Chris McCully


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Tuesday, 2 January 2024 at 08:27

No Text Plus ça change...

Theory of the Small Worm

Saturday, 23 December 2023 at 16:21

Christmas grayling Just now and again it's good to encounter a number of grayling - an ample day. And today I did meet plenty of fish. I had made one change: mindful of Lord Roberts' strictures on the size of my worms, I used worm tails only, and tried to limit myself to a hookbait that was never more than 1½ inches long. This seemed to work satisfactorily, though I did get some nugatory pestering from the stream's resident minnows. I also tried to present the bait in every likely pause, glide or crease, not just the crease off the main current. That in turn meant dedicated exploration of some near-bank swims, even to small and apparently insignificant depressions in the stream bed. In short, I tried to be thorough. The grayling seemed to appreciate the extra effort. Best of them was this chunky beauty of about 1½lb: a grayling for Christmas, thanks to the Theory of the Small Worm.

Bleak midwinter

Tuesday, 19 December 2023 at 09:14

Trotting The rivers are finally coming into fishable order but it's been a frustrating business, waiting for the continual floods to subside. Yesterday was a case in point: a river more marginal for trotting than I'd have liked coursed past bleakly. Nevertheless, Lord Roberts managed to winkle out 8 grayling while swimming the worm (as our ancestors so delightfully put it), including one really good fish over 2lb. Meanwhile I was struggling and could only apparently connect with out-of-season trout - until at last I managed to release a bare singleton, a grayling of 12oz. or thereabouts. Diagnosing my piscatorial problems, Lord Roberts took one look at the size of my brandling - not a phrase I ever thought I'd commit to the English language, but there we are - and opined that it was far too long. So there you have it: my worm is, officially and on the very best authority, too big. And with that, I wish a merry Christmas and peaceful holidays to my reader.

Flood and frost

Sunday, 26 November 2023 at 07:51

Otter print The rivers in this part of the North have been in flood and more or less unfishable for weeks. As a result I've had only two days' grayling fishing over the past month, and what fishing I have done has been compromised by the sudden falling in of frost and ice. Of course grayling will feed at low - sometimes very low - water temperatures but they need a day or two to adjust to a sudden shock of cold. So although my efforts have been modestly rewarded, it's been cold, wet and tough work. One fish-hunter, however, has clearly done well. As levels have receded, leaving river-banks washed and exposed, animal prints are beautifully visible in the scoured sand. I'm pretty sure the print in the image - five-toed, and with a big pad mark - belongs to an otter.

I don't at all begrudge the otters their occasional fish. The creatures love non-native signal crayfish, too, and in the Dales I often find crayfish carcases which have been so beautifully eviscerated that claws and pincers are abandoned symmetrically - a neat left, a neat right - on the stones.

A good bit of kit

Friday, 17 November 2023 at 16:35

Kit by river The past month has seen all the local rivers in continual and sometimes grievous flood. October had 215% of its average rainfall and it's barely stopped raining in November. The past few days, however, have seen the rain and showers dwindling and today was mostly dry. There were even some gleams of sunshine. All the same, the river was marginal to fish - it looks OK in the image but it was a scree of water in places and I don't think the downstream beats would have been fishable. I did complete a short session with the trotting rod and the 'pin, and was delighted to christen a new landing net handle (Drennan Super Specialist) with a handful of grayling, with the biggest a respectable 1¼lb. The handle in question is a robust yet light model which extends to 3m - plenty for the small and medium rivers I usually fish - and will be particularly useful when used on the high banks I find on some local streams. It's a good bit of kit.

It was lovely to be out grayling fishing again.


Monday, 30 October 2023 at 15:25

Waiting The rivers have been in more or less continual flood for the past three weeks. That's meant no grayling fishing (the last three trips I'd planned were washed off). There has been much waiting; there have been many chores. I'm seriously thinking of taking the beachcasters to the local coasts, where the cod may be moving in mysterious ways.

A little bit of fly-fishing history

Thursday, 19 October 2023 at 08:30

Arthur's originals My friend Peter French kindly gave me a film canister in which were three John Storeys tied by John Storey's grandson, Arthur Storey in c.2008. Like his grandfather and father, Arthur was the keeper on the Ryedale Anglers water around Helmsley; it was under Arthur's watchful eye that I caught my first grayling, in 1972 (R. Rye). Back then, the club had asked us schoolboys to help out with weed-cutting, and the day's grayling fishing was our (gratefully received) thank-you for what was backbreaking work with a multi-bladed saw. I was telling the present keeper about this incident recently. 'It might be the same saw,' he said, 'that Arthur bequeathed to me when I took over.' I asked Jim whether he would like to have a go with the saw, just for old times' sake. The answer was unequivocal. All the same, I find them strange and touching, these legacies from what's becoming the distant past.

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