09/02/2017 - A largesse of "ladies"!
I can't seem to get enough of grayling at the moment. The pursuit of pike and zander hasn't grabbed me yet, particularly as the weather and river levels have been all over the place. Also, more often that not, the tributaries have been fishable when the main rivers haven't been and I've been in a position to profit. Take today, which I'd booked off as flexi-time last week with a view to keeping an eye on conditions. As it happened, this coincided with my favourite tributary of the River Dove fining down to perfect level.
The weather forecast wasn't quite as kind, with a Easterly wind and temperatures near freezing. However, I put the thermals on, loaded the gear and racked up the heating in the car. Arrived 30 minutes later feeling nice and toasty and quickly got the neoprenes, fleece and coat on. Was soon trudging across the still-waterlogged fields through the gloom to the upper limit of the club section.
Had a cup of coffee and got some feeling back in my fingers before moving on downstream, dropping in on the usual spots and trying some new ones. Picked up fish in ones and twos, including a nice male, before I got to the swim where I'd lost a big fish last trip. Gave this a good going over but just had a couple of small ones. Had to stop and clean the Speedia at this stage as it started to sound like a bag of spanners and started catching. I put this down to the maggot dust, which was sticking to my wet gloves every time I dipped into my bait pouch and was then being transferred to the reel. Note to self - no maggot dust next time! Whilst I was beginning to feel the cold, it didn't seem to put off the wildlife as there was plenty to see as I was trotting away, including a noisy bunch of long-tailed tits, wrens, a treecreeper, a robin that came and mopped up some stray maggots, and a couple of buzzards. The wild garlic had also just started to push up through the leaf litter and there was even a random clump of snowdrops.
Was just thinking how it would be nice to see the sun when it started snowing - well, more like dandruff falling from the sky, but still snow! Carried on downstream trying more spots, some giving up a fish or two, others not. Came across a pod of fish in the "dead calf swim (although the dead calf is now gone, removed by the floods), so lingered there for a bit and was eventually rewarded by what felt like a much better fish. Unfortunately, after thinking I had the better of it, it made a dive for the near bank, everything went solid and I found myself attached to a branch instead of a fish! "Oh well", or words to that effect. Made up for it partly by taking several fish out of a fast, knee-deep run that I'd not tried before, again by shallowing up and holding the float back hard. I always find it amazing how hard grayling fight given a bit flow to help them, so I'm not surprised or disappointed to lose a few to hook pulls in those situations, as was the case today.
Time was getting on for four o'clock by now and I'd had well over fifty grayling. Came to a longer, deeper section where it was possible to do some longer trotting, so decided to stay there for the last hour. Whilst I'd had the odd chub and dace from the swim in the past, it was just yet more grayling until the float dipped right at the bottom of the trot and a nice fat dace came to hand.
Had two more of his pigeon-chested mates before it was back to the grayling. Packed up just after 5 o'clock when it was too dark to see the float properly. Finished with sixty-one "ladies" and the three last-gasp dace. Certainly worth dragging myself out on a cold, grey day in Staffordshire.