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Robjent's Chalkstream Diaries - The Grayling Season

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Admiring the catch! Admiring the catch!

As March progresses the curtains begin to descend on the grayling season. This 2012/13 season has been marked by a continuing of the wet weather and sometimes snowy conditions. Also for fly fisherman looking to target the southern rivers it has been an unusual time when finding a river running at a reasonable level has been a hard task.

I am definitely feeling that I have not had enough visits to the river this winter season, but that will provide the drive to make the most of the trout season ahead.

For those anglers finding fishable stretches the fish have generally been ready and willing to take the fly, besides they are wet anyway so a bit more water may just cause them to change lies. One of the effects I do find from run off is during the cold weather though, is when salt spreading is happening the fish seem to switch off. I believe this is due to the salt getting into the water and putting the fish off, possibly making them feel ill, you can encounter great hatches and hardly any fish willing to eat them!

Snowed_inStood in the icy waters up to your midriff in the wintery conditions of January and February can have you questioning why you don’t have an indoor hobby, but when that rod hoops over and a grayling’s dorsal fin opens up in the current all is put back into an irrational yet logical (to a fisherman) perspective. I find that these winter outings are best enjoyed when you can head out as a small group and every January we hit the river to celebrate my father’s birthday.

This year a small group of us got together on the middle reaches of the River Itchen, a beautiful location just downstream of the grand Avington house and Park. The river was running slightly cloudy and lapping at the edges of the bank, but the sharps rays of the winter sun illuminated the surrounds marking a stunning winter’s day out fishing.

The glared surface provided the perfect cover for the lady of the stream so we adopted searching techniques with small tungsten weighted nymphs. When you got in the river to get to the likely lies, avoiding the freshly cut trout reds, you could feel that the river was carrying extra water and really pushing through. In these conditions you tend to find that most of the fish will be lined up along the seam lines, where a fast current runs along a slower current and you can see a divide on the surface.

Winter_PreperationSure enough the first run delivered a grayling tucked just out of the main flow, that was until it was hooked! As soon as it felt the tension of being hooked it glided into the current and raised its bright orange dorsal fin leading to a chase downstream. Out of the flow they may not be the most powerful fish, but when they are in the current it is hard to find a more exciting fish.

Throughout the day we all picked off a few fish along the edges of the current, even for a brief half hour or so period a slower section produced a few rises. Like all great grayling days we rounded the day off with a few beers, great food and lots of fishing stories in front of a warm fire.

It is now time to start winding down the grayling fishing and start preparing for the trout season; I am waiting for the 1st April with great anticipation. I am left to wonder what this season will bring, in the next diary entry we will look at a pre-season forecast.

Until then I hope you all have an enjoyable end to the grayling season!

Alex Jardine
Alex Jardine

Alex Jardine works for international fly fishing specialists Aardvark McLeod where you can contact him at alex@aardvarkmcleod.com

Robjent's is a well-known country pursuits store located in Stockbridge in the heart of the Test Valley and a mecca for local and visiting fly anglers.

They stock a diverse range of high quality fly fishing tackle, shooting equipment, clothing and accessories as well as the providing the latest information on fly fishing and the most popular fly patterns in the area and further a field. Such brands as Hardy, Greys, G Loomis, Abel, Nautilus, Lamson, Rio, Costa, and many more can be found in store.

Go in and see the shop or for further information call +44 (0)1264 810829.

Robjent's, Halfway House, High Street, Stockbridge, Hampshire, SO20 6EX

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