Who was that in my swim? My swim? Funny how you claim an area of river as your own once you have fished it a couple of times. I shimmied down the banking, a little less slippery this week, and left my tackle at the bottom whilst I headed to speak to the angler. As I got closer I realised it was a friend. In fact a few updates ago I had spent a session on the same river in his company. As I approached he was on the phone (no doubt to another fishing buddy) so after tipping my hat, wandered upstream to have a little scout around. In all honesty I didn’t know wether to stay or not. I was in one of those moods. Those ‘I know I want to be out but can’t seem to commit to starting fishing’ moods. In other words, an annoying one. The river look fine, all the colour from last week had dropped out, and the levels were if anything, a little lower than I expected. It looked like the phone call had ended. I headed back downstream. Half an hour passed whilst we exchanged stories and relived catches. I found myself telling my fishing friend that I would be making tracks to another stretch of river. A look of dismay; he offered some words of encouragement to stay. And I am so glad he did. After all, in his words, I should stay and enjoy the beautiful day in these quiet surroundings. I had to tackle down to tackle up. There was not so much pace on the river this week and I was still set up from last week.. If anything I wished it had a little more water on. The slight breeze that cropped up now and again stopped me from putting on a light stick float so I rigged up with an Avon float and and lightish hooklength and small hook. No caster this week. Just a mix of red and white maggots. My friend above me, happily catching grayling after grayling from some quicker water, I had the task of preparing a swim. In the hope a hungry shoal of chub took a liking for maggots. In which case we could share the bounty. One fish each. No pressure then. I trickled in some more maggots and had my first run through. No sooner had the float settled than it had gone. My strike wasn’t the best; more out of disbelief than anything. Somehow I managed to connect with a lovely little grayling that slipped the hook in typical fashion, sending my end take tree-ward bound. Friend with waders to the rescue. Gallantly untangling me from the tree and preventing a complete re-tackle. Time for a second run through. Unbelievably the float sank, again at the head of this swim, and a chub was hooked. That moment when a rod whipped upstream locks up with weight; I will never tire of. After a good scrap I had a near four pound chub in the net. No need for tripods and self timers this week. Once more my fishing buddy came to lend a hand and snapped the fish for me. After the commotion I felt it best to feed the swim for a minute or two before commencing fishing. There was an almighty ‘skplush’ as my friend, now back in his swim, deservedly struck into another grayling further upstream. I watched him play the fish in and upon him netting it, turned and sent my rig flying back out into the river. It landed a little further than I intended but decided to carry on with the trot. The float sailed way past the head of the swim with no bites and now neared an area I had took several chub from in previous visits. A tentative nod of the float and then a positive tug downwards. The rod once more hooped over as I connected with a sizeable fish. It felt chub like but somehow lacked a little weight. A small chub then. No. Now corkscrewing. Head shaking. Maybe a big grayling? Yes, yes it was! I saw it flash below the surface. It looked huge. My adrenalin kicked in and I hope that the hook hold, river and fishing gods would be kind. Please let me get this fish into the outstretched landing net without any hiccups! And there it was. I couldn’t get over the sight of another huge grayling safely confined in the mesh of my landing net. My fishing buddy had already begun to make his way over. To a, probably, very shaken up and excited angler. I was sure this was a different fish to my current PB set on the same stretch of river. This fish was a much more ‘lived in’ type of fish. Missing scales, red spots and one hell of a healed up wound on the other, un-pictured flank. Even so it was an amazing fish. My second two pound grayling of the year and I couldn’t believe my luck. I mean the huge slice of luck that I had just used up. I was so happy to have shared the moment with a friend. We both nursed the fish back to health. Taking it in turns to hold the net, all the while admiring its deep sided flank, huge dorsal fin and majestic lines.
We both fished on until dark, sharing a swim for the last few hours and catching some other nice fish along the way. A few more sizeable chub and a few beautifully spotted trout. But for me, the day had already been made. And I had one person to thank in particular.
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