08/01/2017 - A morning salvaged.
With an unsettled, windy weather forecast casting doubt on a planned day off next week, I managed to get a pass out for a few hours this weekend instead for another go at the grayling. Sunday duly saw me heading West on the A50 in the darkness of the early morning. Thought I'd try a section of the River Dove near Tutbury that I'd neglected for a while, a decision that nearly back-fired on me. Arrived to find a car park devoid of life, apart from the scattered remains of several Saturday night fast food meals. Squeezed into the neoprenes (first time after Christmas!) and then stomped across the meadows through the fog up to the weir at the top end of the section. Had fancied the run off the main weir pool for a grayling or two, but had never got around to fishing it last season. Had the rod set up in a jiffy and was soon running a float downstream with two, juicy maggots tripping the bottom beneath it.
The fog decided to descend at this point so the light quality actually got worse before it got better, so initially I was struggling to see the float in the broken water beyond about 25 metres. Didn't actually see the first bite, just felt the fish when I lifted the rod at the end of the trot! However, the size 16 Drennan widegape did it's job and I had the first grayling of the session in the net - not big, but the first one is always welcome. Bumped off a bigger fish, then had a couple more before I noticed several folks in identical, resplendent black and blue outfits pushing trollies, heavily laden with fishing tackle, across the meadow towards me. Turned out that the whole section had been booked out for a match and I was getting booted off - just as I had started building up a swim! Wasn't happy, but I suppose it was my own fault for not checking the club website. Went from bad to worse when I found out that they were pegged from the weir all the way downstream of Hatton bridge, with another section at Marston on Dove. Walked all the way back downstream to the car park fuming to myself and trying to formulate a plan.
Luckily I had the book for the club on the opposite bank, so two minutes in the car later I was off again. Was going to head all the way upstream of the weir and out of the way, but noticed a big gap between two of the far bank pegs that coincided with a nice, 3 feet deep run on the near side, so dropped in 75 metres above the chap downstream of me and 100 metres downstream of the chap above me.
Didn't stop the chap downstream shouting up to me, "Oi, there's a match on!", but as I politely pointed out, I was well out of his way, fishing a different bank belonging to a different club. What made it even sweeter was that, three trots later, the float disappeared and my strike hit into a solid lump. Turned out to be a fat, well-conditioned chub of 3lb 15oz, which had my friend twisting 'round on his seatbox.
Carried on trotting away, building up the swim with a few maggots each cast, and didn't have to wait that long before the grayling started making an appearance. First few were like peas in a pod, madly banging and twisting all the way to the net. However, eventually struck into one that felt a bit more weighty than bonkers - 1lb 5oz to be exact.
Added a few more, including another one over the pound mark at 1lb 4oz. Matey downstream had also caught a couple of fish by now, despite talking on his phone (probably about me!), losing at least one feeder and two float rigs to snags and all the time twisting 'round to watch what I was doing. Briefly stopped to talk to a chap walking along the bank, but when I started trotting again the fish had either switched off or had gone as I didn't get another sniff. Sat down and had a drink and snack bar before deciding that lunch was probably a good idea and called it a day. Finished with 14 grayling and that bonus chub, which after chatting to several, fishless matchmen on the way back to the car, was a pretty good result!