Perfect weather for the Grayling. After the obligatory de icing of the car I was soon making my way up the Dale through the heavy fog which had carpeted most of the upper Dale and in no time arrived at where I leave the car.
Silence apart from a far off dog barking, no sounds of the water rushing down the river, the ground hard with frost and no wind, a perfect morning all be it a cold one.
I started walking over the fields to where I was planning to start, as I went the crunching of the frosted grass & ice below my feet was the only sound with the puddles covered with a layer of ice over them.
As Daylight started to poke it head up on the horizon, everything was still very dark around me.
Normally when I arrive at the river I like to sit & have a coffee and watch the sunrise but this morning I wanted to put a new float through its paces again now that I was happy with it and it had been some weeks before I last trotted it down with some alterations made since then.
I tackled up with the aid of my head torch and cracked the mini starlight that was going into the tip, I grabbed the camera & took 2 shots of it, one without a flash, all you can see is the starlight with the reel handle just blocking out a small portion of it.
Using the head torch to guide me I eased into the water which I knew was safe footing and started to run down the float, It was quite surprising how far it shone before my eyes started to loose the dull green to the water & darkness,
I was about 20 minutes into fishing, the sky was only beginning to become light in the distance, no way of seeing a normal float tip this early in the day but the starlight dipped away, I struck & fish on.
The unmistakeable behaviour of a Grayling.
We were off the mark for the day. I picked up my net which had almost frozen solid in the position it had been put down on the bank
It was about another 20 minutes before I watched mother nature start her morning show.
I took this shot above thinking it couldn't get any better, when 5 minutes later the sky was a deep red all overhead to, such a beautiful sight to start a day.
The float slipped away soon after and Grayling number 2 was on......then off! At least they were there and I was getting bites with such a stunning background to admire, The air was cold and the rod rings were freezing as the line passed through them so I had to resort to a few old trotting tricks to keep the eyes ice free.
Not long after the float dipped way again, another Grayling.
Soon to be followed by an Out of Season Trout which was released in the water as it was milking. Potentially 4 fish I had caught when normally I would be sat on the bank awaiting daylight and watching the world go by, I know knew the fiddly work I had endured to get them right was worth the effort.
I continued on for another hour in the swim with nothing else to show for my efforts so moved on up the river stopping and fishing as I went.
Nothing more came to the net until I had almost got to the top of the beat and what was an optimistic start to the day was turning to be a bit of a walk only.
As I slipped into the trees another angler started to come through the trees from the opposite direction and a face I recognised well, an old friend, He was just starting out for the day with the fly rod and bugs and at that time was fish less.
After the greetings and some time chatting we walked up the river together to the big tree and sat and had a brew where we caught up with each other and what had been happening in our lives over the winter, a good hour passed & I ended up becoming a float and artificial bugs lighter, but it was great to catch up and if you cant pass on tackle to help out others then there is something wrong.
After some instruction on trotting and how to tackle up it was time to demonstrate everything which we had talked about as my friend has not trotted before, being an ex sea angler and more suited to boat fishing for Cod.
The time flew past and we meandered back downstream when we got to a stream and I crossed over & fished the bottom outlet as my friend covered the top, it didn't take long and the float dipped away again, another Grayling as I reached for my net it had got tangled up in my daysack so there I was stood in the river trying to get my daysack off with a good Grayling on the rod, one had to go and I lost, the Grayling went back to the deep.
The next 3 fish all from the same run did exactly the same....... long range releases, and the trout well, lets just say it was a kamikaze trout, after being hooked this trout flew out the water 5 or 6 times before landing on a rock close to the bank, bouncing and slipping back into the river, and leaving us in fits of laughter at its antics.
It wasn't long after another Grayling graced the net
My friend and I parted company him heading up the river and me heading downstream, I had moved to the next set of runs down when out the corner of my eye I had seen fish movement where I had just been so sat & watched, as another fish rose, so I went back upstream to the spot to hook a few small Grayling which were actually rising.
As I was about to leave my friend appeared again, he had lost the top section of his rod which he had dismantled as we had parted, a few minutes looking for it found it lying on my side of the stream just out the water, a lucky find and it was reunited with its owner and we parted company for the 2nd time.
I made my way downstream to a large pool where I had touched nothing earlier but on the first run down with the float the tip dipped away and the distinctive feel of a Grayling was felt.
I kept trotting the pool and before long another couple of smaller Grayling were in the net & I found that holding back was inducing bites so continued the tactic and was rewarded with another couple of better stamp fish.
I finally started making my way downstream to where I had started and as I went the Geese which are normally feeding in the bottom field were kept busy with a shoot a few fields away, they would hear the guns, take off and fly a circuit then as it quietened down again come back into land only to repeat the practise the next time the guns opened up.
The Grass was still frozen solid in places along the bank where water had been dripping down and the cold wind blowing up the Dale was definitely more noticeable and colder as the day wore on.
I arrived at the part of the river where I had started the day just as it was starting to turn dusk and within a few trots down the Grayling obliged me again.
It was time to switch back to the starlight as the float was becoming increasingly difficult to see in the dusk so back out into the run to see the float dip away again and a small brown trout obliged, which continued to happen for the next 20 minutes, Brown Trout one after another came to the net, It was almost pitch black by this time and although I wanted to stay for one last final cast, which turned out to be several dozen I didn't like the idea of constantly catching out of season Brown Trout so called it a day and walked back to the car a very happy angler indeed.
I saved one final picture to the end as I was asked recently by someone online how I get a Grayling to lift its fin for a picture as in most of the Grayling pictures being posted nowadays you see the angler with dirty big fingers holding the fish's fins up to display it.
My answer is treat them with a bit of gentleness and respect they deserve and they will reward you with pictures of their fin up naturally.