Friday, 19 February 2016

Fly Fishing: Winter Grayling and scouting about.

16th-18th February 2016

It's official, i've wet my knot after 4 months. With my good friend Mike France off work for a couple of days we both felt the need to get our fishing. Fortunatly we was hit with 2 dry days after a week pf rain allowing the river levels to drop substantially, the rivers were still up a foot or so which allowed us to fish many nore deeper holes but with the temperature barely above freezing we opted for a dinner time start in the hope the water would be 'a little warmer'.

We soon arrived and was into a fish within five minutes each, both grayling! With our point system in place (3 for a grayling 1 for a trout) we were both off to a flyer. This grayling was extra special too, as it was the first fish to be fooled by a fly tied by my own hand! Funnily it aas a copy of the fly that caught me my first grayling the year prior. I was fishing trio with not too much weight, but the water was running fast so it was a case of pocket water hunting.

Mike took the lead with a trout and another grayling and headed upstream. I caught a small trout then targeted a 2 foot strip of slack water next to a raging riffle,  i was in straight away and the grayling made light work of the fight by swimming towards me through the rough water. However the next 3 that took the fly were pulled off the hook as soon as they entered the rough riffles. It was frustrating obviously but still fun knowing my flies were convincing fish to feed. After the run went quiet i headed up and caught up with mike.

He told me of a fish he'd lost that he'd on for quite a while which was frustrating as it would of been the biggest of the day easily and we headed across a deep slow pool fed by a bend in the river. I was into a nice grayling straight away it was running me downstream and from past experience i lost alot of grayling last year when they got below me, giving it some line in the hope to calm it down as i headed downstream to get below it, however after constantly thumping the bottom it came off, possibly due to the line slacking as i headed past it. Thing went a little quiet for me then, well compared to Mike.

Mike had found a pool of them and his shrimp he tied the night prior was pulling them out! As a team effort there is no frustration in seeing your friend catch fish after fish even if he manages to make the score of 38 points (10 grayling 8 trout) i meanwhile had caught a second small trout and a small grayling. I again came into a decent grayling and was again frustrated as it swam under a snag, possibly the other half of a pipe that stretches across the river. I waded out and used my stick to spook the fish and after some head shaking it was off the hook and my flies popped out of the snag.

Following Mikes lead i tied on my own czech nymph, barely able to feel my fingers at this point. Heading up past the bend in search of fish i fished a pool i had caught several fish previously and wasn't dissapointed. Well, not by the lack of takes, 6 grayling i lost before a final 7th take was in the net. With the wind coming upstream my line was doubling over on itself meaning it was very difficult  keeping in contact possibly causing poor hook placements and thus lost fish.

Overall we ended the day on 52 points. 14 grayling 10 trout and despite the freezing weather it was a very good day!

The next day we had planned to look at the second half of the river however some overnight rain had occurred and with the new river level chart being a little hard to understand as peaks and gradual rises are higher to define we risked the journey to heck. Upon arrival it was up another 2 feet easily, raging chocolate brown and all running at one speed with no slack water in sight. So we decided to go pike hunting on the canal.

The canal was crystal clear when we arrived, very little cover as it had been cut down and only 3 feet deep at most. It took till a mile or so before we hit coloured water and with my pike senses tingling i spotted a jack pike slowly moving out from the side. We both tried tempting it and after a brief look at Mikes fly it awam off to the opposite bank.  Moving on up we fished a basin and any weed or cover that was there with no avail so we continued on our pike stalking.

I again spotted another pike just on the inside of the wall and again we both tried to convincd it but after following our flies briefly it soon grew wary and swam off. The third and final pike which i spotted was much the same but we was dissapointed with the canal overall. Nothing moving, no features or cover and a small dead jack on the bottom. Probably due to the clear water and kids with air rifles.

On the third day we knew the rivers would still be up ao we headed deep up the river in its top most tributaries in search of fishable water as we expected it to run off quicker here than the main river and  it had. We didn't fish for long as we was scouting for water to fish when the main river is rained off and we found some. We both convinced a trout each in our brief moments of fishing, and i lost a second fish. Was good to be up in the wilds of a narrow stream which held some very fishy pools.

All in all it was good to be out in good company and despite only carching 4 grayling and 3 trout in 3 days it wasn't wasted. We learnt alot about the river and its changes and we broke our duck of 4 months without fishing. Finally catching fish on my own flies was a huge moment in my fly fishing journey!

:pics and videos will be added once my internet is sorted:


  1. Enjoyed reading that. A shame the EA won't countenance the introduction of grayling into the Irwell catchment.

    1. It is but in time things might change, if we continue to clean up the irwell and sort out pollution incidents then maybe one day.