Stop playing with your food and eat properly (grayling article and video, entry 284)

Stop playing with your food and eat properly

Whoever said that time flies knew exactly what they were talking about. It hardly seems like five minutes ago and I was on the River Trent on January 1 2008 fishing for perch. And here we are, 52 weeks later and 2009 is almost upon us and I’m writing my last article of the year. And for that I headed to a Trent tributary that I have been fishing fairly regularly lately – the River Dove. For many anglers the Dove is synonymous with barbel, but it contains far more than that and as an all-rounder I have fished for both grayling and perch in recent weeks, with the former being my target this time round.

A promising start but then it’s downhill fast

There had been recent rain and the river was up a little as I walked the bank to the peg that I had chosen to fish. It wasn’t racing through but the extra pace meant that my cage feeder tactic was going to be a good choice this time round. Loose feed would just be washed away in the current but by using a feeder I would be able to put the bait straight on the river bed where I cast. The accompanying video shows the rig that I used, which was very simple indeed as you can see. My thoughts are always to keep it easy to start with and only when necessary begin to complicate things.

The water temperature as I started the session at 8.30am was 6C, a definite improvement on recent weeks and even on the local canal system which was still frozen over in places. I was even thinking that this could be barbel weather rather than grayling. But I had come prepared for grayling and so I was focused. And I had a fish first cast which was a great start to the session. Unfortunately though it was all downhill from there. The next reading saw the thermometer at 5.5c and then 5C. By the time I packed away it had fallen 1/3 from the morning’s reading to a very lowly 4C. The river continued to rise but with cold water, and that’s just about the worst conditions that you can encounter. It was hardly surprising that even the grayling were playing hard to get.


A fish in difficult conditions


Stop playing with your food

I was still getting interest though from the fish at fairly regular intervals throughout the day, but they reminded me of naughty children playing with their food. I wasn’t getting solid bites as grayling usually give but what I would describe as a series of plucks, taps and knocks. But I was determined to see the session out and I was glad that I did because as the sun started to set over the horizon I caught the second grayling of the day, about the 1lb mark.

I usually have the river to myself on this stretch but a couple of other anglers arrived mid-morning. But by lunchtime they had gone. I figured that they too had struggled and I understand why anglers quit when the going gets tough but I usually battle on and fish until the time that I had originally set for myself. As long as you have that wonderful quality that we call optimism there is always a chance that even the hardest of sessions can be turned round by the catching of just one fish.

And a couple of salmon parr to end with



Tip of the week

Set yourself a time before the session starts and stick with it.

It’s easy to get tempted to quit when the going is hard but it’s that dedication and determination that can be the fine line between success and failure.

Stick at it, you’ve got nothing to lose but everything to gain.

As darkness settled in it all looked very bleak (no pun intended) as the river was rising with cold water. Yet I ended with two small salmon parr. I did an internet search when I got home and discovered that in recent years the Environment Agency have released 500,000 fish into the River Dove. So looking at the statistics, it wasn’t such an outstanding or interesting catch after all. I do wonder though if salmon establish themselves into the River Dove whether it will have any adverse affect upon coarse angling. I guess only time will tell on that one.

This is the time of the year when we look forward but we also turn our heads behind us and consider the past twelve months. I’ve had a decent enough year and as the articles archive for 2008 show, I nearly always had a decent enough fish to pose with for the weekly articles. I didn’t do any personal bests though, something that I excelled in during 2007. The one thing that I have deliberately introduced into my angling for this year though has been flexibility. I was previously guilty of starting a campaign for a species and sticking at it when I should have moved on to something else. I have actually found a release in that new-found freedom and that has helped me enjoy my angling even more, something that I never thought was possible as I was already 100% passionate.


The sun sets over the River Dove

The year that lies ahead

My ambition first and foremost is to continue to enjoy my fishing. I will be 47 in April (time definitely flies) and I want to still possess that child-like excitement that I currently have in abundance. In fact, even as I write this, I am going fishing in the morning and I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve. And may that passion never fade, even though my eyes are going a little and I struggle to tie size 18 hooks in dusk conditions! On the actual fishing front I will definitely be doing a number of tench/bream sessions in spring, as per the last four or five seasons. The venue is a gravel pit and it’s not an easy place to fish so I relish the challenge. My best tench has just been short of 10lb by a few ounces so I’d love to catch a double from the water. But apart from that I am not sure myself what 2009 holds. The only way to find out is to to read my Angling Journal on a weekly basis and see what I get up to. Hope to see you soon and have a great New Year. And if you’re on facebook, check me out (I use my ‘real name’) and become my friend.

Click on the icon for this week’s video clip


The week ahead

I want to begin 2009 as I did 2008 – after perch. But this time round I’m hoping for a better start as I struggled twelve months ago. A lot will depend on the weather of course, but I’m going to give it my best shot and you can’t ask for more than that.

(Originally published December 2008)

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