Sunday, 12 July 2015

After Dark with the Ladies

The weather forecast again this weekend wasn't great with thunder storms and heavy rain forecast for both evenings, and due to other commitments it was all I was going to get if I wanted some fishing. I decided to play it safe and head a short way up the Dale just in case the weather got more than I could handle, especially after last weekends lightning storms.
I headed out just before 6.30pm last night was on the bank around 7pm, the wind was gusting from the west and was warm, which was producing a good hatch down the length.

The river was still desperately low, although we have had a few good storms through the week the land has soaked most of the water up and nothing has reached the river, so faced with the river conditions that I had last weekend I opted to firstly search out the deeper runs with some spider patterns and observe to see if any fish were moving to the hatching insect life.

As I walked downstream the wild flowers had really came out in abundance since my last walk and the grasses seemed thicker in a week, having to watch where I step as I couldn't see the ground and didn't fancy twisting an ankle in the uneven ground.

   I noticed the various shades of what I now know to be campanulas (Canterbury bells)

I sat on the thick grass bank at the bottom of a deeper run to see if anything was moving to the insect life being blown onto the river by the wind but after 10 minutes of nothing stirring, I had made the correct choice in going to spider patterns straight away. I sat for a few moments and watched the array of birds that were feasting on the flies, the pair of yellow wagtails on the rocks at the rivers edge and the dipper hopping from stone to stone with a fly in its beak, then the blue flash as a kingfisher flew upstream, it was great to be sat amongst the tall grass observing the wildlife.

After almost two hours going by with no signs of any fish I moved downstream to the 2nd section of deeper glides and at the tail of the first cast I felt the pull on the spiders.

The large black spots giving it true identity away but a decent sized fish and a good fight in low clear conditions.

I decided to walk back up to the top of the section and fish it back through again to see if anything else would like what I was offering, if not then I would call it a night and head home. halfway down the run that I had started on the distinctive pull of a fish and I was into the 2nd fish of the evening.

Not the prettiest of fish, but seeing the amount of lice on it when it went into the net amazed me but with the conditions the way they were it didn't surprise me as Ive encountered this in the past in periods of very low water.

What really did surprise me was the size of fly stuck in its mouth after I had removed my spider pattern, somebody had to be kidding using flies as large as it was, best guess would be a size 8 and the line was probably no more than 1lbs breaking strength on the small amount I seen left on the hook eye. The fish amazed me that it was still able to feed with it in its mouth, On removing the fly the fish started bleeding so had to be dispatched. There really is some irresponsible anglers around when it comes to fly & tippet choice!

As it started to get dark I could hear tell tale signs of fish moving to insects on the surface, so I sat for a while and observed again and sure enough as the light began to fade fish were beginning to move freely to the insect life on the surface, they didn't seem to be big fish but it was uplifting to see signs of movement  so I switched over to a sedge pattern and headed up the short way to where I had seen the movement.

I watched one fish hard to the far bank sip the passing insect life from the surface so cast in its general direction and on the 4th or 5th pass it took the sedge pattern.

Again the large spots give away its true identity but fully finned and fighting fight it gave a good account of itself.

The battery light on my camera was indicating low battery after the flash went off so anymore fish picture taking was chance and see if I caught any.

The river was coming alive with the sounds of splashing fish in the darkness which made things more interesting and for the next hour or more I took small grayling after small grayling  and lost plenty small fish too but what a buzz to the senses as I cast into the darkness and then struck at any plashes coming from the direction of the fly, some I won, some I lost.

I managed 2 pictures before the lens retracted into the camera and wouldn't play any further part in the proceedings.

All the Grayling were around the same size and it was as if the Grayling had come out to play as every fish I connected with was a Grayling, I'm sure there were some trout around but it was the Grayling that were taking the fly.

It was just after midnight when I finally called it a night and made my way back across the fields to the car, 3 trout and 11 grayling better off than I had been a few hours earlier, the lack of fish moving until dusk then the action after dark had certainly turned it around for me and my senses were alive and the fun the grayling had provided certainly made it all worth while.

I also managed to put the finishing touches to a display float I made for a friend before going out onto the river.

The first display float Ive made in a while, made from Irish Yew and set on a Yew mount it, depicting a Trent Trotter float.


  1. A couple of really nice trout there

  2. Cheers James a hard but enjoyable night.

  3. Hello George,The plants are Campanulas ,commonly known as Canterbury Bells.Enjoy your blog,keep it up.
    Best wishes,

    1. Thanks John,
      I appreciate the advice, I'm trying to get to know the less known wild flowers we have so your advice is grateful. cheers

    2. It's a pleasure George ,you obviously enjoy your surroundings,I love fishing but some days it becomes almost incidental to what's going on around me.

  4. An interesting read once more, and fascinating to learn of the grayling feeding in darkness. I don't remember ever hooking one myself once the light has faded. I had them down as sight only feeders, and assumed that, therefore, they would not be taking flies in the dark. Well done.

    1. Cheers JZ, I've had Lots of grayling pre dawn or after sun has gone down both on fly & bait, some of my better grayling have come in darkness, myself and a friend once fished all day with minimal results but as it got dark then into the dark we bagged up.


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