Late winner

First outing of the “Grayling season” how could I resist? I was trudging through possibly the most monotonous job in telecoms late on Thursday when I heard the weather forecast for Friday. It hadn’t rained for a day or so and the river levels app was suggesting the Clyde was at a good height. A matter of minutes later a day off was booked and as soon as work was done I was getting my river gear together ready for the morning.

  • Grayling escapee

    A reluctance to pose. First fish of the day and the biggest I bought to the net was off before the shutter closed!

    Grayling number 2

    Number 2- I wasn’t taking it from the net to photograph lest no one beleive me I caught it!

    Before I could go fishing I needed to get a permit. The 18-month ticket UCAPA are doing just now is very good value at £55 so I first headed for an outlet to get one. Then it was straight down the river on what was a truly stunning morning. I was set up with a yellow Hanak French leader and in the conditions, it was a perfect choice as it was highly visible in the morning light. I have persevered this year with the Sunray Nymph line but frankly I dont see the attraction. I think I far prefer the French Leader. Two bugs were my bait, a red tag on point and a green tag on the dropper. I usually fish three bugs but opted for the simpler two fly set up for now. The water was slightly dirty though not overly so and it was a wee bit higher than I anticipated. I believe in not walking where I haven’t first fished and though the water nearby was no more than knee deep, second cast I felt a fish. However, in such shallow water, one of the bugs evidently snagged on something and the fish was off before I really contacted with it. It was likely just a tiddler – a “chip fish” and frankly, I have no idea if it was a Grayling or a trout. On my second patrol out from the bank I did though contact the first Grayling of my season and as I got it to the net a think I forgot quite how wiry these fish are. It was full of energy and try as I might I could not get it to hold still for the “hero shot”. As I finally seemed to, it shot out my hand back into the river! Still a good start and the best Grayling I have had in over a year, at around a pound . Less than five minutes later number two was in the bag a wee bit smaller than the first but I did manage a photo this time.

    A few more sweeps and I had a good knock but the fish never stuck. I examined my hooks and thought I detected the hook on my green tag might be slightly agape…. Or was it? A few minutes more another fish on and as I got it in line with me I could see it was on the green tag again, then it came off. I checked it again… Yeah, that hook is definitely slightly out if shape, probably it happened on a snag. I lost one or two bugs on the way down and had an interesting experience with a pseudo salmon. As I fished down the bugs stopped dead, dipping under. A fish? No, it was a snag, I tried to release it, as you do then it moved, I was quickly spooling out line and it was heading downstream at a rate of knots. I started to think I had hooked a salmon though there was no sensation of animation coming up the line. I had to act and started to move back towards the bank as the “fish” swang round below me about 15 metres away now. Then it surfaced. A huge lump of tree. Somehow I managed to gingerly manoeuvre it to near the bank without breaking off or losing a bug before reaching it and unhooking the mess. It was a fair chunk of branch and bush and my 3lb Stroft held it fine.

  • As I worked my way down things seemed to quieten down and it wasn’t until I was repositioning in near the bank to start another sweep that I detected a fish as the flies trailed downstream of me. A fluked fish would still be welcome and though I saw it, never had a good hook up and it came off directly below me before I could get control of it.

    Hot stuff

    I think I will be bringing the wee stove out more often in future.

    I had brought a wee gas camping stove with me, emulating what Glenn was doing out in Islay and I enjoyed something hot on the bank in the midday sun before trying my luck in slower water further downstream and though I might have had one wee knock, no fish here. The water was deeper here though so I extended my tippet to a third fly and on top dropper now I had a small CDC olive spider as there were quite a few small (pale wateries?) flies coming off warmed by the sun. So far the river was 3-2 up.

    Time for a move, I went back to the car and headed a few miles downstream.

    My first pick of location to fish was occupied, and so with my gear already set up, I trudged off further downstream. The second choice too, had three anglers in. I could see the one nearest to me was fishing for Salmon so would likely move off before long. The two further away I couldn’t tell. Back to a midpoint swim, I tried a few casts in what transpired to be very fast turbulent water and it wasn’t much fun. Then the two lower anglers passed by, heading away, with their spinning gear. Salmon angers too it seemed. I decided to move down, they might have done me a favour…whats the saying Salmon anglers walk on the water, Grayling anglers walk in the water? I reckoned all that salmon angling shuffling might have benefited the ladies of the stream.

    I entered a wee bit above the sole salmon fisher and started prospecting. Within a few casts, I had a small chip fish Grayling. Small but welcome and an equaliser. I then had a run of rotten luck. Hooking into three decent Grayling and failing to net any of them. The water here was fairly brisk beyond the middle of the river so the fish were exerting a fair pull as they kited round on their dorsal fins.The first loss I felt was probably my own fault, I gave it no line and tried to swing it around below me out of the current, and I suspect I pulled the hook from its soft mouth. The next I learned my lesson and let it take a few feet of line on the drag while I tried to get it in slower water. It was only a few feet from the rod tip and nearly level with me when just like that it was off again.

    A grayling from tehj Clyde

    Always a Lady

    The third had me almost inconsolable. This was a big fish. A fair thump then I saw it roll on the surface. It surfaced so fast I reckon it had to have taken the spider as at this point I really was doing nothing more than holding it on a tight line, I wasn’t pulling and the fish could have taken line easily. I then adjusted the drag keeping the rod out to the side and as it took 3-4 metres of line felt it was coming round nicely, letting the rod take the strain when it all went slack again. Gutted. I was close to just calling it a day but then my luck changed. 3-6 the river leads.

    Clyde Grayling

    Is there a bonnier fish than the Grayling?

    I was by now nearing the bottom of the glide and I took two nice Grayling in rapid succession. I retired to the bank as evening light began to fall on the river. Off with the spider on with a small caddis nymph pattern, the trusty red and green tags I reversed and changed bead colours but fundamentally kept the same patterns. Back half way up the glide I decided to run through again and immediately my change of tactics paid off with another Grayling. The equaliser 6-6. Then as I neared the end of the glide once more the late winner. Small but they all count!

    I was done. My shoulders ached though I maintain that the arthritis in my feet thanks me for the relief of standing in a cool river- I am so much less aware of them in waders and cold water it is bliss. A thoroughly enjoyable day on the river. I ended my day having an interesting chat with a chap who was trotting for Grayling and regaling me with many stories of the river and its politics, which no doubt you could fill several blog posts on!