Bloody Aussies! Not content with humiliating us at cricket, they send over some evil little virus to paralyse half the nation. I got the blummin thing just before New Year (cheers Bruce!) and am only now just about shaking it off.
With nice timing my recovery (ish) coincided with a receding of the local waters so today I hauled myself off to the Seven to see if I could winkle out the first winter grayling of the new year.
I had a few bits and pieces to try out. I’ve realised that the leaders I have been making for the past 20 years or so have been somewhat, ah, unsophisticated. I just tie up a three-section tapered leader going from about 8lb through 5lb and down to 2-3lb. Turns out this is highly primitive and that ‘proper’ tapered leaders have around six or eight sections of sequentially diminishing diameter, each of highly specified length, whose formulae can be gleaned from various websites. This was all new to me. Anyhow, last night I tied up something roughly equating to one of the recipes; 11ft long starting at 20lb and going down to 3lb. I also used a tippet ring – again an innovation as far as I am concerned (and one that I am not entirely convinced about yet).
I also wanted to try out my new (well, reconditioned) waders from Diver Dave. A pair of full-zip Visions that were a warranty return that DDave does his magic on and for which I paid £150 (plus £45 to repair my existing AirFlows, which will now occupy the subs’ bench).
There was a faint breath of easterly wind when I got to the river, with the temperature touching 7C according to the car. Santa had brought me a set of silk thermals which I was also using for the first time, but still it was rather nippy in the water.
I tackled up the usual Hardy Ultralite 9ft with my ‘professional’ leader and a meaty 3mm tungsten-beaded (copper) PTN to give me a decent chance of hitting the bottom.
Started here, where I have caught before, in slow, deepish (relatively – maybe 3ft) water:
But alas nothing doing. After about 40 minutes I could no longer feel my feet. Worked my way upstream into faster, shallower runs:
But not a touch. Made my way under the bridge and into the promising flow of the trout farm outfall:
I’d been at it for probably an hour and half with nothing to show bar multiple snags on the river bed (I can live with that – at least the fly is hitting depth). Then I felt some wiggly resistance and realised I had a fish on. Hadn’t spotted the take, as usual. Please god let it be a grayling. Thank you!
Way-Hay! Naively and pathetically I thought my luck had changed and that I’d hit a shoal and would pull in a hatful. Nonsense of course. That was it. Had 10 minutes in the weir pool but by now the constant snagging was becoming tiresome. Plus I had no sensation in the lower half of my body. So, knackered but cheered by the first fish of the year (and indeed no trout) I called it a day. Happy New Year!