Trout mask [no replica] (Entry 212)

I sat watching the float, remembering days gone by, all the while getting a feel for my new surroundings. I was on this reservoir in the hope of making contact with a tench though I questioned if this was going to happen at all. The wind hurtled from left to right, creating a strong undertow which pulled my float mercilessly from right to left. Feet of line and several small shot dragged on the bottom, anchoring the rig somewhat, but the fish didn’t seem to be in a feeding mood. I caught a lovely pound sized roach on the first cast that lulled me into a false sense of security, then a brown trout made an appearance on the next, a big one at over five pound. But neither my intended tench nor any shoals of roach settled over my offerings of caster. I went home a few hours later with just two fish to my name. I needed a re-match.

Two days later, and with much lighter winds forecast, I headed back to the reservoir. This time, instead of caster, I brought half a pint of red maggots. For comparison purposes I fished the same peg, plumbing up roughly four rod lengths out where the water was nine feet deep, and swiftly began to feed little and often. Today, minimal line was needed on the clean, sandy bottom to make steady the rig, just six inches or so sufficed. The waggler looked perfect, sat proud in the water, just past the marginal weed that at this early stage in the year, has not reached more than a foot or so in depth. I wondered if today I would set my eyes on one of its tench. I felt I was in the right place.


The first two hours passed quickly and I caught five fish in that time. Unfortunately, each one of these fish were trout, and were the least trout-like fights I have ever had, battling strongly and controlled. They all convinced me I had hooked my target fish and I could scarcely believe it, when time after time, a trout made an appearance in the crystal clear water of the shallow margins. In a blur the last hour of light was soon upon me. The only downside to short Summer evening sessions. It was time to up the feed. By now the trout activity had all but stopped and I felt that precious few maggots would have made it to the bottom with these greedy swines in residence. Every thirty seconds I fed a generous pinch of maggots with the catapult. I crossed my fingers and hoped the trout would not notice. Fifteen minutes ticked by. No trout gatecrashed the party. On my fifth cast the float tip vanished at an alarming speed. I barely had to strike. The fish I hooked felt much bigger than any I had hooked so far and surged out into the open water at a rate of knots. These trout are steroid fuelled! Seriously fit fish. For four or five minutes the unseen fish stayed out in open water, twisting, turning, and shaking its head. Eventually, and with some stout pressure on my part, my opponent was coaxed to the margins. It was the strangest looking trout I’d ever seen.


And so it was I landed my first tench from the reservoir. A long fish and one that looked much bigger in the net than the six pound that registered on the scales. It was an immaculate fish, as the trout had been, and all shared a liking for double red maggot. I was more than happy to end the day with a tench. A ‘six’ on the float. There’s not many better ways to spend a warm Summers evening. Or a warm Summers morning for that matter.

Thanks for reading,



Chocolate (Entry 121)

My first glance of the river was less than welcoming. On the double take, so the feeling remained. A turbulent, chocolate coloured, watery artery that sent my heart sinking. I should have, at that very moment, turned around and headed for home but I wandered on. Desperate for something to inspire. Fifty yards later, I certainly found something. Or should that be someone. It was a friend, and WordPress comment-leaver extraordinaire, Cliff. Leaving my gear up the bank I slid down to have a chat with him and see how he was fairing. Not good was the verdict but he had at least caught. A good sized brown trout before on the next cast hooking something that just didn’t move. One of those annoying snags that make a river anglers life a nightmare. We mused over the state of the river and concluded that it would be another 24 hours or more before it became its more familiar self. To pass the time we wandered the stretch, exchanging information and sharing stories. Stories about big barbel and chub, from different rivers, far afield. But our thoughts were always drawn back to the monsters that called this particular stretch of river their home. In the end Cliff did the sensible thing and headed for home. I could’t leave though. Especially with his parting words echoing in my head. What are you going to do? You’ve got a blog to write! How right he was. I’d better hurry too; it was fast approaching mid afternoon.

As I set up the rod I began to feed a few maggots in a swim I have fished previously. Anything for a little extra confidence. Another plus point, although I didn’t want to admit it to myself at the time, was it looked like the colour was starting to drop a little. No, I kept telling myself, it’s just wishful thinking. But as I tied on the hook and fed a few maggots preceding my first cast, I was sure I could now see the bottom where once I couldn’t. My confidence levels rocketed skyward. From nowhere I felt sure I was going to catch a fish or two. Call it anglers intuition or memories and experiences from previous session resurfacing. Either way, as the float pulled line off the reel at the pace of the current, there was no way I was leaving here without a fish. I don’t say this in a big headed way. If you had asked me an hour before what my chances were I would have replied simply with a screwed up face. But now? On the second run through I hooked into my first fish. A very solid chub that, in the increased current, fought very well indeed. Parts of the fight saw two equal forces opposed. Meaning that neither fish not angler gained any ground. A stalemate. I certainly didn’t want to lose this fish. Precious on any session but even more so given the conditions. It might be my only one. Eventually, I managed to tease the chub ever closer to a waiting landing net. I was in all probability shaking somewhat upon scooping up a wonderful chub. Truly exciting fishing.

A very welcome chub

Over the next thirty minutes I had a run of small grayling. None of the fish were more than ten ounces with the majority being around five or six. But again their fighting qualities were heightened in the speedy flow and they provided some great sport. I also managed a small, but beautifully marked, brown trout. Jumping and thrashing on the surface as it fought. I feared, as I took a picture, that the swim might have been spoilt by all the commotion. And so it turned out to be. Whether it was the trout or that I had simply spooked the small shoal of fish that was in the area, I’ll never know. It was time to move on. With only twenty or so minutes left of daylight I headed to another known area to fish on until the light faded.

Always welcome

And fade it did. Far sooner than I wanted it too. Although it did call an end to a day that I was very lucky to catch on. I never had a sign of a bite in my second swim. It was’t a problem though. Once more this lovely river had not let me down. Though I fear I have been riding my luck of late. One day she will frown upon my presence and I will leave fish-less. When that happens I guarantee I will still enjoy every second. Fishing method I adore on a captivating stretch of river.

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Until Next time tight lines


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.

Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘like’ the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and Facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below.

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Until Next time tight lines


A change is as good as a rest (Entry 6)

Im always thinking about my fishing. Probably too much at times but its something I do and there’s no getting away from that. Because of this I try to plan sessions sometimes weeks or months in advance. I am telling you this because in this blog update I had a break from crucian fishing, and went for a roving session on a little river that I hope to use as a back up river for this years grayling fishing, which I actually start earlier than most people. I believe mild autumn days off a really good chance of a big fish rather than the harsh and freezing conditions in winter. Im not saying you cant catch big grayling in these conditions by the way but its just something to keep in mind. Sometimes it pays to do things a little different.

As you can see from the above picture the river itself is a small intimate one and not particularly fast flowing which worries me a little as grayling love fast glides. The depth averaged two to three feet and there was plenty of marginal cover and overhanging trees. I walked to the most upstream point I could and dropped into nine swims over three hours on my way back to the car park. Fishing a 6 no.6 wire stem stick float off a centrepin I edged a single red maggot hookbait down any likely looking spots. It was simple fishing and I got a good idea of what the river has to offer.

The first swim produced a bite almost instantly and I knew straight away I had hooked a trout. It turned out to be the above rainbow and weighed roughly 1lb. After all the commotion I moved to the next swim and continued fishing. Feed a few maggots and get the rig to run down the swim, holding it back slightly to match the speed of the flow at the bottom which is always slower than it appears on the surface. This swim produced a few small perch of about 4oz. I didn’t expect to encounter perch and I dont know if they grow particularly big but it was a pleasant surprise.

The next few swims all produced fish and I took a total of five trout with some perch and small roach thrown in. As I have mentioned already I got a good feel for the river and I now understand that the grayling population is sparse but when they are caught are very big fish. I think the venue will fish better when carrying extra water and if nothing else will give me a chance for a better presentation. So if the Dane is not fishable I will be giving this pleasant little river a go come the autumn. And with views like the one below to look at who can blame me!

Until next time,