After catching my new PB grayling a few days earlier, I was looking forward to a trip for big roach with my mate Martin. I’d been to the tackle shop and bought a load of casters when a thought dawned on me; I wasn’t allowed to take guests on to the lake on a Friday! I rang Martin to arrange a trip to another venue, but he was happy to wait a few weeks for another crack at the redfins. That left me in a quandary. I was looking forward to pitting my wits against some big roach, but I couldn’t stop thinking about my new grayling hotspot. I couldn’t help but feel there were more and larger grayling that had evaded me a few days earlier. The fact I could have an extra 90 minutes in bed also helped my choice. I was back chasing the ladies!
As I arrived in the Wye Valley, I noticed there was rain about the hills. The weather came on the cars radio and said there’d be heavy rain moving in from the west around mid morning. I’d forgotten to check the weather before setting off, but I’d still have a few hours fishing before the worst of it was forecast.
I headed to where I’d fished before, but moved upstream this time. There were a few pools I’d failed to fish on my last trip, and by moving upstream I was covering new water. After walking a few hundred yards, I noticed an area where a lot of fish were rising for flies. Both banks were heavily tree lined so it was hard to see into the water. I presumed they were trout, but when I got right where most of the activity was, I couldn’t see a fish. The water was very shallow and clear, so much so, that I could see almost every pebble on the bottom. I couldn’t see any fish though!
Eventually I noticed a few dark marks that moved slowly. When the sun popped out for a few seconds I could see these marks were the tails of grayling, they looked good ones too, though they were superbly camouflaged. Here came the problem. The water was far too shallow for floats or feeders. I’d have to just use enough shot to cast to where I wanted, then watch or feel for bites. A couple of AAA shot was pinched onto my 3lb line, then a hook link of 0.9mm was tied to a size 20 hook. This might seem fine for grayling, but these fish were very line shy.
Straight away the grayling were interested in my maggots, but many times they shied away from my hook at the last second. They were certainly suspicious fish, but I hoped a constant trickle of maggots would fool them into slipping up. It didn’t help that they shot up for anything that resembled a fly on the waters surface. I own no fly fishing tackle, but anyone ‘fluff chucking’ that day would surely have cleaned up.
After a very frustrating hour, I didn’t think I was going to catch. Then one of the grayling came into a shadow where I could see it very clearly. I flicked my maggot a few yards upstream of it, then bounced it down so it was right within it’s eye line. The graylings fins twitched, it moved forward, then my white maggot vanished, so I struck. The rod curved into a weight, then the grayling started twisting; fish on! In the shallow, snag free water, it was just a case of not making any mistakes and hoping the hook held firm. The fishing gods were on my side, as grayling are well known for slipping the hook during the fight. I netted my prize and placed it on the bank for a better look.
The fish was long, very long in fact. It must have been 6 inches longer than the 2lb 4oz fish that I’d caught earlier in the week. It was also wide across it’s back, almost like a chub. I zeroed my scales against my sling and placed the fish inside. After a slow lift, the needle flew round to a fraction over 3lbs. I couldn’t believe it. I’d hit my winter target already. I repeated the weighing, just in case I’d made a mistake, and got the same number. I settled on a weight of 3lbs exactly, what a fish.
After a few photos I rested the fish in the margins until she swam away strongly. I noted when it swam back into the river, it didn’t look that big. I’d have said 2lbs tops!
Even though I didn’t think I could top that fish I carried on stalking the odd fish here and there. My next grayling weighed 2lb 10z, a weight that I’d have been delighted with 10 minutes earlier as it would have smashed my old PB. I just took a pic of this in the net, as getting a good grayling pic is hard work, plus they swim away a lot better the less time they’re out of the water. A walk to a different area produced a few more grayling around 2lbs, but I never bothered weighing them. The 2lb barrier is now a thing of the past!
As forecast, the bad weather moved in and it started raining heavily. I’d travelled a long way, but having had such a good morning I didn’t care. I simply packed up and went home a happy man. I think it’s barbel and roach time now!