Earl grey and grayling (Entry 111)

The water ran slowly. Disappointingly so. In fact, the word ‘run’ itself was a bit of an over estimation on my part. Ambled? Still too quick and this now implies an air of relaxation. It was far from that. More one of desperation. This river had not seen any substantial rainfall for weeks now. Beneath the gin clear water dead algae sediment lay in the margins, carpeting the smooth pebbles underneath in a rust coloured fur coat. Quite pretty really but one I knew probably didn’t bode well for the fishing. I had a feeling the grayling on my to catch list would be gathered in the more oxygen filled water. Those places of the river that always offer a little extra pace. Over the shallow riffles and beyond, where the water once more regains depth. Here I’d surely find grayling, laying up and leisurely picking off any flies and insects washed their way.

The above swim with its calming golden, hazy light penetrating through the trees was unfortunately no place to hang around for too long. The water here was much too sluggish but it was a great place to set up the rod and put a rig together. And have a cup of tea whilst doing so. Tea never tastes as good as it does on the bank. I decided to scale my end tackle right down; using a small size 16 hook, fine 2lb fluorocarbon hooklength and a small loafer float. I would need a float with a little buoyancy in order to present a bait properly in the erratic and boiling currents of the shallows. It was then just a case of setting off to find them. After finishing my tea.

My first swim choice, offering no more than a foot of depth was tricky to fish. Plenty of obstacles to hamper the cast and an unseen snag just before the area I expected to get bites in. I’d spent five minutes working this out without a bite. Time to overshot the float to enable me to hold the float back hard. It never fails to amaze me how tiny changes can see a biteless swim transformed. Especially with grayling. If the rig is not presented how they want it, at that time of day and in that swim, they simply won’t take it. You could be forgiven for thinking a swim is devoid of fish, only to change the depth a little, and catch several fish on the trot.

The lovely colours of the graylingWhich is what happened when I began to hold the float back, three bites in succession resulted in three lovely grayling, the disturbance of which was enough to see the bites dry up. I knew I had a lot of river to explore so rather than feed the swim and not fish, waiting for the graylings confidence to rise, it was a case of moving on. A chance to explore not just the river but the landscape surrounding it. The towering trees were still holding on dearly to their summer colours though it was clear that this wouldn’t last too much longer. Soon they would change to crisp yellows and if I’m lucky, rich crimsons. The pink flowered balsam stems will die back too, taking on a deathly brown hue and fragile texture. Before I know it winter will have took a hold and completely changed the way the stretch of river looks. I enjoy witnessing the transformation of the surroundings just as much as the fishing taking place there.

Back to it's underwater homeI was now another swim. A little less pace than the first and one I was unsure if it would hold any grayling. Only one way to find out I told myself. I began to feed maggots but was in no rush to send the rig through. A time for another quick tea. All the time trickling in five or six maggots. I hoped that there would be some grayling getting rather excited about this bounty. With each passing second their confidence rising. The first trot through saw the orange float tip vanished from view. A writhing and determined fighter on the other end. Unmistakably a grayling. They are terrific sport, not as erratic and supercharged as a trout, the fight fraught with much uncertainty as to who will be the victor. Their bony mouths making them far more inclined to simply dropping off the hook. This time however the grayling gods were smiling and I landed the fish, adding another two soon after.

Recovering from the fightLike barbel, grayling do fight hard and require the same care, so that they may swim off strong and healthy. We must be aware of how precious our fish stocks are and do our utmost to help protect them. The grayling above was one such fish. One that took a few minutes to ‘catch its breathe’. I gave it all the time it needed to recover in the landing net. Once it was kicking its tail and could hold itself in the flow, it was simply a case of dropping the front of the net, and allowing it to make its way back to its watery home. Time for me to find another swim and see if I could add any more grayling to the days steadily growing tally. After another cup of tea.

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Until Next time tight lines



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