Since my Annan outing a couple of weeks ago I have to confess things have been a wee bit hard. The aches and pains have really made themselves known and much as the mind wanted me out on the bank somewhere last weekend, the body was having none of it and I spent most of the weekend trying not to move watching YouTube and box sets on the telly. In the back of my mind I had the prospect of a very kind invite by Alan (Alby) Scott of Upper Avon Angling Association to join them on their annual River Nith Graying outing. I was determined to get there to the extent I stocked up on extra strong painkillers just in case! The Nith has been something of an unreachable quest for me. I think I have been lined up to head there on a couple of occasions in the past but haven’t made it due to weather blowing it out with high rainfall rendering it unfishable. On a map at least the Nith doesn’t look really any further than the Annan running parallel to it just a little to its west, but the drive home from the fishing last night made it feel like I was trying to get back from the moon….what a journey! However, the travails of my travels aren’t really of much interest on a fishing blog…so onwards to the fishing.
I met up with the UAAA guys at Abington Services and Introductions made we headed off in convoy across the Dalveen Pass to Nithsdale ( a stunning vista all on its own- must try to get time to photograph it sometime) and headed for our appointed beats. There were I think ten or eleven of us and we split into groups on each section then further into mostly pairs for the rest of the day though it was nothing formal- you could roam as free as you wanted. Myself Alby and Crawford- whose face I was “sure” I knew headed up-river. Alby knows the river and the beat quite well I think but he too was unfamiliar with the upstream grounds we were treading. The sun was just starting to make an appearance and made for some stunning views of the valley as it glowed from through the clouds. The day was very mild in contrast to what has been a bitterly cold week. Alby had been out on the same river the day before ( Grayling opening day) and said it was freezing, though they had some good sport.
I dropped my rucksack off on the bank and entered the water on a promising looking run with my three bug set up and in relatively shallow water that wasn’t more than knee deep near me and I had a fish on my second cast, though it was just a small Grayling on a pink shrimp. Still, blank averted already, I was in confident mood and hopeful I would get something a little more sporting. I fished this section really quite thoroughly and by the time I was around half way down I have to admit I was a little surprised not to have touched a fish. I had decided to give my set up, three patrols across the river and if nothing happened to make changes. After my first fly change, changing my red tag jig on point for an Olive Perdigone pattern.
Migratory Fish Fun
Crawford, just upstream of me at this point had just hooked into a fish and I noted had been playing it for what seemed like ages, his rod totally hooped over. I thought he must be getting near netting the fish and pulled out the phone to film the final moments of his epic scrap when it came off or broke him. It turned out it wasn’t a Grayling but he thought a spent salmon.
I started out from the bank again everything locked up and a fish was most definitely on! However, this too did not feel like a Grayling and I caught a flash of what I assumed was it’s underside and suspected I was into either a moderately large trout or possibly a salmon. It kept stopping and sitting hard on the bottom, though I think that actually what had happened was the fish had taken the top dropper and the two much heaver bugs were becoming ensnared on the bouldery bottom, though I was able to keep tension on the fish. After a period of what seemed like an age of no apparent motion, but was probably really just ten seconds I decided some real pressure needed to be applied to get this fish to move upstream of me and I applied it taking full advantage of the soft 3# weight rod and the fish was on the move again. Finally, I got a glimpse of it and yes it was a very respectable Grayling around the 2lb mark and by far the biggest I have netted in a couple of winter seasons, so I was well chuffed to get her into the net, it again had taken the pink shrimp pattern.
Once back in the water I had a second pull in very much the same spot but it didn’t hook up and the rest of my efforts to fish out this run went unrewarded.
Crawford ( as the morning went on I became further convinced I knew him!) had moved on by now and I was on my own. Alby had earlier went upstream further still and was by now I later learned, below me somewhere having located a pod of very cooperative and by now well fed Grayling… a not-so-sorry saga of a partially spilled box of maggots, occurring as he stooped to net a grayling from a deep run was to blame for this state of affairs but it wasn’t a loss, as I think three anglers landed over a dozen and a half fish in the fall-out of this unintentional “ground-baiting”! Some quality fish amongst them, so good angling by all.
I fished a deep fast corner but failed to contact any fish here and lost a couple of very heavy bugs in the process but felt it worth a go nonetheless, before joining the others and then retiring for a spot of lunch and a rest by the fishing hut. With something warm inside me and having enjoyed the exchange of fishy tales as the group of us ate, myself Alby and Crawford headed off downstream. Crawford, I think by now had had two or maybe even three salmon and also a few trout not sure about his Grayling score, and it was here I mentioned I was sure he was familiar to me. It transpired he was one of the lads who joined us on the Upstream Nymph fB group open day on the Carron back in the summer. He said he realised who I was when I donned my red and black Daiwa hat! Small world.
Crawford pointed out some water he had bounced off a few grayling but they weren’t staying on and I decided to fish this through pretty thoroughly, again adopting my three patrols and change tactic, to ensure I wasn’t becoming fixated and was ringing the changes in case it made a difference. However having covered this entire stretch from bank to bank and offered probably 9 different patterns and even tried some tactical changes I only go for rarely, I was still not getting results.
Alby had fished a pool downstream where he had pulled out some “pigs with fins” the day before and had nothing this time though got a few fingerlings just below me in the next section down below a break. He pointed out the pool from the day before and I wandered down there and Alby joined me on the way down. The light was starting to fade surprisingly quickly now so I pressed on taking note of the guidance Alby offered as to the depth of the pool in front of us.
After a few casts, on my by now, two bug set up, I saw the line stop and I pulled out a nice 12″ Grayling, on an orange hotpot black PTN. Almost next cast I had a second though smaller fish on the same fly in the same spot. I continued to fish down and the water got deeper and deeper and light was fading fast. I was glad to have my Plana Indicator wax with me as it allowed me to make some adjustments to my leader so I could see it more clearly in the gloom. This is great stuff to have in your pocket and really helped. I also tied on really heavy Perdigone pattern to get right down on what appeared to be pretty deep water in front of me and it wasn’t a wasted change as on what was to be my very last cast, I contacted and landed a final and fifth Grayling of the outing again of around 12-14″ , again onthe orange hotspot and a fine end to a most enjoyable day. I suspect that persevering in this pool might have resulted in a few more fish but we needed to get over the river to reach the cars and with light fading, it seemed wise to make a move.
A fun day, in great company and I am glad I made the effort despite my physical condition, memories don’t make themselves. I think everyone had Grayling by the end of the day and there were some really nice fish netted. My visit to this river has been a long time coming.
Thanks again to Alan and the UAAA guys for having me along, was nice to meet you all.