Gave myself an early 50th birthday present today and went grayling fishing on a small tributary of the River Dove. I'd booked the day off work ages ago with grayling in mind. However, Sod's Law, after days of cold, sunny weather, some unsettled, windy weather threatened to throw a spanner in the works. Rain was forecast over in Staffordshire early on Thursday, so the river level graphs were watched intently and contingency plans drawn up just in case.
Whilst the river had indeed been affected by the rain, it seemed to be dropping as quickly as it came up, so I gambled and made the journey West on the A50. I needn't have worried because, when I got there at about 8 o'clock, I found the river to be absolutely top condition. Still fining down, but at a nice level with just a tinge of colour.
It was still rather gloomy when I started off in the "banker" swim at the top of the section. However, first trot down with the double maggot yielded a nice grayling. In fact the first seven trots down each resulted in a fish - five grayling, a brownie and a dace. Had previously caught chub from a couple of swims further downstream, but never a dace, so it was pleasant surprise.
Carried on trotting away, eventually ending up with a total of fourteen fish from that first swim before the bites started to dry up. Moved down to the next pool, but this didn't seem to hold any where near as many fish. However, it did throw up a small chub and another dace to go with the first, which was already more silver fish than I'd had in any previous session on the river.
Carried on downstream from here to the first of a number of fast, shallow runs where I'd found some fish before. Shallowed the float right up and inched it down the run, holding it back so it was almost horizontal. Was rewarded by a "clonk" on the rod tip and the sight of a grayling madly gyrating just under the surface. Steered him into some slacker water to land him, popped him back and then repeated the whole thing next cast with his mate.
Moving downstream, the impact of previous floods was visible in places, both in terms of the flood debris on the banks and trees, but also where the river had undergone some "re-modelling". One such spot was where gravel had been thrown up in a bank, creating a fast riffle that dropped into a new pool. Fed a few maggots in before swinging the float into the riffle. Held it back then let it drop over the lip into the pool where it promptly disappeared. Was left in no doubt what was on the end when a spotty went airborne! Proved to be another productive little spot, yielding several more grayling and a couple of chub, so was filed away for later.
In contrast, the next usual "banker" was a bit of disappointment. The bankside woody debris (and dead cow!) that had previously diverted the flow had all been washed away and the gravel had been pushed up to create a slower, deeper channel. First trot down I caught a greedy, fat minnow. Had another seven of the little buggers before I gave the swim up as a bad job and carried on to the next run.
Continued dropping into spots here and there, picking up more grayling and the odd chub. Had passed fifty in terms of total number of fish a while ago and was on forty-two grayling when came to another fast run with some slacker water to the side. Again, it seemed to have quite a few fish in residence and I was quickly up to forty-nine. One more trot through and I had my fiftieth grayling in the net. Decided that was a good a time as any to bring things to a close (I was pretty hungry at this stage anyway) and made my way back to the car pretty satisfied with my six and a half hours work. Finished with fifty grayling, nine chub, two dace, two brownies and a few minnows. Fully justified a guilty pleasure on the way home!