Grayling Fishing Lesson

I have made no secret of the fact that I find grayling fishing difficult. Trout are not a problem but when it comes to grayling most of my visits to the river are a complete failure. Talking to the grayling enthusiasts in the Club who regularly catch a couple of dozen at every visit just adds to my frustration. How do these guys do it? Determined to give the grayling another chance to redeem themselves I set off yesterday morning full of hope and armed with some worms from my compost heap.

Weather and river conditions seemed ideal and my optimism rose even further when, walking up the river to begin fishing, I met Stuart, one of the Club’s grayling enthusiasts. It was only ten o’clock and Stuart had already caught more than a few. This boosted my optimism further so when I got to the swim that I thought would be a good starting point, memories of all previous failures were put behind me and I was convinced that it would be only a matter of minutes before I too was pulling them in. Two hours and not even one bite later I decided that I needed to pop home for the consolation of a sandwich and a cup of tea.

Walking back down the river I again met Stuart who had, of course, caught even more of these pesky fish. When I admitted that I had not even seen my float twitch he asked if I would like to go down to the next pool where he could show me how it should be done. The first thing was to look at my float and cast arrangement. Well, I was fishing with too thick nylon to the hook. I was using 3X where 5X or even finer was required. Secondly I did not have enough shot on my line. My float was not balanced and there was not enough shot weight to get the bait down. Thirdly I was obsessed with trotting the bait way down stream when grayling can often be caught within the rod length by leaving the float to bob around in a quiet backwater or near to the bank. Stuart spent a good half hour making me up a new cast with sweet corn bait and showing me where I should place my float in the swim.

Notwithstanding his best efforts no grayling appeared, probably because they were sulking from his earlier visit. After a quick lunch and armed with a can of sweet corn that had lain in the pantry for years I was back on the case. On the second cast the float zipped into the depths but the hoped for grayling turned out to be a decent trout quickly released and unharmed.

The next spot that I tried is reputed to be one of the best grayling swims in the river and sure enough after a minute or so the float was off again. It certainly was a big fish. The kind of trout that I would have been delighted to catch a month or so ago was released safely from the net. Maybe I should try a sweet corn nymph next season? So much for Stuart’s grayling fishing lesson I thought as I walked down to the next pool.

However, I should not have doubted his advice for within a few minutes I at last had a grayling in the net and to add to my satisfaction it was a decent specimen. The bites continued and I missed a few but in the end three grayling came to the net, two of which were over the 2 pound mark. The fish in the photograph had, what appears to be, the remains of an injury from a cormorant attack. Thanks again Stuart for the grayling fishing lesson. I have already ordered a proper float fishing rod.