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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


06/12/2022 - Success On A Bitterly Cold Day

4lb 8 ounce Chub

Today I was booked for a grayling guiding lesson by TFF member by Bill Wignall, conditions didn’t look good with a cold easterly wind blowing downstream with an odd shower, Bill collected me from home around 0930 hrs arriving at the car park around 1000 hrs,. In the cabin as Bill put together his T&T 9 foot 5 weight rod, I sorted out a fresh mug of coffee for him. Today was going to be a good test for my zero fit heat rub ultimate base layer clothing and socks, shirt and moleskin trousers with chest high waders, topped off by wading coat.

Our plan was to walk to the bottom of the beat then work our way upstream, as we were leaving a new member turned up so I had a conversation with Phil explaining some areas for him to try, also some nymphs to try. We then went our separate ways, on the long walk downstream, we spotted an egret, also a heron and two sightings of kingfishers, as usual we collected a lot of rubbish, it’s never ending.

Good Size Grayling

I suggested Bill fish a run over small pebbles and gravel with an odd big rock, most of the area was quite good wading, opening my fly box I chose a Richard Walker beaded mayfly nymph, tied on a size 12 hook by David Riding, tying it on a nine foot tapered leader with a 4 lb bs tippet. Checking the water temperature I got a reading of 40 degrees F down 4 degrees in the past two days. As we quietly waded I pointed out where Bill should cast, making sure he was searching all the available water, often grayling can be close into the bank in the quiet water, when it’s very cold, but other days under the same conditions they can be in the faster water a reason its so important to cover all the water.

Around half an hour of casting Bill got his first hook up, he said “I think I’m hooked on the bottom” then the fish moved off, I told him “Often when grayling gets hooked they will lay broadside in the flow with their big dorsal fin erect, it can feel like what you described” After a while he had a personal best grayling coming to hand, bending down he was able to release the hook, then watch the fish swim off strongly. I pointed out that grayling are a very fragile fish and should be released as quickly as possible, sadly I didn’t have my camera to take a picture.

Slowly we made our way upstream to the cabin for lunch, no other fish showed interest in the nymphs, with the downstream easterly wind roughing up the water surface, I didn’t expect to see signs of rising fish, so wasn’t surprised not to see any. I wanted to fish two other swim but couldn’t manage to get over the stile, I was even having problems walking properly it was more of a stumble, but eventually we got back.

In the cabin I prepared hot sausage rolls with mugs of tea along with a choice of biscuits, for Bill, while I had a bacon sandwich with my tea. An hour later we were back out in the cold. Once more covering several areas where I thought fish might be. It turned out to be a better session, another grayling also 2 out of season trout which gave some good action these triploids really are fit as they don’t spawn.

Action With Chub

As the light faded I suggested to Bill we try to catch a chub, he was all for this which didn’t surprise me as he never wants to leave the river. I selected a small quiet bay, then changed his tackle to a size 4 hook, with an LG shot three inches from the hook with a piece of crust, I fished a similar method except I used plasticine, as I was helping Bill I used a dough bobbin as an indicator. Fifteen minutes after fishing Bill had a take, by now it was really dark, after a good scrap, I netted a nice chub around 3 lbs, Bill was more than happy, as I was for him.

Bill then cast out another bit of crust, several minute or so later, my bobbin slowly crawled up to the butt ring, a real confident take, on the answering strike, the fish shot out into the main flow, savagely pulling the rod tip downwards, as line was pulled off the reel. Bill said “ That looks like a big fish” After some give and take, I eventually had the fish coming towards the net, that’s when the fun started as it was hard to see the fish in the water, twice it was in and out of the net, but eventually it was mine, “That looks a good four pounder” said Bill out with scales and weight bag, then we watched the needle go round getting a final reading of 4 lb 8 ounces. We fished on for a while to see if Bill could get another chub, it didn’t happen, but he did get a good trout, so ended our session, then a long walk back, as we approached the cabin, an owl took off into the darkness, so ended an interesting.


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Martin James Fishing
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