Wrapping Up 2011 with a Grayling from the Lugg
A late post to put 2011 to rest. Work has been crazy of late and this was coupled with taking on a tutoring role on the Bath University Architecture course, meaning there was one less day in most weeks and more to handle so I’ve gotten out the rhythm of weekend fishing, in lieu of catching up with the hours lost … we’ll aim to get back on track now though as it’ll soon be spring and time to pick up the pace of the blog again; it’s been an odd winter in weather terms, very mild compared to last year. As usual, when I’ve been ready to venture out the river hasn’t been in the mood and vice versa.
I did have a memorable trip out with Nick Steedman in early December; time moves on fast, Nick now spends time flitting between Reading, London and Copenhagen, so the logistics of organising an outing are more complex than previously but we did manage to get our act together enough for a spot of Grayling Hunting on the Lugg. Nick came across from Reading on the Saturday evening and was housed in ‘number one son’s’ bedroom, he appeared happy amongst Lego and kid junk; a bit lazy on our part but we just couldn’t face setting up the fold out sofa bed in the study (it’s become a temporary filing area). We had something that resembled a relaxed evening but it was a little compromised with me still working on the computer and being a poor host while Em’ made up for it with some Pasta and Pizza in the family room with the kids. I bumbled on trying to resolve trivial things on my computer and Nick tied a few flies; we did find a little time to book our trip last-minute via the Usk and Wye Foundation’s ‘roving’ system on their website www.wyeuskfoundation.org . Life had been too hectic for us both lately so we opted to keep it easy and share a single rod ticket, it might have been possible to set out early to claim two rods via finding a venue that sells tickets for the voucher system but we opted to secure our slot via the website, even though the suggested two rod venue wasn’t bookable on-line; we did this rather than waste time searching in the morning and risking having a wasted journey; as it happens, we were happy to share the beat on this occasion. In reality this was not really an issue as it was a chance to catch up on all sorts before focussing in on chatting about technique and the river context – we took it in turns leap frogging up sections of river and getting a feel for the water – we’ve found this is a good way to settle in to a place. I’m a great believer that sussing venues for potential future visits is the way to think about a new water, expecting too much from a first visit is likely to result in disappointment, it’s inevitable you’ll duff your way through some spots but you’ll come away wiser and ready to return again some other day, living to fish another day is a smart tactic.
It transpires that Nick spent far longer fishing than I did on the day; he’s always super keen and that’s great actually, as it gets me out there. I spent my time having the odd serious dabble whilst also wasting the percentages with fly in right spot, whilst shuffling about with the camera and taking in the scenery; I was just happy to get out in the fresh air rather than be sat at my desk. Despite this, lady luck smiled on me that day and I had a few tiddlers early on, followed by a real specimen, it’s arrival timed perfectly at around midday. A welcome point for me to stop and warm up a bit, then disappear off to the shops to buy some lunch and pick out a newspaper as an excuse to sit back in the car with some peace and quiet for the rest of the afternoon; a well timed quiet spell far from work and screaming kids with no-one to bother me until Nick’s verve gave up, I knew would likely be a few hours before the fishing itch was satiated so put on some tunes and relaxed.
Now although my enthusiasm isn’t quite up at Nick’s level, I do sometimes put in the hours but on this day I felt I’d had had my dues early on; the river had been generous to me but it was not really earned through pre-planning, research or skill. This meant I was feeling a tad undeserving, perhaps it was divine intervention (?); if it was, I was happy to receive it. My autumn river hours hadn’t really stacked up compared to Nick, who’d been out stalking at every opportunity; he’d been racking up a fair few whoppers at circa the 3lb mark and had started making it look too easy a pastime. My eye certainly shouldn’t have been in but this didn’t seem to matter, to be fair to myself I did use my nous … one spot just looked ‘right’ and I went about making the most of the opportunity via a serious probing of the depths. I set about working my line across the river carefully. Edging across the rifling food seam, I was trying not to spook any fish but giving them enough passes to provoke interest and perhaps familiarity with the look of my fly. After two or three drifts I was confused by a dull pull on the line, the take was so slow it felt like a sub surface branch had caught itself as it washed through (we had been working it up close to fallen trees through a long stretch, snarling up a few times previously). I hedged my bets and pulled into it slowly but firmly, as if trying to lift ‘the stick’ gently out the water … this particular stick had a different sort of feel though and responded with a presence confirming change of direction, power translated up the line as it moved across the current downstream; I gave some line but applied friction on the reel by hand, after a few seconds the Grayling realised it was loosing it’s footing against me, ‘the log’ then aimed itself back upstream … that didn’t work either though, so it went for the far bank again where the dance started. This was followed by a slow set of big radius arcs flowing back and forth; after 40 seconds or so of twisting and tugging, the chain mail clad dancer was ready to give up. Nick obliged by scooping out a perfect 2lb 6oz specimen for us to marvel at … a great result and just in time for lunch.
We wandered across two field edges back to the car in good spirits , Nick being very decent in saying I deserved a good fish after being stuck at my desk for too long, I’m sure he was happy in the knowledge that a promising looking tree-lined section was left uncharted for later and I had suggested he took the rest on without me. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to better the morning’s efforts so was happy to leave Nick to it for the rest of the day, he had paid for the ticket after all!
Typical water before the forested stretch:
Fallen trees and Cased Caddis:
Close up of real and not so real fish fodder:
Nick checking the Grayling over before returning it:
Final Tight Lines for 2011 and here’s to more in 2012, Splash.