Chris McCully


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Large dark olive

Friday, 31 March 2023 at 20:21

Waterhem It was only a sparse hatch and it was a long time coming, but between 1330 and 1430 today I saw more large dark olives than I saw over the whole of last season. For a brief period the trout were moderately interested. I saw no more than three or four moving fish but if you could get a fly to them they would sometimes take. The peerless Waterhen Bloa (left-hand column) was surely invented for just such occasions. In the event I brought just two fish to hand - a sprightly pounder that I suspect was one of last year's stock fish, and then a wonderfully marked 17-inch fish which I put at a shade under 2lb. Despite the modest result and the damp weather, it was heartening to encounter some fly and one or two fish.

Heaven, part 1

Monday, 27 March 2023 at 19:58

First of the season This was the first of the new trout season - a pristine wild trout. One day, long after I am dust, I shall fish again here - the river dropping and clear, the wind soft and lucid, the dippers and wagtails busy on the mossy stones. And if I'm lucky, I'll again see the line draw on a perfect little trout such as this.

Heaven, part 2

Monday, 27 March 2023 at 19:50

Downstream of the bridge I looked closely for hatching olives in these pool-and-riffle sequences. Between 1130 and 1230 (only) I did see a bare handful of large dark olives but that didn't really amount to a hatch and I saw no trout rising. After lunch I poked about under stones and found a variety of heptagenids and other stone-clinging nymphs together with the smallest freshwater shrimp I've ever seen. Those finds were heartening because during the drought of last summer the river here was almost wholly dry.

  After the rain we had last week, which caused the gauge to reach 1.25m, the river was dropping from 0.42. I'd have preferred the stream running a bit higher and have even caught fish in these headwaters on a really big water - so long as the flow has stabilised and begun to drop.

Heaven, part 3

Monday, 27 March 2023 at 19:49

Red post box

Heaven, part 4

Monday, 27 March 2023 at 19:46

Lunching with history Where else in the world could you stop for an angling lunch with history in the form of a Bronze Age ring cairn?

A soggy (non-)start

Saturday, 25 March 2023 at 13:45

River on opening day There's a tradition in the Club that the technical opening of the trout season - 25th March, these days - begins with a communal breakfast, followed by a meeting by the river to bless its bridges. Although it was a long way to go for a bacon sandwich, I did go for breakfast and thoroughly enjoyed the company and the craic. I had no intention of fishing, and domestic duties called me away mid-morning in any case, but I stopped briefly on the way home to have a short walk by the stream, which was running high and fairly coloured. There's been much recent rain, so the soil and subsoil are (thank goodness) soggy. The moors still looked brown and bleak, though lambing has been underway for some time now, and in these upland pastures the lapwings blew about like scraps of ash from a spring bonfire. They tend to spend the winters on the dale floors, so the return of pewits to these northern slopes always means spring, however uncertain the coming of spring can seem.

The River of All the Goodbyes

Saturday, 11 March 2023 at 21:22

Cover I've spent some time of late dealing with the final proofs of The River of All the Goodbyes, which will appear from Medlar fairly soon (we hope). The last job, completed on Friday, was the preparation of an index. You can find a link to the title on the Medlar website here:

  The cover image, incidentally, shows a stylised representation of the bridge at Grassington.

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