After the thrill of catching a large grayling on my last river outing I had been hoping for the chance to hook another hefty lady. Frustratingly my wait had extended into months due to high and unfishable conditions which lasted all winter. I had kept an eye on weather forecasts and river levels but had to spend my spare time tying flies rather than fishing. Towards the end of February a window of relatively calm weather saw the water levels drop just enough to fish. Well at least I thought it had…
My heart sank as I walked across the field and found the river still very high and carrying a fair amount of colour. Perhaps the level had risen over night from rain further upstream. After a couple of minutes of hesitation I decided I should try for an hour or so.
On the bank I could just about see the river bed in about a foot depth of water. Further out and the water became very murky. With a feeling of disappointment I cast and worked my way quickly downstream, finding that the current was too powerful at my usual starting point. I finally found an area where the water had slowed enough for my flies to find an adequate depth. I decided I would concentrate on the water within 5 or so metres of the river bank. This area was generally around 3 or 4 feet deep. Any further out and the current was too powerful to wade and water too cloudy.
After 10 minutes my confidence got a nice boost as a grayling of around 20cm found my middle dropper. After a quick scrap it was in the net and I felt the day had not been a complete waste of time after all.
Continuing downstream with no further takes for 30 minutes or so I came to an area that was a bit deeper than I was comfortable wading through. I made my way to the bank and dragged myself out. The water had quite a nice pace so I decided to cast from the bank. On my second cast the line stopped and I struck.
For a split second I thought I had hooked the river bed as my weight 3 rod gave little resistance to whatever was on the other end and just bent fully over. NO! It was a fish! The line zipped through the water back and fore and I quickly wondered what I had hooked. I have had plenty of false alarms in the past and so seeing the beautiful dorsal fin eventually break the surface was a joy. The fight was by no means over however. The fish was in a serious flow of water and with barbless hooks I could not afford to rush things. Eventually the grayling began to tire though and It’s surges became less powerful. Finally it was ready, and slid into my net first time.
I raised the net and could see a grayling of 2lb+. The fish was a pin stripped beauty of 45cm. After a couple of photos I slipped it back and reflected on how close I had been to aborting the day earlier on.
I started casting again, and before long was into another decent fish. This turned out to be a fish of 38 cm and possibly a pound and a half. Another deep shouldered beauty.
Although this was the last fish I connected with, and I ended the session with only 3 fish, it had been a memorable day. Needless to say I will definitely be trying the margins during high water in future.