08/02/2023 - Grayling from The Grove

I've felt pretty lucky ever since grayling started appearing in the lower Derwent and who wouldn't if they had the best looking fish in the river just fifteen minutes from their door? However, I came across a piece of information recently that potentially brought them even closer to home. During a chance conversation in the tackle shop one of the staff members mentioned that grayling were being caught in the River Trent downstream of Beeston weir. As it had clearly piqued my interest I was beckoned around the counter and shown a picture of a netful of grayling caught in January of this year and although it was difficult to say how big they were they all looked like young, mint fish. Now Beeston weir is less than two miles as the crow flies from my house, so this definitely needed following up. Back home I got the laptop out and started Googling. 

Unfortunately day tickets weren't available on the Beeston bank and I didn't fancy buying a club book at full price potentially just for a couple of sessions. Switching my attention to the Clifton bank it was a similar story for the section immediately downstream of the weir. However, a little further downstream I found a short day ticket stretch on Clifton Grove costing just £4  a day. Better still, you could buy tickets online and in advance, so duly parted with my cash. Next morning I had a leisurely breakfast and waited for the sun to come up and warm things up a bit, although I still had to scrape the car windows, before heading off towards Nottingham and then over Clifton Bridge. Upon arrival at the car park I got togged up in the neoprenes and made my way down the steep track to the river. 

Had to walk a fair way downstream to the head of the day ticket section and had a bit of a sweat on by the time I got there. At first glance the river looked in good nick, albeit more at summer level than winter, and the steep wooded bank behind me hid the fact I was within spititng distance of a housing estate and a busy university campus. I'd also noted several cormorants, goosanders and a single male goldeneye along the section, which I took to be a good sign (although not if you were a fish!). 

Opting to travel light I'd only brought the float rod with me but was begining to wonder whether this was a wise decision as the margins were very silty and with the remains of reed beds close in that made it difficult to wade out safely. Eventually I came across a swim where the flow pushed closer to the bank and a poke around with the end of the landing net handle confirmed a nice firm, gravelly bottom (ooer!) with about 5 feet off the rod top. Had run the float through half a dozen times before it disappeared and I connected with a small fish. Looked like a small dace as I swug it in, but in the hand it materialised into a perfect, little grayling - one of the smallest I've ever caught but as my first Trent grayling it was mission accomplished! 

Bumped the next one but then added several more better, pristine specimens over the next hour before the swim died. Had a wander further downstream and found what looked to be a couple of perfect looking spots, but after half an hour in each I failed to attract a single bite.

Therefore headed back to where I had started hoping that I'd given the swim enough of a rest and managed two more, quick fish before it died once more. Had run out of time again anyway, so made the slog back along the river and up the hill. Had done my 10,000 steps for the day when I got to the car and was feeling pretty knackered, but very satisfied. Whilst I won't be giving up my Dove and Derwent tickets just yet, it was brilliant to confirm that grayling are present even closer to my door and apparently doing well, presumably also having colonised the seven miles or so of river from the Derwent confluence. Definitely worth a return trip!