Sunday, 19 November 2017

Nature at it's Best

Travelling all but a mile from the house this morning I looked across into the field running parallel with the road and saw 5 herons all standing around in the field, and  running up the edge of the hedgerow was 2 Roe Deer,  coupled with the umpteen pheasants flying & walking across from the wood on the opposite side of the road, thats what I like about living in the countryside, you just never know what you're going to see on route to the river.

The morning was cold, bright & the river was low & clear, so I knew from the off it was going to be a tough day and the 3 cormorants lifting off the water as I approached didn't help any either.

The frost was still lying in places where the sun's rays still had not penetrated, making it crunch as you walked across it.

Walking down to the very bottom of the stretch didnt take too long and I was sat on the bank surveying the river in front of me and making my decisions on what to fish. A kingfisher flew up and sat on the end of a willow branch on the opposite side of the river, surveying his side of the river as I was, I moved my arm to see if I could get the camera out without disturbing him but he took to the wing heading upstream, I never tire of seeing these little beautiful birds on the river.

I slipped into the clear water and started casting across to a likely spot where fish might be sitting under some overhanging branches and almost immediately my first fish too the point fly.

Nothing of too much size but it was a Grayling, the first one for a couple of weeks with only trout coming to the net last trip out.

I fished upstream until I was almost halfway up the stretch and hadn't touched another fish so far, it was tough going but still very enjoyable with all sorts of things happening around me, the mallards were gathering on the opposite bank and still hadnt realized I was there as I was out of their sight due to the high bank but I knew as soon as I moved over the bank they would be on the wing immediately.

I noticed a broken branch which a couple of blue tits were feeding on and as I walked by seen they must have been pecking around in the algae that was covering it.

Nothing much was happening on the fish front, I had fished all the runs through hard, spending a bit more time making sure I covered every inch of them with only one other small Grayling taking my offerings.

I was surprised not to see any Salmon so far, as this time last year they were on their redds but this year I haven't seen any signs of them either on the riverbed or splashing around in the water, maybe they are waiting for some water to push through, before getting down to business.

I was approaching the runs up to the top of our stretch of river, I like this part of the river as its more suited to my tactics which I had chosen to fish and normally you can see a  fish or two smut to a hatch but as yet nothing was moving on the surface.

I seen another club member off in the distance walking down so decided to get into the run I was looking forward to fishing the most and see if I could fish it through before he reached me. 

I was almost at the end of the run when I heard him approach behind me and call out a greeting and almost on cue a fish took my dropper.

I knew this fish had a bit of clout to it as it made off downstream in the current before I could turn it, I definitely didn't want to loose the fish especially with all eyes on me, and after a short but powerful battle I slipped the net under this lovely Grayling.

The camera doesn't capture the true beauty of this fish, every way you moved it the emerald green colours down its flanks changed and it was simply stunning, virtually in mint condition apart from a small nick out the bottom of its tail, a lovely fish for this river as there isn't too many of this size caught from here. My fellow fisherman was also full of praise for such a beautiful fish.

After parting with a couple of spare flies of the same pattern I had took the large Grayling on my club colleague dropped in below me as he was only down for an hour so I decided to hang back and have a coffee and allow him time to get clear of me before I started fishing again.

About 20 minutes or so later I packed away the coffee and slipped back into the river.

Fishing down where he had been I picked off another Grayling from the faster water but nothing else until I had reached the bottom of the stretch again.

I wasnt going to thrash the water into a lather looking for fish and to be honest I was contented and chuffed at seeing such a beautiful fish earlier so after watching what I thought was a rising fish in the corner of my eye only to turn around and see a dipper appear from the river moments later I decided to call it a day and head back up the fields to the car.

My trip over for another week but a fish caught that would stay with me for quite some time to come.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017


When Im not fishing for Grayling, then Im reading & researching about them and a few months ago I seen a picture on the internet which I would love to have hanging in my tying room, a search turned up nothing on the artist till last week a friend posted a link to a site where a sea trout had been drawn so I had a look and low & behold I had found my Grayling artist.

Needless to say I bought a signed copy as they are a  limited edition of 100.

copy 34/100 will soon be hanging on the wall over my desk.

Anyone interested in pencil drawings then I can highly recommend Robin the artist, have a look at his work.....Robin Woolnough

Sunday, 12 November 2017


Like most military & ex military around the world, today was a day to remember fallen comrades and the sacrifices they have given.

Dusting off the beret & doing a bit medal cleaning I joined others in remembering.

An addition to the village Wreath laying this year is a small stone of remembrance with a cross for every soldier from the village who has paid the ultimate sacrifice.

With my duty done I headed out for an hour or so hoping to hook a Grayling or two, but the wind was severe & very cold, nevertheless I decided to give it a go and headed downstream of my normal haunt in search of some slightly deeper water as the river was low and crystal clear.

Fishing my way back up stream nothing was happening until I slipped my cast behind a large boulder and the reel creamed off instantly, I knew this wasnt a grayling for sure and after a short battle I slipped the net under a large & annoyed brown trout.


Giving him a second to recover before releasing him back to where he came from I grabbed a quick photograph, The water was freezing as I held his head upstream in the current and with a flick of his paddle like tail he was gone. 

Giving myself a second or two to warm my freezing fingers, I sneaked a photograph of a tree standing proud, holding onto the last of its leaves as all others around were now bare.

fishing upstream I managed to hook another two smaller brown trout which were released back to where they came & on arriving at the car that was it, 2 hours of hard fishing in a very cold wind made for an early lunch so I headed home to a large bowl of Lamb & Mint soup, just what the doctor ordered.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Going For a Wander.

Not the usual view from Up the Dale this week.

Instead this next picture should show where we were heading to.

The wife & I headed up to Scotland at the tail end of last week for a couple of days with family & friends and as always the fishing gear took up a little corner of the car which was filled out with Christmas presents and alike as this would be our last trip home this year.

I had arranged with a longtime friend Davy, to have sunday out on the river, so instead of the normal up the Dale, we went this time to one of the shires, there's only about 34 to choose from, but we both knew which one we would be heading to.

The morning started with me having to defrost the car as the temperatures had dropped like a stone overnight and the car was completely iced over, but before we knew it the miles were behind us and we were pulling up beside the river which looked in top notch condition.

Kitted up we headed downstream to our first stretch we wanted to fish and got started, on the 2nd cast through with the nymphs, my line stopped and I lifted, I knew instantly it was a decent fish  with the way it was behaving.

 A lovely Grayling and if this what was to come it was going to be a good day,  I was however very satisfied no matter what happened.

A few moments later my second fish of the day was hooked, smaller in size but by means no less beautiful.

Fishing downstream for a considerable way and it was now Davy's turn to hook into a fish, and this fish was most definitely not giving in easy, it was doing ever trick in the book to try & free itself, it was leaping out the water, taking long runs in the fast current, but finally it succumb to davy's efforts and the net was under his first fish of the day.

A lovely fish which would bring a smile to any Grayling anglers face...even Davy's!

We both fished hard up until lunchtime and never touched another fish so it was time to regroup back at the car and have get a bit of heat as the wind had been harsh and very cold and what better way to reminisce over the mornings fishing than a scotch pie in a roll and a cup of coffee, Heavenly.

We both decided to split after lunch and try our luck in separate areas, and it soon paid off for both of us with the two of us taking nice fish throughout the afternoon.

I had fished to the bottom of my stretch so decided to head back upstream in pursuit of Davy, taking in the surroundings as I went.

 The fungi  absorbing the last rays of sunlight of the afternoon.

And a sole acorn which as yet had eluded the clutches of the grey squirrels in the trees.

I soon stumbled back upon my fishing partner for the day, working the stream in front of him as the dappled light shone through the trees.

and continuing to catch a couple.

We continued to fish on until I looked upstream and saw Davy was merely a silhouette in the fading light.

So we had come to the end of our day and we both thoroughly enjoyed it, a couple of Grayling fanatics back on the river again enjoying each other's company and everything nature has to offer,  14 fish between the two of us on a cold day that when the wind blew it would split you in two, but very much a positive day and loads of fun, Until the next time a memory to reminisce on with a dram in my hand.

PS. I never managed to raid Davy's nymph box, it was tied up tight but he did make off with my packet of tippet rings! Good job I know where he lives....lol

Sunday, 29 October 2017

A fish For Every Week of the Year

A lot of water has flowed down the Dale since my last trip out at the start of October and here we are in the final few days of the month, The rivers have all been up and down like a yoyo, predominantly fishable during the week when we are all at work and totally in flood at the weekends. Definitely not a good month to start the Grayling season but I was hoping today would change that.

I was intending to head farther afield today but after I seen the forecast of a not too bad day, I decided to stay close to home and head up the Dale for a few hours hoping the hit the river at the right height which I enjoy the most. 

Last night I dug out my neoprene waders from the attic and decided to see what state they were in today as it's been some years since I last wore them but my knee has been giving me a lot of gip recently so I didn't fancy my lightweights even though I still wear thick insulated trousers below them.

After remembering a trick another old angler taught me of shoving a couple of thin plastic bags on my feet which makes it easier to slide my feet deep into the neoprene waders,  I was soon peering over the edge of the flood bank which runs the length of this part of the river and was met with a good height & colour to the river and the odd small fish rising to a hatch, that was mentally locked away for later on as I fancied a bit of nymphing to try out some new patterns I had been made up and a couple I had been sent by a good mate in Scotland.

It wasnt long until the first Grayling of the day took the point nymph.

Nothing big but the bread & butter size for this river.

As I fished my way downstream the Grayling kept coming to both nymphs I had on.

Normal run of the mill size and although nothing of any weight or size, excellent sport and kept me interested in the light touches on the nymph set up.

I was fishing one particular run when I looked up and a spotted woodpecker was sat on a branch high above me singing its heart out.

I was nearing a hole which I knew often contained slightly better Grayling and after a couple of casts through the line stopped and I lifted into a better stamp of Grayling.

It amazes me that the full length which has deep glides and runs contains all small fish and yet one or two spots tucked away always contain a better quality of fish, I have to say you have to work for them as they dont come easy like other rivers I know where large fish are always the norm.

The view back upstream which in the next couple of weeks will have salmon thrashing around doing their business as its almost closed season for them here and what I've heard from various sources has been a fruitful season on the river this year. with some large fish being caught on fly & lure.

The blackbirds were picking at the last remaining rosehips along the riverbank as the blue tits played in the trees above them.

And as I fished the tail end of the pool the line went tight again and I lifted into another slightly better fish., quickly followed by its mate.

I was now almost at the bottom of the stretch and time to turn around and head back the way I had come, I decided to sit and have a chill for 10 minutes and watch the geese in the field, well over 300 strong spread all along the full length of it.

Between watching the birds and everything else that was going on around me I seen a couple of small fish rising to a hatch which had appeared again so I sat and watched and more and more small fish were rising so I decided to strip down the nymphs and tackle up with a dry fly set up.

Going with my go to fly of a supa pupa I cast over the rising fish and almost immediately had a take.

No matter what anyone says, taking a Grayling on a dry fly gives me so much of a buzz, certainly beats trundling nymphs along a river bed all day thats for sure.

And they kept coming.

I seen an angler off in the distance coming towards me and recognised him as an old friend so went and spent sometime chatting & putting the world to rights before finally calling it a day and when he asked me how many I caught I simply said one for every week of the year, 52 fish in total, slightly more to the dry fly than the nymphs which made my day.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Storm Damage

With another storm hitting our shores for the 2nd weekend in a row, it was a no go for the fishing. The rivers have been up & down all week then just as they are starting to settle another storm trashes the country at the weekend, last weekend it was Ex hurricane Ophelia and this week its storm Brian.

Not a good start to my Grayling season but at least Im well prepared with the amount of flies I have managed to tie, the two nymph boxes are full.

Dropper Box hasn't looked so full and in such good order for a while, but I dont see it staying this way for too long, if I get fishing.

The sloe whisky production is into full swing with 4 kilner jars full of berries and whisky and tucked away in the cupboard for a few months, and I was so bored yesterday before the heavy rain came on that I went and picked another couple of pounds in weight of berries so they have all been cleaned and are now packed away in the freezer until required.

The Grayling Society had its AGM & Symposium over this weekend but unfortunately due to work colleagues having holidays booked & me having to cover I never got the opportunity to attend but they were in my thoughts. I had the pleasure of purchasing & reading Steve Skuce's  book Grayling Flies which kept me occupied for a few hours.

A long standing member of the Grayling Society Steve has filled a gap in my library about Grayling & fishing for them as there was no books solely concentrating on the fly patterns for Grayling, this hole has now been plugged thanks to this book and its well written and explains each fly in great detail as well as how to fish them and the tackle, a good book all round.

Im hoping the next blog entry is one about fishing but who knows what storm will roll in over the next week or so, fingers crossed the weather improves.
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