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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


30/12/2020 - A Good Session With Grayling

Colin's Xmas present



I had a busy morning today, starting with clearing snow and ice from my foot path and the neighbours, then getting rid of the ice the from the bird drinking receptacles, please ensure the birds have a supply of drinking water in your garden. Then it was off to the shops as I didn’t want my wife to go out and mix with people, many who don’t wear a mask, I was quickly in and out of the shops, then down to the river to fill all my bird feeders. Back home after tea and toast I sat down to try and finish of my objections to the building of a huge chicken farm on the banks of the river Beult, they need the help of us anglers, please get in touch with Jon Goda <[email protected] who will give you more information, if this plan takes effect it will destroy the river and the surrounding area which is currently a triple SSI, we have recently seen the problems from chicken farms and waste on the River Wye.

Off To The River

Around 1400 hrs I decided it was time to go grayling fishing, condition were as likely as they could be, a falling clearing river, a water temperature of 38 degrees F bright sunshine blue sky and virtually no wind. Collecting a can of corn from the food cupboard, I was soon kitted out for a float fishing session, I pulled into the car park at 1430 hrs to find it empty, I had the choice of swims, soon I was walking across the snow covered fields, to the bottom of the beat where a stream flowed, also the bank below the stream had several hawthorn trees creating some cover for the fish. the water looked a dark colour as it flowed between the snow covered banks. As I got close to my swim I could see 5 roe deer among the bushes a few yards from the stream, in the hawthorns there must have been 60 plus Fieldfare feeding on the red berries, I also counted 10 Redwing just down from the Fieldfare also feeding on berries.

Even With The Extra Water I Chose to Float Fish

Today I chose to use my black coloured 3 piece Abbey 12 foot match rod, with a Richard Carter Classis Avon centre pin with 4lb bs line, to which I added a red tipped cork bodied float made by Graham Pinkerton from Scotland, he certainly knows how to make a good product, two days before Christmas I received a package containing three quill floats, two cork bodied floats, along with a fountain pen crafted from wood and fitted with a 24ct gold nib, a Christmas present from Colin Culley. The float I chose to use was designed to take 5 AAA shot with 1 BB on the hook link, I bunched the AAA shot together some two feet up from the hook, with the BB a few inches from the size 12 barbless hook. After running the float through the swim a few times I found an average of five feet of water, I set the float so the bait was about six inches off the bottom.

Next I catapulted three or four grains of corn well upstream repeating the process every couple of minutes for ten minutes or so, then rested the swim for another ten minutes. Baiting with a grain of corn I made my first cast, the float had travelled about thirty feet then dragged under, I though “Bottom, No it was a fish a small grayling, but most welcome”. Over the next half an hour I had eleven more grayling of similar size, then got bothered by trout, I really detest catching out of season fish so I would quickly bully them in to the net hoping they would get off, only two did so. I had seven of these fish probably averaging around 2lbs.

Some Prize Grayling

I then chose to have a brew, within minutes even on a very cold day the Jetboiler soon had the water boiling, as I sat enjoying the setting sun on my face as I sipped my hot tea, thinking how I could over come the trout, but I just had to put up with them. Tea break over I catapulted in three grains of corn, then baited the hook, on the first trot through I caught a small grayling similar in size to the other fish. In the next twenty minutes I had several more fish, then it happened on the next cast the float had gone some forty feet, I then held the float back, as I did so the float moved sideways “That’s a fish” I said as I lifted the rod gently setting the hook into what I though was another trout, after a while I had second thoughts, slowly I started to gain line, as I did so I realised this was no trout, but perhaps a good grayling, slowly I gained line when it was possible but no way was I going to bully this fish which was making full use of the fast water, not giving an inch, suddenly it kited in towards the bank, a fatal mistake by the fish, in the slower water I was now gaining some line, my only worry was the reeds and the odd branch in the water, if this fish was to get in the reeds all would be lost, I leaned out as far as I could over the water in the hope of trying to draw the fish away from the danger, slowly the pressure started to tell as the fish moved into the faster water. After a few more minutes I felt if I didn’t make a mistake the fish would be mine, a minute or so later I got my first glimpse of the fish as I spotted a waving dorsal fin, “That’s a good fish” I commented to myself, slowly inch by inch I gained line then the fish rolled on the surface, “That’s a 2lb fish” I said to myself, then it was in the net I heaved a sigh of relief, I quickly removed the hook, it was quickly in the weight bag taking the scale pointer round to 2 lb 7 ounces, shooting a quick picture, I then watched with great satisfaction as the fish moved swiftly out into the main stream. Its so important to get grayling more than other fish back into the water as quickly as possible.

As the light started to fade I managed to get four more good grayling a brace weighing 2 lb 5 ounces, 2 lb 4 ounces and 2lb 2 ounces, on my last cast of the day I hooked what I recon was a chub, after several minutes of the fish hugging the bottom I tried to bully the fish a bit more, my mistake suddenly it was gone, so ended a really good session with grayling.


The first grayling

2 lb 7 ounce grayling

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Martin James Fishing
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