Chris McCully

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Blackbird

Monday, 14 February 2022 at 17:26

Blackbird I thought I heard a few trial notes yesterday evening but just now for the first time this year I heard that glorious thing, the blackbird's full-throated, liquid song. It landed like a blessing in this grey, rain-mottled evening. I know it will seem foolish but for me this first spring song of the blackbird is one of the year's great moments.

Kit

Sunday, 13 February 2022 at 11:45

No Text I've been fettling some of the kit. Leather's polished, or softened with dubbin; wading jackets are washed, proofed and ironed; waxed stuff is re-waxed. I know that thornproof jackets and trousers are heavy, that you sweat in them and that they can be colder than fleece - but the past months of picking up on local shoots have convinced me again that in the depths of winter you do need thornproof gear - fabric that is proof not only against rain and snow but will stand up to mud, blood, hawthorn bushes, and four or five brace of pheasants and partridge being carried over your shoulder.

  Cleaning and refurbishing the kit is an annual chore I enjoy. This year, after some difficult years, there's much to which I can look forward. I can begin to sense that retirement - above all, more time to fish and be outside - will be a pleasure. It's a faint light at the end of the tunnel but it's a light nevertheless.


Elephant Cock Hair nymph

Sunday, 6 February 2022 at 09:34

ECH nymphs Yesterday I fished briefly as a guest on a Rutlandlandshire river. We were trying to catch a grayling to add to my tally of grayling rivers. Like everyone else I have patterns which I use when in doubt on previously-unknown streams if fishing for grayling or trout. One of these bankers is Steve Rhodes' wonderful pattern, the Elephant Cock Hair nymph. (I tie this on barbless size 20 irons using a 2mm. tungsten bead. The only fiddly bit is slipping the bead onto the hook.) As it happened, yesterday brought a gale, intense cold, and only one small trout hooked (on a size 22 dry fly) and lost for my clumsy efforts and the ECH nymph remained unmolested. Still, because I lost a couple of ECHs in bankside branches I felt obliged to tie some more this morning. And so I did, revisiting with admiration the elegance and utility of Steve's original design. Wonderful little fly.

Lunch break in the garden...

Friday, 4 February 2022 at 13:30

Snowdrops ...and while I was walking round, there under the buddleia this little clump of snowdrops caught my eye. They're the first I've seen this year. It's always an annual moment of celebration when Galanthus nivalis appears. There's interesting material on the Woodland Trust website (https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/plants/wild-flowers/snowdrop/) - I had no idea the bulbs have recently been used to develop a treatment for dementia.

The weather's wretched but as I type these words I'm trying to be cheerful and am looking forward to some grayling and pike fishing in February, so there's much to enjoy in prospect.


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