Sunday, 26 October 2014

Swimming Squirrels & Old Friends

With the high winds and rain forecast I knew it was going to be a difficult day especially up the Dale where the winds and rain are coming off the tops of the Pennines, but needs must and whilst the river is thinning down a bit I thought at the very least I'd get a few hours in after the Grayling.

The river was lower than the last two trips out but the colour was still very dark with plenty of leaf matter coming downstream. I was fishing for around 20 minute when the cattle I had passed through in the surrounding field on the way to the river started to approach the river bank and there just in front was a grey squirrel and what happened next had me dumbfounded that I had seen it........

The squirrel obviously startled by the cattle moved down to the rivers edge put its front paws in then followed with the rest of its body with its bushy tail spread straight out behind it and it started to paddle the river using the current to move it across, it completely swam the full breadth of the river in front of me, climbed up the bank and disappeared up the side of an overhanging elder. The camera was still in my bag as I had only just started fishing, I so wish I had got a picture of this as in all my years of fishing and being on the riverbank I have never seen a squirrel swimming, everyday is a school day.

After that I settled back in to chasing the Grayling and it didn't take too long to have my first fish in the net, I wasn't quite sure if it was one of the many oak, beech & chestnut leaves that was coming down the river as I had hooked up plenty since I had started but when the indicator showed it to go upstream I knew it had to be a take and struck, nothing big but very welcome in the current conditions.

I continued to fish on in the same runs and had a few small par before finally calling it a day and moving upstream. Thankfully the water was a bit lower on this visit than on the other two and I was able to get across to a run I love to fish down the side of some faster moving water and it normally provided a fish or two and sure enough 2nd run through the line went taught and fish on, trying to hold the Grayling in the fast water with her fin up was not easy and she soon slipped the hook and sank back into the depths.

After sometime I moved up stream after nothing else from the swim and got myself  into the slightly slower streamy riffles & I was soon into my next Grayling, which turned out to be an old friend.

As soon as I seen this fish I knew I had caught it previously and thinking back it was this area last Monday that I had caught her, clearly identifiable by her deformed mouth and sure enough when I compared the pictures on getting home it is definitely the same fish as the black spots pattern along her side confirm it is the same fish. Obviously no worse the wear for me catching her last week.

And like all the Grayling back they go to give sport another day.

I stayed on in the run for a while after having a coffee & resting the run and within 5 or 6 minutes of getting back in had my next fish on.

Around the same size as the last, a reasonable hard fighting Grayling who when hooked even gave an acrobatic jump before getting netted.

A couple of pictures of the fish going back and sitting in the river before she swam away quite healthily.

The wind was driving the rain sidewards across the river and in places white caps were forming so it was time to find some shelter and have a break and see if the weather improved, so finding my stone wall I sheltered behind in the past I sat down for a coffee and something to eat. It was then I spied another angler further up the river making his way downstream and by the looks of him fly fishing for Salmon.

On pouring the coffee  I noticed a small rather bedraggled mushroom stuck amongst the debris of seeds and leafs.

It was about 30 minutes before the Salmon angler got to where I was sitting and we exchanged greetings and he too adopted the sheltered position behind the wall. He has seen a couple of Salmon moving but hadn't touched a thing and suggested we were both mad for being out on the river in this weather & I had to agree, but I did have fish & on the fly which he was was clearly pleased about.

We sat talking for almost an hour before I decided I was going to head back out, the wind had died slightly but the rain was still coming down, My salmon angler friend was sacking it and he stayed behind the wall to break down his kit before heading back through the fields to his car.

I tried back in the same spot where the previous two fish came from and sure enough soon after had another Grayling in the net, the small run was producing the goods amongst all the leaves that were moving downstream and being rather annoying.

Like before I decided to give it a rest for 5 minutes and almost immediately again on casting back in connected with another Grayling out the swim.

Four Grayling from a small run around 3ft deep and lucky if it was 20m long, but I wasn't complaining as it was the most productive all day.

 It was pointless going any further up the river so decided to head back the way I had came fishing down through the riffles and connecting with a couple of small Par on route.

The wind had picked up strength again and  I was tethering on calling it a day but the fisherman instinct of one last cast kicked in and to be honest I'm glad it did, as almost immediately after turning up in the spot where I watched the swimming squirrel earlier in the day I connected with a nice Grayling who gave me a right merry dance before coming to the net.

That was it I was almost ready to cut the tippet but thought five more minutes wont hurt, so waded back in again and like the last fish almost immediately it took the dropper as it was drifting down, and I would say my best fish of the day, a chunky Grayling, a nice way to finish the day on a high.

slightly spoiled by a smudge on the camera lens, which I never noticed till I got home but what a memorable and educational day, one I wont forget in a while......swimming squirrels who would have thought!


  1. Amazing what you see on the river bank George, was it a grey or a red squirrel? Good to see you got a few grayling for braving the wind and rain.

  2. Thanks Brian, it was a grey, not seen any reds in that Dale for over a year now.


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