Well it’s chilly out there now. Winter has finally caught up with us. Even when the sun shines, the blue sky somehow looks cooler and any breathe of wind, no matter how slight, feels like an icy breathe, cutting through clothes. Without sounding too dramatic; I love winter fishing. It’s one of my favourite times of year. You get to see some amazingly beautiful and atmospheric landscapes. It also keeps most people from venturing out and on some days you might not see a soul the whole time you are fishing. Oh yes, the fishing. And while yes, it can be hard, when you get it right it feels somehow so much more rewarding. So whats the secret to getting it right? I suppose it’s all about matching the species to suit the conditions to give yourself the best chance to catch.
With a substantial drop in temperature a few days before the session I knew I was going to have to rely on two species. Chub or grayling. That sounded good. But then you know what sounded even better. Chub and grayling! Why not? I was hopefully going to try and catch both species in a few hours roving. There was a hell of a frost the night before and I awoke to a white blanket covering everything. Including, of course, the car which required a lot of scraping and warming up before it agreed to take me to my destination. I thought it was white in the city but in the country it was even thicker. I couldn’t wait to get the layers on and start crunching through the undergrowth.
I headed for the above swim and proceeded to feed with a few maggots. I was itching to get started but far better to feed and get any fishes confidence before putting an alien line, shot and float through the swim. Five minutes later I had an exploratory run down. Just at the end of the trot the float vanished and I struck into my first fish, which kept deep and hung motionless. Chub time! I was in shock to have had a bite on the first run through, though I didn’t count my chickens, as the fish wasn’t in the net yet. I had a 2lb fluorocarbon hooklength so I took my time. I didn’t want the small size 18 fine wire hook slipping either. I had no need to worry though as minutes later the fish was in front of me and after a little wallowing in the margin, the fish slipped over the rim of the net. It was certainly a fat fish, having the frame of a three pounder and the belly of a six! The picture just doesn’t do it justice. The scales read 3lb 12oz. Very nice fish indeed, especially on the float. Returning it upstream so as not to disturb any other fish present, I continued to feed some maggots. In went the float and immediately sunk from sight. Right where I was feeding the maggots. It had to be a little trout of course, and it darted about momentarily, until the hook pulled free. Oh well, no harm done. The obliterated maggots were changed and the float sent down the swim again. In the same place as the first bite the float sunk from view and another chub was on. A little smaller than the first at 3lb 4oz but very welcome none the less. Twenty minutes fishing and two lovely fish on the bank. Now could I find any grayling?
In the next swim I once again fed a few maggots before contemplating introducing the rig. Time spent winning fishes confidence is never wasted. Just don’t overfeed them. Two or three maggots at a time is fine. By now the sun had rose. Its weak rays melting the frost. Dripping from the trees above me. Steam rose from the churning water and the anticipation of catching a grayling only grew. It was perfect. I just needed to find one or two. I was sure they would bite.
And bite they did. Not in any number but they were all quality fish. In my second swim I took just one fish at 1lb 10oz. One bite, one fish and then nothing. The water here was shallow and clear and I assumed any other fish had backed off or spooked completely. Try as I might I didn’t have another bite. But the beauty of roving is just that. You can move. So off I went in search of another grayling swim. On the day I was looking for crease swims. Where fast water met slower. Swim three produced a trout. A very lively trout that jumped and thrashed the water before slipping into the net and jumping out again. More an error on my part but the commotion ensured another move was in order.
I finally managed two fish from swim four. One of 1lb 12oz and the second at 1lb 9oz. Absolutely brilliant fishing. Two and a half hours on the bank and six quality cold water fish caught. All on the float and double maggot. I had to play with the shotting pattern a lot today. A bulked rig didn’t seem to be working and groups of smaller shot strung out, where the flow allowed, produced positive bites. And its not official; Grayling are the hardest fish to hold after the eel! But aren’t they magnificent. I have a feeling I’ll be doing a lot more grayling fishing this winter.
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Until Next time tight lines