02/12/2022 - Grayling therapy, but with a twist
Couldn't ignore the prospect of another dry day without any wind and with a pint of maggots already waiting in the fridge I booked the morning off work and headed to the River Derwent with the long rod hoping for the first few grayling of the winter.
There was a car already in the carpark when I arrived and as I got togged up in my chesties I was surprised to see my fellow angler coming back over the footbridge. Turned out he'd just forgotten something, but from his albeit "traditional" gear - canvas bag, split cane rod and matching landing net - it was clear that he was also after the grayling. Had a very informative chat before going our separate ways - him downstream and me upstream - having agreed to compare notes if we saw each other later. It was 4 degrees Centigrade and another overast day when I arrived, but thankfully the gloom had lifted slightly by the time I reached my first spot. Nobody had fished the peg since the floods had receded and I slid down the muddy, wet bank more than stepped into the river.
Water clarity was also pretty good, although I'd asked at the tackle shop for a few orange and yellow fluoro maggots to be included in my mix just in case and picked these out for my hook baits. Started off with a single grub on a size 16 Drennan widegape, running it downsteam under the Avon as far as my eyes would let me. After a few trots, each accompanied by a few freebies, the float buried and I felt the familiar mad gyrations of a modest grayling on the end of the line. Carried on catching at regular intervals, the fish apparently spread out rather than bunched up in one place and ranging in size from a fingerling to just over a pound. They were obviously feeding well, coughing up maggots in the net and properly nailed by the widegape, although it never ceases to amaze me watching the lengths that grayling go to shed the hook, sometimes more successfully than I'd like. Got into a nice rythmn, disturbed only by the occasional test explosion from the cracker factory on the opposite bank.
Before I knew it two hours had gone past and I'd had 19 grayling grace the net. Bites had slowed by now so I gave myself a couple more casts before upping sticks and moving downstream, disturbing a few redwings in the hawthorn bushes as I went. With just the morning off I wanted to try at least one more swim, so dropped in upstream of the pipe bridge where the sun finally made a welcome appearance for the first time. It had stayed cold all morning and I'd had to put the gloves on to keep my fingers warm. Started getting fast, jabbing bites straight away and missed several before I hooked one of the culprits, a small dace. Seemed to be quite a few in the swim as I added half a dozen more, along with three more grayling. My fellow angler appeared behind me at this stage and reported that he'd had fifteen grayling to over a pound.
He'd also lost a large chub that he'd managed to coax thirty yards upstream before the hook pulled out. Gave it a couple more casts after he'd departed, but I really was pushing it with the time so packed up, pretty happy with a few hours work. However, the twist was yet to come. The wife had been in locked in isolation in the spare room all week with the dreaded COVID after finally bringing it home from work (neither of us had sucumbed to it until now). During the morning I'd started to feel increasingly ropey with what felt like the onset of a cold. First thing I did when I got throught the door was to take a test and yes - I was positive! The two of us are now isolating away from the rest of the household, although I suppose there are worse things than being waited on by the kids!