Chris McCully


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Trout for supper

Monday, 27 June 2022 at 21:18

Trout for supper My correspondent, Lady No-one of Droppinghaugh, wrote to ask why it was I so rarely showed photos of any fish I (allegedly) catch. Was that, she asked, because I am an utterly incompetent angler and a serial liar to boot? Not really, Madam. Here is an image of one of two trout I killed today - a rather handsome 2lb.-er whose destiny will be the smoker and supper. This one took a little (#16) dry sedge flicked about in the shade under the trees.

The G&H

Monday, 27 June 2022 at 21:14

G&H The G&H Sedge doesn't seem quite as favoured these days as sedges with CDC in their dressings. Still, Goddard and Henry's fly is just as good now as it ever was and I like its robustness and floatability compared to CDC patterns, which so quickly get soggy and start to sink. Incidentally, another old pattern I really like to fish on the Dales rivers in summer is Skues' Little Red Sedge (size 16).

Blue skies and the sedge

Monday, 27 June 2022 at 21:11

Sedge I don't remember the sky being quite that blue but I've done no retouching so I suppose it must have been. A low river, a bright light - and my old friend Lord Bergstrom showing the rest of us how to do it. The fish took a dry sedge.

  '...No whit less still and lonely fair/ Than the high cloudlets in the sky....' (Edward Thomas, 'Adlestrop', 1917)

Shandy Hall

Wednesday, 15 June 2022 at 07:50

Border It will probably come to nothing, but I'm thinking of doing a bit of work related to Shandy Hall and its gardens. (Laurence Sterne lived at Shandy Hall during his time as Perpetual Curate - a very Shandean handle - at Coxwold.) I visited yesterday: the gardens are possibly at their most joyful and the roses - of which there are over a hundred varieties - are at their best. Much of the garden is developed for wildlife and the site is particularly important for the study of moths. I was delighted with it all and I'd thoroughly recommend a visit. The gardens and the house are run by the Laurence Sterne Trust. For information about the Trust, opening times and prices, see

Speaking of plants, because I was beaten by the etymology of campion (see below, 21 May) I returned belatedly to Grigson's Dictionary of English Plant Names (1974). I went to look up campion but stayed for a wonderful imaginative journey through the lexicographical puzzles and cultural histories of English plants more broadly considered. If you're at all interested in plants and flowers I'd urge you to buy a second-hand copy of Grigson.


Friday, 10 June 2022 at 20:07

Landscape The Dales really are lovely, aren't they?
It's been an instructive time: I've seen red kites, roe deer, kingfishers, abundant fly-life...and trout, too. It was noticeable that there weren't nearly as many greendrakes around in Nidderdale today as there were last weekend and the trout were much more inclined to hang around in the glides, smutting quietly. I spent time dawdling, peering under riverbed stones and looking at plants but towards lunchtime I did fish a bit. A size 19 Parachute Grey Duster eventually did the trick and I brought a really fine trout to hand - all of 15 inches and the better part of a pound and a quarter, I reckoned. I also saw an insect quite new to me, a kind of sawfly (I think - possibly Rhogogaster viridis): a bright, almost luminous green body and flat wings. I didn't see any trout taking them but they were spectacular.

Fiascos and floppy waders

Monday, 6 June 2022 at 18:40

Humpy The object was to catch wild trout from the Nidd on mayflies - and that I did accomplish, after a fashion. (The diary will record three smallish trout, two on a CDC may and the other - a slightly better fish - on a foam-bodied spinner.) Yet the day was laughably compromised by thigh waders for which I'd brought no wading belt. I tried to fasten them up as best I could but just when you're most in need of a discarded hank of baler twine, there a discarded hank of baler twine isn't. And so I flopped and foomphed about the banks, seething and sweating. To make matters worse, I took off the waders in the afternoon and put on a pair of rubber-soled wellies. How I missed the security of studded felt soles. As well as seething and sweating I was now slipping on moss-covered rocks, too. The vegetation was high; the brambles were malevolent; branches appeared in places where branches weren't before. And while I undid the fly from an umpteenth snag, down the thigh waders would slip. It was a wonder I managed to catch any trout at all. Still, for all that it was a bit of a fiasco, it was a grand day out on a part of a wild river new to me.

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