We have certainly had a very mild winter so far. No frosts as yet an we’re into November! I sat looking through an old fishing book last night; ‘The Ladybird Book of Coarse Fishing.’ I read it cover to cover most nights when I was young. Mesmerised by the illustrated pictures of strange shaped floats, tackle and uncatchable fish. At the time I seemed limited to only catch perch, gudgeon and if I was really lucky, the occasional roach. As I flicked through the pages, carefully as the spine has long since gave way, a page that used to hold my attention for a while caught my eye. It was the species page. From stickleback to king carp they are all there. A page crammed full of mysterious fish. One fish used to stand out above all the rest, largely because it was the biggest illustration on the page. It was the grayling. I used to dream of the day when I would be ‘good enough’ to fish a river with a float set up and catch one of these beautiful fish. To say it spurred me on to head to the river this week would be an understatement. So with a half a pint of white maggots and minimal tackle, the next morning I set off of before dawn, to put into practice what I often thought about doing as a child.
I only had the morning to fish but these few hours were certainly going to be enjoyed. It’s been a good few months since I last ran a float down a river and I love doing it. Today I planned to rove around and fish each swim for twenty minutes, longer if I found fish. As ever I kept everything very simple, using a Drennan Bobber float with just a bulk of shot about nine inches from the hook. With it still being relatively mild I felt that the grayling would still be in the faster water. Having said that the first swim I settled into was a slow back eddy under a likely looking tree. It looked good for a chub and it would be rude to pass up the opportunity. As I trickled in a few maggots I slowly drank a cup of coffee. On the first cast the float went through cleanly. I added more depth to the rig and eventually could see that the float was just dragging the bottom. After a few casts I had a bite which resulted in a minnow. Not a good sign I thought. There mustn’t be many chub there. Even so I gave it a few more hopeful casts then decided to look for some faster water where I would hopefully find some grayling.
Before long I found a lovely looking swim just before a much shallower section of water. I primed the swim with maggots for a few minutes and enjoyed my breakfast. Well, as much as you can enjoy a banana and an oat bar. Hunger satisfied, I began to run the float through the swim, trying different lines and working out where I needed to hold back the rig to lift the bait over shallower areas. It’s a joy to fish like this. On my seventh run through right at the end of the swim the float disappeared and I connected with a fish. It began to move slowly across the current and felt like a chub. Then the fish flashed and shook its head. No chub at all, it was my target fish, and a good one at that. I took things slowly, edging the fish inch by inch towards me. The grayling used the fast water to great effect and on two occasions I had to give line. Once the fish was in front of me I applied a little more pressure to bring the fish to the surface and to net. Ping! The hook pulled, catapulting the rig into the tree I was stood underneath. Disaster. I was sure that fish would have set a new PB for me. A few moments passed before I went about retrieving the end tackle from the branches. I looked on the positive side. The fish had not been lost in the swim and had not splashed on the surface. I fed a few maggots and had another drink. I hoped there would still be a good fish or two waiting down there feasting on the free offerings. Five minutes later I sent the rig through the swim. Nothing that time. I tried again with a similar result. Maybe I’d spooked the shoal? On the third run through however I hooked into another fish. Another grayling and another good fish. I took this one even more carefully than the last. When it came towards the net, my heart was in my mouth, and as the fish slid over the rim of the net, I knew I had caught my biggest grayling to date. The ‘uncatchable fish’ from my childhood had been caught.
I’m sure on other rivers this fish wouldn’t be worth mentioning. But thats not the point. Everything has to be put into context. For the river I fished this was a good size. Made sweeter by the back story I wrote about earlier. It is one of the most enjoyable captures I’ve had this year and am so happy I was lucky enough to experience it. For those interested it weighed 1lb 12oz and fell to double white maggot. I also had another good sized grayling of 1lb 9oz from another swim. Two good fish fish in three hours. I had to leave all to soon but I almost floated back across the field to my car.
A little indulgence on the pictures but why not? They are stunningly colourful fish. Purple, Turquoise, blue, silver, black, yellows and of course the crimson in the dorsal. They have to be up there with one of our prettiest fish.
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Until Next time tight lines,