After hearing reports of grayling being caught from my local stretch on the river Avon and having never caught one before I just had to give it a go. This was not the first time I had attempted to catch one of these illusive fish, but with good information I felt if I was ever going to catch one it would be now!
Being February I wasn’t entirely sure what method I should be using. I had been told to go with the float and trot down various runs but after scanning the web, I found an article about using a feeder rig with maggots. The idea of this rig was to get bait onto the river bed below the faster water and into the slightly slower water where to grayling like to lie in wait. This was the first time I had heard that the surface water is faster running than on the bottom, but this seemed like it made sense and I decided to give it a go.
Early the next morning I headed down to the river and after a 1 ½ mile walk from the car park, which involved crossing the river at the shallowest spot and crawling through the undergrowth, I arrived at the perfect spot. A nice fast-flowing section coming off an old gauging weir with trees and bramble cover.
I set up my simple feeder rig which consisted of a light leger rod and reel, 4lb main line, simple maggot feeder on a link swivel followed by a plastic leger stop and a 2lb 6oz hook length with a size 16 hook. With two red maggots on the hook and a full feeder of mixed maggots I was ready to go.
My first cast was into the fast-flowing water allowing the feeder to settle just off to one side of the fast flow on the crease. I set the rod at 45 degrees facing upstream leaving a little slack in the line which created a slight bow in the line to let the feeder just rest on the bottom. Almost immediately the tip flew around and a nice chub of 3 1/2 lb came to the net. This was a great start but I was a little worried that if the chub were about, the chances were I would struggle to get through to the grayling. On the next cast my worries disappeared as a small bite turned into a spirited fight and amazingly my first grayling came to the net! I was well chuffed with my first and PB of 1lb 6oz…and what a fish! If you have never seen one before it is a little bit of an eye-opener. How different to other UK fish they actually are, with that huge dorsal fin which has its own colouration and the slender head and long scaled body is something to warm up even the coldest angler in February!
I then followed this fish with four brown trout who also gave a great battle on light tackle but made me decide to go in search of other good looking swims. Heading back in the direction of the car park, I stopped in occasional swims flicking baits in to areas where shallow water ran off into deeper runs. Amazingly, I managed to catch two more grayling with the biggest being 1lb 8oz. Another PB! I couldn’t believe how well I was doing, especially because I had been told that grayling were scarce and I would have to really put the time in finding them. I suppose I just had the correct bait, rigs and timing as well as a bit of luck. Proof really that if you do your research before you head out you can achieve a much better catch rate.
I can’t wait to get down on the same stretch with light gear again and find more of these amazing fish!