In March 2018 I managed to catch a fin perfect 2lb 10oz Grayling on trotted maggot from a northern chalk stream whilst fishing with my mate James Champkin. Following this a second trip was planned and the date soon arrived and I found myself heading to James house at 3am looking forward to a two day session on the river in what we hoped would be perfect conditions. Not only were the conditions looking good with minimal rain but we were to be the first bait fisherman of the season so hopefully the grayling would be suicidal.
We arrived at the river after a four hour dive and wasted no time heading straight to the bank in anticipation hoping to see perfect grayling conditions however we were faced with something completely unexpected. The water was extremely low with no flow and crystal clear. After walking up and down having a quick look we managed to see loads of trout that spooked with the smallest of movements but no grayling. It was going to be tough for sure but we were up for the challenge.
The plan was to fish the upper section on the first day and then head down to the lower section where we managed some cracking fish on our last trip. On my first cast I could tell that there was going to be problems as my float moved about three feet in a minute. The flow was non existent and it seemed as though trotting would not be a viable method. With the water being so clear it was easy to spot fish and I spent a great deal of time walking stealthily up and down the river looking for my quarry but didn’t manage to find one grayling. It just went to show how few grayling were in the stretch and things were looking grim.
James did manage to find some fish located on a deep bend where there was literally no flow and a float would stay static. It was amazing to see such a majestic fish in the water feeding surrounded by multiple trout. You tend to think of grayling in the flow moving out and grabbing bait as it wafts down the river but this grayling was forcefully nosing around in the gravel and feeding on what we could only guess was larvae. There was a big hatch on the river and we were sure this was what they were feeding on. It was turning its back to the current and just swimming around in a fashion very unlike that associated with the species. Using a float in this area was out of the question so James set about light ledger fishing dropping the maggots and worms on its head but after a few hours it became apparent it just didn’t want to know. We had a joke about the size of the fish which was followed by a bet for a pint but then realised that to conclude the bet the fish had to be caught. James returned but the fish ignored every bait put in front of its nose and he decided to move on but kindly invited me to have a go at catching this critter. As he walked away from the swim I flicked out a Dendrobena with two bb shot pinched on the line to hold bottom and instantly the rod twitched before curving over. I shouted for James laughing my head off as I played what could only be the grayling that James had been trying to catch for ages. In the net she went first time. James came over and I had to apologise for poaching his fish and it was a very funny situation which we both had a laugh about. The fish went 2lb 4oz which meant that I had also guessed the weight the closest and won the pint.
The next day arrived and the conditions hadn’t changed. I spent hours searching for fish and finally found a couple of grayling in the same area where I had caught the 2lb 4oz fish. One was much larger but after trying to catch it for a few hours I gave up and had a look for some other specimens that were more willing to feed. It was then I got a call from James who had a bagged a nice grayling of 2lb 11oz and so I put down the kit and headed upstream to do the photos. That was to be our lot for the session and although we hadn’t caught that elusive three pounder we hadn’t blanked and it was nice to have a catch up with an old mate.