Chasing the ladies in Derbyshire (grayling article and video, entry 282)

Chasing the ladies in Derbyshire

If you’re a regular visitor to my Angling Journal, you will be more than aware that the site is updated on a weekly basis – every Saturday in fact. And no doubt you will also be aware that this particular article comes with a two-week gap instead of the usual seven days. The reason for the site missing its first update in its five-plus year history was down to the fact that I’ve been ill. And when I say ill, I’m not talking man-flu, but the real thing. For a whole week I never left the house and did nothing but lie there, either in bed at night or on the sofa during the day. I lost 11lb during the week so it shows just how ill I really was. The only thing I did that was fishing-related was to watch the angling programmes on television.

Cold weather dictates the species

But just before I was ill I managed a day out on the River Dove, so in effect the lack of Journal entry was down more to being too wrecked to write as opposed to nothing to report. But better late than never and so this article is running a week behind, although if you read magazines and even newspapers, due to printing and editorial deadlines, what your eyes scan will be often be more than seven days old.

As this week’s headline suggests, I had decided to target grayling and so it was nothing to do with flirting in Fernydale or gallivanting near Gamesley. The grayling is affectionately known as the ‘Lady of the stream’ by anglers, although not all fishermen are enamoured by its presence in their river. There are those in the fly fishing fraternity who frown on its very existence and indeed those who will actively pursue its persecution. As always, I don’t want to be controversial, but I have as much respect for those anglers who knock a grayling on the head and throw it up the bank as I do for those who go pike fishing and sling the fish into the bushes. Both pike and grayling are both examples of beautifully formed fish and deserve to be treated accordingly by anglers.


A nice grayling from the Dove

No more Double Strength for me

Although I have respect for the grayling, that doesn’t mean to say that I always fish for it with traditional tackle. In fact quite the opposite and I set up with not only a quiver tip rod, but also threaded a small cage feeder on the line. I was on a wide bend – well, relatively speaking for the size of the river – and cast out to the point where the main thrust of the river met a quieter reverse flow. It looked a natural larder and that proved to be the case as it contained a healthy number of hungry fish.

My line was Drennan Double Strength 3lb 6oz with a size 16 Drennan Super Specialist hook. And before anyone thinks I am giving Drennan products a plug, let me add that I won’t be replacing the line with more once it has gone. I have used Double Strength for some year in 10lb and 15lb breaking strain. It’s actually my mono hook length of choice when after barbel, tench and bream. This is the first time I’ve spooled up with anything below that though and will be the last. The line kept going ‘springy’ and was a bit of a problem at times.

A hungry grayling gets hooked twice






Tip of the week

If you are within a reasonable travelling distance to grayling waters then make it a ‘One thing I must do before I die’

And who knows, you may well end up as an enthusiast. The potential to grab someone in that way is certainly within the remit of the grayling’s ability.

All fish are greedy when they are hungry and I encountered one such grayling. Early on in the session I lost a fish due to the line breaking. It wasn’t a big fish and I put it down to maybe the line had caught on something on the river bed. It was just one of those things and I never thought about it again – until I caught a fish later on that had the hook and a few inches of line still in its lip. As I don’t use a keepnet I wonder how many fish get caught again during the day?

Apart from the grayling I also had a small brown trout. I knew it was something different as soon as I struck into the fish. It wasn’t big, as the photograph indicates, but it’s always nice to catch a wild brownie and its presence in the river indicates purity. Although we think of them as primarily fish that are caught in the upper stretches of rivers, they are more widespread than we actually realise and the angler who fishes exclusively with worm or maggot will no doubt encounter them on a fairly regular basis on many places that aren’t considered game venues. My personal best brown trout was caught from a very small Radnorshire spring-fed pond some years back and was a totally wild and natural fish of 3lb 8oz.



A wild brown trout

Testing the potential over the winter

I ended the session with a lot of grayling, a couple of the fish going over the 1lb mark. As far as I’m concerned any fish above that weight is definitely worth catching, although it would be nice to move into the next weight bracket of course. Hopefully I will spend some more time on the River Dove over the winter, and particularly if it’s grayling weather, who knows, I may catch a really nice fish or two. At least I will get the chance to test the potential though and that’s all I can ask for.




Click on the icon for this week’s video clip


The week ahead

I wrote about testing the potential of the Dove and so I intend to do that over the next seven days as my plans are to return to the River Dove and hopefully do a couple of sessions. The water temperature is finely balanced at the moment so whether I fish for grayling or perch depends on which side of the fence it drops. But knowing the English weather I may well find myself doing both.

(Originally published December 2008)

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