Chris McCully

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Honesty

Friday, 22 April 2022 at 10:36

Honesty I'm pretty sure this is a wild plant which here in Yorkshire is called honesty (Lunaria). It's from the mustard family. It's known in some parts of the world as the 'money plant' because its seed-pods are disc-shaped, resembling translucent coins. (It's from that transparency that the plant derives its common name, honesty.)

The seeds can be dried, crushed, and eaten but the plant is perhaps even more useful to pollinators (insects). It's known in England as a cottage garden plant and its seed-pods are also used in flower decoration.

I found this clump growing close to home, where it brightened up a hedgerow.

'The primerole and the....'

Friday, 22 April 2022 at 10:15

Primrose The river badly needs rain. There are stockies in the dubs but yesterday they were mooching about taking invisible scraps of nothing from the surface and soon got bored with me. I also got bored with them, I fear. I spent most of the day photographing wild flowers and trying to shake a line of medieval poetry from my head: 'The primerole and the violet'. The line's found in the middle of a song-like, possibly Marian lyric, 'Maiden in the mor lay' (A maiden lay in the moor). It's a most mysterious piece: alternative theories have it that the 'maiden' of the poem was a nature spirit who later in the spring returns from water to the moor to feed on wild flowers. Anyway, poetry aside, primroses were there aplenty yesterday. I wondered about the term. The etymology of primrose isn't satisfactorily explained as 'prime+rose' (= first 'rose' of spring): the plant doesn't really resemble a rose. The OED conjectures that the word is possibly from an alteration of medieval French primevoire (< primavera), which was a term applied to the cowslip.

Iron Blue?

Tuesday, 19 April 2022 at 20:04

Not on the Iron Blue It's true that we met a few fish - the image shows my old friend Carson netting a trout - but the river was low, it was still cool and the fish certainly weren't lining up to take big hatches of upwinged fly. The trout seemed to be still in the dubs. I didn't see a single Large Dark Olive, nor an Olive Upright, but I did see what I'm pretty certain was a very small hatch of Iron Blue duns. These appeared - scraps of darkness - at about 3p.m. and the hatch, if you can call such a pitiful show of insects a hatch, lasted for about twenty minutes. Some trout were rising - the first rising fish I've seen on the river this season - and a change to a Snipe and Purple fished on the top dropper did bring a result. Still, no-one seems to have told the dale that we're well into April now and it's time to put last winter behind us.

A first for everything

Tuesday, 12 April 2022 at 10:28

This morning I set off for the river, which lies 80 minutes' drive away. The roads were benign. The river was at a good level. I was greatly looking forward to it all. I opened the car boot - to find I'd stylishly left the 10-foot 4-weight back in York and had no spare.
    I've left other stuff behind over the years - nets, waistcoats, lunch. I've even taken along the wrong rod. But in nearly 60 years of fishing I've never left a rod behind.
    I shall laugh about it eventually... but not, I think, quite yet.

More like winter than spring (1)

Tuesday, 5 April 2022 at 20:35

Net and wading staff Two weeks ago we were catching trout in what was almost shirt-sleeve weather. This week you've needed thermals. It's been much more like winter than spring, certainly on the spine of the Dales hills. To the east, in the Vale of York, the weather's been kinder and spring is much more advanced than in Wharfedale.

At least I've christened a new rubber-mesh net and have been pleased with the performance of an antique cane landing net handle which doubles as a wading staff. Rubber button on the end, some sheet lead wrapped round the shaft and nailed in place.... Away you go. I think if I had to recommend one vital, even potentially life-saving accessory for use on the Dales rivers it would be a wading staff.


More like winter than spring (2)

Tuesday, 5 April 2022 at 20:25

Copperhead Nymph Yes, more like winter than spring, with the water and air temperature alike at a glorious 8C and the laughing rain coming and going on a gusty wind that had plenty of north in it. At this time of year the trout in the Dales rivers tend to mooch about in the dubs for most of the day but will prospect into the currents at the pool-heads if and when any fly appears. Unfortunately I saw no fly and equally, I saw no rising fish. Quite against the run of play, however, at 1050 the line drew away and a decent trout was on. It had taken the Copperhead. When I worked it to hand it turned out to be around 13 inches of beautifully-marked wild brown trout. I slipped out the barbless iron, admired the trout briefly and then...off it swam.

I used to tie something similar with a lead underbody - that was Roger Fogg's pattern of caddis, I think - but the Copperhead is simpler and quicker to tie and is probably even more effective when used to simulate a cased caddis. Stuart Minnikin ties and sells a wonderful version of the pattern. Check out https://yorkshire-dales-flyfishing.com/nymphs.htm


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