Today I got up early in spite of myself and was met by my mate paul to head north and try to snare a grayling or two. Unusually for one of our trips we woke up to textbook conditions for thymallus thymallus, bright sunshine and a hard frost that lingered from the night before.
We arrived at the river earlier than anticipated and met a couple of guys from the forum I post on, it was the first time I had met them and they were both really cool, we took a walk down the river for maybe half a mile talking about all things fishing then went our seperate ways.
I had rigged up at the car and was ready for action straight away, I used a pretty standard grayling set-up, A ten foot #5 rod with a floating line,two heavyweight nymphs, one a classic czech-style fly and the other a simple hares ear number with a tungsten bead to get down fast. I opted for a fairly long leader to allow me options as to what depths I can fish given that I didn't know the water in question, cap that off with a bright orange indicator and I was ready to go.
Straight away my buddy had a lovely grayling about half a pound after three casts or so, I bumped one off after a few minutes too, this served to pump us up even more and fish harder. Tactics were limited to a direct upstream approach, wading is prohibited here to preserve salmon redds so fishing the near bank is the only viable line of attack as staying in control of your flies at distance in these conflicting currents is nigh on impossible.
We both leapfrogged each other up the bank for a while without any success before coming onto a cracking pool, as is tradition paul was the first one into a fish but it wriggled off, a pity too, he reckoned it was a respectable grayling. I got disheartened soon after as I hadn't had a take in a while now, I had hit the stage where you start to half-arse everything, your concentration goes and basically you start fishing poorly. All of a sudden my indicator slid away in a very different manner than it would were the flies to snag on a rock, I struck quickly and was met with quite weight on the other end, the fish dropped downstream within seconds and had my rod bent double, it held station in the current for what felt like ages and resisted any attempt I made to bring it to the net, paul had to climb down the bank just downstream and I literally had to drag the fish up in the water and let it slide into the net, what a fight!
The reward for my efforts was an absolutely immaculate grayling of maybe a pound and a half, perhaps slightly smaller, It was such an incredible looking fish, bright silver flanks with a lovely violet sheen on its gill covers, the characteristic sail-like dorsal fin was tipped with deep red, all conspiring to paint a stunning picture. I got a few quick photos on pauls camera but resisted digging mine out the bag as I'd rather the fish went back strong and healthy than me having bragging rights.
After that I was pretty satisfied if I'm honest, I had landed my first ever grayling on the fly, on a new river with my new rod, what could really have topped it off? I opted to sit and chew the fat for most of the rest of the afternoon, savouring the glorious winter sunshine and taking in the new surroundings. I faked a few more casts and had a bite to eat and was more than content with my day, I will be back soon, maybe armed this time with the trotting gear to cover more water effectively, once I pinpoint shoals of grayling I can focus my efforts with the fly and know roughly what I am up against.
What a day :)