With a bit of a stunning early winter (?) day and an extra hour in bed, it was off to find some new water to pursue the Grayling on Sunday. The River Clyde is something like 70 miles long and when I really think about it my knowledge of the river would barely scratch the surface. 70 miles is a lot of water to explore and would take a lot of trips to do.  I resolved to go somewhere totally new to me, and with barely any wind it was a good day to explore ( some sections of the river are very exposed and are more or less unfishable in anything over a stiff breeze).

Geese in flight
The Wild Geese……

I picked up 5th placed angler in this years Carron Valley Masters, John and we headed off to pastures new. Having found a way down to the river the first thing that caught our attention were the Geese. Hundreds of them, maybe even thousands. There were loads of swans in the mix too.

Swan in flight
and wild Swans too

The noise was at times, deafening and it became a bit of a back drop to the day, not to mention other types of “drop” as they flew over in swarms.

The river here meanders through fairly flat farmland and floodplain. The bottom was for the most part fairly modestly sized gravel that made wading easy in so far as the bottom consistency was concerned however it did shelve off deep in places and was pushing along in places at first glance you would not have imagined. The water was gin clear though almost throughout the days fishing.

Sniff My Hand

We fished the faster sections as some places were very shallow- barely shin deep, and in the bright sunshine I think it is fair to say we struggled a bit, as fish seemed sparse. Was it we hadn’t found any decent holding spots or was it the bright sunshine putting them off? Who knows? We had covered a fair amount of water when I had a go just upstream of some deeper water John had found. Where I was, was pretty shallow but for a better depth and paced channel near the far bank. At first, at the head of this run I reckoned it was maybe a tad shallow but as I progressed down the run I encountered a spot that I thought was both a perfect depth and pace. No sooner had the thought entered my head than I was sure I felt a pluck at my flies. I gave it a second cast and right away a Grayling. Yes, just a wee one, one of this years brood no doubt, but it was a fish.

I wasn’t going to bother trying to fiddle with getting a phone out my pocket to take a picture while holding on to the wee thing in my other hand- it wasn’t exactly a size worth getting the net out for. When I told John I had caught, he demanded pictures of proof or it hadn’t happened. Alas I couldn’t comply though I did offer him a sniff at my hand as proof it had held a Grayling. For some reason he declined.

John stomps out the river
A bit cold, a bit wet and maybe just a bit despondent.

John had headed up the river a bit and I was having a cup of tea when he came back to where I was. He was feeling the cold having leaky waders and added to his discomfort by slipping on a log and gaining a wet arm for the privilege. However he was battling on like a trooper. I decided to explore further up still, and the bank was very hard to negotiate but I made it to a wide corner of the river which did not look promising until I caught sight of a fish rise. At first I thought maybe it was just bait fish in the shallows but then the river practically exploded with life- fish were rising right across, in 3’s, 4’s, 6’s and 7’s. I have never witnessed anything like this. And I was telling someone in correspondence just last week that though I have caught Grayling on dry flies down south even late in October I had never seen them rise at this time of year on the Clyde even on decent days.

Well, today confounded that claim. The fish were right in front of me and they rose and rose. What to was a mystery. Though without doubt some were just small fish, there were some good fish here too.

Rising Fish

I set up a dry fly rod and I think I went through every style of dry I could think of. My starter for ten was a very small Griffiths Gnat and I did rise two fish but neither took the fly. I had messaged John and he made his way to where I was and I think we spent the next hour or so throwing everything at them. The water was very flat, slow ( actually it was a back eddy though it wasn’t immediately obvious) and very, very deep so wading in wasn’t an option. The fish would stop and start but nothing we tried interested them, though they weren’t spooked by us either.

Sunset on the Clyde
Despite being cold and wet he wasn’t giving up a the sun disappeared, and fish continued to rise.

We gave up as the sun started to srop and tried again int he faster water and came across more rising fish in the flats as the sun set. Once again we tried a variety of flies and again small midges or Griffiths Gnat/Grayling Witches would rise them ( for me at least) but they just were not going to actually take. I was surprised how fussy they were as Grayling don’t to the bes tof my knowledge have a reputation for being picky when they are up on the fin like this ( and it has not been my experience in the past).

So another mile of the river explored and another area to log for future visits but precious few fish though we did find them!