were hitting hatching buzzers in the shelter off Gibbet Gorse, we found others off Old Hall and more stockies in Sailing Club Bay (pictured) so there was some sporadic action. We spooned a couple of fish: buzzer pupae (black, red, green, grey) were very much on the trouts' menu. Film-fished pupae, the washing line, epoxy buzzers under the bung....each of these methods took fish, with rainbows to 3lb. and a clonking brown among them.

Angling reports for Grafham and Rutland, updated weekly, can be found on


Thursday, 13 May 2021 at 21:17

Grafham rainbow The swifts were busy at Grafham. The trout were almost as busy as the birds. Fishing the washing-line (a Coral Booby and smaller buzzers) I released a good number of trout but kept one, this wonderfully full-tailed rainbow which was 22" on the tape and weighed exactly 4lb. A splendid session. Good to be out there again in the wind and the wave and the wide open spaces.

St. Mark's fly

Tuesday, 11 May 2021 at 20:22

Hawthorns The alternative name for the hawthorn fly, when it's not Bibio marci, is 'St. Mark's fly', named after the saint because the insects are held to emerge around St. Mark's Day, 25th April. Last year I saw the first hawthorns (males, smaller than their female mates) around April 13th; this year I saw the first numbers of hawthorns just today, which tells us something (as if we needed telling) about how cold it's been.

Hawthorns can be important to trout fishers. They're a large insect, a good mouthful for a hungry trout, and where they blow onto the water surface trout can become fond of them. There are plenty of good representations available. I've never found it necessary to imitate the prominent legs and chunky abdomen of the natural flies precisely and generally press a Black Klink or Black Gnat pattern into service (size range 12-14).

Hawthorn flies are important pollinators and are as their name suggests found around hawthorn bushes when these are in flower.

A bigger plastic worm

Tuesday, 11 May 2021 at 20:17

Baited spinner In occasional gaps between work I've tried to get to the estuary for an hour. These sessions are little more than walks with a fishing rod. There have been few mullet in evidence so far this year but today I saw some splashy swirls which must have been made by little bass. I put the baited spinner over them - of course I did - but the incoming tide was pushing up thick mud. Given the turbid water I doubt any fish had the chance to see the spinner, which I'd baited with a fake fluorescent worm. The thick-lipped mullet won't take that but the thin-lips just might....though I'll need a bigger head of fish, clearer water and a slice of luck. And maybe a longer worm.

Listening for nightingales

Saturday, 8 May 2021 at 10:59

Nightingale Nightingales still seem to me to be exotic creatures. I can't remember ever hearing one when I lived in the north of England. Here in Essex. however, the nightingales arrive in later April and it's fairly common in some woodland and scrubland areas to hear the birds singing against the rim of night (and often into the early part of the night). We went out two evenings ago and heard several individuals singing - such dizzy, coloratura songs, quite unlike the mellow loveliness of the blackbird. It's a mercy that the birds still seem to be surviving in numbers to make it back across Continental Europe to these shores.

There's been little fishing of late. Work keeps getting in the way.

Image licensed under Creative Commons: Carlos Delgado - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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