By politevengeance, Dec 9 2011 05:59PM
The club Grayling Day was something of a first, but judging by the eager faces and full car-park (even half an hour before it was due to start) it was highly anticipated! Members came from near and far, with Steve winning the distance award with a 120 mile journey to attend...so no pressure on Rob and Adrian, who were hosting the event, to ensure that everyone left still smiling!
Rain had engorged the river the previous day, and sluiced through the two weir pools by the rain shelter at a fast pace, a foot above normal levels and heavily coloured. In it's own right, that would have been enough to put me off and send me scurrying home, but as it was, I had come to learn how to appoach the river when it was like this, so what better opportunity to see how it should be done.
Rob had already assembled a veritable production line for fly-tying and was knocking out characteristically superb flies to a number of patterns, all proven Grayling takers on the river, which drew an interested audience. The only difficulty this presented was the massed bodies eventually shut out all the light and left Rob squinting ineffectually at his wonderful creations in the gloom. Some sort of flood-lighting is probably in order for future events!
Tea was almost magically produced courtesy of Leighton's affinty with two volcanic Kelly Kettles, and after a conversations and anecdotes muffled by mouthfulls of chocolate digestives, Adrian explained some of the essentials of Grayling fishing and some basic tackle set-ups. Rob moved away from the tying bench and took up the role of practical tutor and model.
He proceeded to demonstrate some killer techniques for fishing heavy nymphs through the swollen winter waters, and despite the lack of fish in the 'demo' pool, these nuggets of wisdom were eagerly absorbed by the watching audience.
After the demo on French Nymphing, Adrian kindly offered me the opportunity to try. In front of everyone. I dislike fishing in front of an audience. This is because I'm plagued with oafish clumsiness when I try too hard, and am frankly a bit of a buffoon. Nonetheless, with all eyes on me, I gave it a go. With a little coaching I did manage to get the hang of casting a long mono leader, with no flyline out at all...which is harder than you might think. Well ....I got the hang of it briefly anyway, before I thoroughly lost my grip on it altogether, and after a brief swish of Rob's rod, handed it back to him, eyes down and mumbling embarrassed apologies, with a hideuos and irretrievable tangled mess at the end. Ah. I put this partly down to extreme shivering, as I was chestnuts deep in the river without the trusty temperature buffer of my snowboarding trousers, which reside under my waders. A stark reminder that winter was definitely here.
Staying well away from Robs tackle from that point on, we ate a fine lunch of excellent butcher-made burgers, bacon (well most of us...'if you snooze, you lose' as the old saying goes, though in this case it was a call of nature), and sausages, all with a handsome dollop of Leightons spectacular home-made chilli sauce.
Demo's and Q&A sessions resumed before Rob, staking his not inconsiderable reputation, decided to show us how to catch fish in the murky, fast flood water. Needless to say, he did not disappoint, snatching a handful of grayling, trout and even a small Sewin from the roiling river upstream. I tried to catch his triumph on camera, but alas for Rob I only captured the image below in which the fish is somewhat difficult to see as I think it's hiding behind the fly.
Anyhow...procedings concluded, and many happy and enlightened anglers departed with smiles as big if not bigger than the ones they arrived with. Steve and I however, were keen to cement this new information into place by putting it to immediate use. Upon Robs advice, we headed off down-stream some way to fish a couple of pools. As I said before, the river in this condition had often sent me scurrying straight home after fishless attempts in the past, but this time, armed with guidance on selecting likely fish-holding spots in the margins, we fancied our chances and split up to fish our chosen pools.
It didn't take long - within three minutes I pulled a handsome trout out on my little pink and pink-tungsten bead headed nymph, and from water I'd swear would render a fly with a lightbulb on it invisible. Yet, this feisty trout had indeed seen my fly. What's more, he was followed by 5 grayling, one of which was a fine fish, and all of which came from exploring the margins and pockets of calm water out of the flow. Steve was similarly succesful with a Grayling that certainly trumped mine. Wonderful!
So there we have it; proof yet again, if proof were needed, that no matter how many books, magazines and DVD's we chew through, there's little substitute for spending time watching another angler fish as there's always something to learn (in my case, quite a lot).