31/12/2019 - Last gasp of 2019
Took time off between Christmas and New Year, not only to recover a bit from the seasonal excess, but also to delay the inevitability of having to go back to work! Goes without saying that a fishing trip was to be factored in at some point so, after checking the weather forecast and river levels, I headed out this morning to the River Derwent, stopping off on the way to pick up the usual "pint of mixed" from Bridge Tackle in Long Eaton.
Got to the carpark just as the sun was creeping over the horizon and made my way to the river over the fields, which just a few days ago had been completely submerged. Just some pockets of standing water in the furrows and depressions remained of the floods that had caused chaos in Derbyshire a few weeks earlier. In that context, it was possibly trivial that my concern this morning was whether the grayling I'd successfully sought out last season had weathered the storm and were still present.
At first glance the river looked a bit higher and faster than when I had fished it previously, but it was running clear and I was confident that I could find some quieter water with hopefully some fish in residence. Headed up to the top swim, a long, tree-lined and sheltered glide. Found that the river was indeed still about 30 centimetres higher then normal winter level. However, I managed to get in at the side in my chesties, which allowed me to run a stick float downstream past the overhanging vegetation on the near bank. Third trot down the orange tip of the float disappeared and my first grayling of the day was soon in the net - not a monster, but good to see.
A few casts later and I was reminded how nerve-racking and frustrating grayling fishing can be as I lost two, very good fish in consecutive casts to hook pulls. Both fish shot out into the middle of the river and then hung there like a dead weight, just giving an occasional head shake that usually signifies a big grayling. In this situation, unless they decide to swim upstream, it is a question of trying to ease them up slowly against the force of the current whilst praying that the hook holds. Unfortunately, my usually reliable size 16 Drennan widegape wasn't up to the task and was soon swapped for a Kamasan Animal instead. Managed to successfully landed a much smaller fish before it went quiet and it was time to move swims. Further downstream I again found some steady-paced water down the near bank. First trot down my double maggot was taken by a nice fish that had been nailed by the Kamasan.
Had a smaller fish and then hooked another nice fish that just came in like a sack of potatoes. A closer look reveled that it was actually the fish I'd had a few casts earlier. It must have gone straight back to it's lie and carried on feeding, but obviously didn't have the energy to put up another fight! Again, after it went quiet, I headed down to my final swim where I had a couple more fish, including the best one of the day. Ended up with a round dozen, not including that recapture, which I was pretty pleased with, although I'll be back after those lost "monsters".