11/12/2018 - Birthday ritual

This morning I headed off into deepest Staffordshire for what is becoming a bit of a birthday ritual for me - a day's grayling fishing on a small tributary of the River Dove. River levels were fining down nicely to normal level after the rain at the weekend and, whilst I had to scrape a bit of ice off the windscreen, it promised to be a fine day with little in the way of wind. Set off to find that junction 25 of the M1 was rammed already, so did a quick detour around Derby and was at the venue just after first light. Headed across the fields towards the upstream limit with the usual mixture of eager anticipation and niggling worry that conditions somehow wouldn't be right. However, first sight of the river confirmed that it was running at an ideal level with just a tinge of colour evident in the deeper sections. Club work parties and the river itself had done some "re-modelling" in my absence, but the top pool was as I had left it several months ago. Was soon running a couple of maggots through the swim with the 'pin and third or fourth cast I had my first grayling of the day in the net. 

Very next cast I struck into something a lot more solid that thumped a couple of times before shooting off downstream, putting a nice bend in the Ultralite in the process. Managed to stop it and get some line back when the hook pulled out! I couldn't be sure what it was, but hoped it was a big brownie rather than one of the mythical 2lb grayling that I've yet to catch from this particular river. Continued to work the whole pool with the float taking a handful more grayling, including one bearing the obvious scar of a lucky encounter with an avian predator, before moving onto the next swim and starting again. 

However, despite the seemingly perfect conditions I found it slow going up until lunchtime, adding just a few more grayling and a single chub to the tally. Drew a head-scratching blank in several "banker" swims where I would have put money on fish being in residence and was just pestered by minnows in others. Had the added frustration of striking into another decent fish that felt like a brick bouncing on the rod top before the usually reliable Drennan widegape pulled out.

Fortunately, after a cup of coffee and a bite to eat, things started to pick up and I started to drop on some fish in numbers as I continued to work my way slowly downstream. The sun also came out, which was a mixed blessing as it meant I could shed my coat, but made tracking the float in some of the swims a bit tricky in the glare. Ensured that I left myself about an hour of daylight in my favourite pool towards the bottom of the section where I knew there was a chance of a few species other than just the grayling. Stayed there trotting away until it was literally too dark to see the float any more.

Finished with 45 grayling in a range of sizes up to 35 cm, three dace and a couple of chub. Was frustrated by the loss of two good fish, but it just adds to the mystery of this ever-changing little river and gives renewed hope that there's a two pounder in there with my name on it. That would be a rare and special fish indeed.


  1. Fantastic description of a day's fishing - the good, the bad and the ugly! I never mind losing a hard-fighting fish - providing I got to see what it was!!! Perhaps the only happening that can disturb the peace of a day's fishing! Hope to see you on the water soon. I'll be the one heading upstream with a 6' fly rod!