The Peaks Fly Fishing Diaries – Autumn Days
In this month’s diary David is getting to grips with sashimi-chomping rainbows and autumn grayling.
Autumn days are some of the most productive and exciting for the fly angler, for me it’s a two pronged approach: grayling in the rivers and large rainbows in the stillwaters.
Back in spring the resident coarse fish on my local reservoir were busy spawning. Now, these offspring can be found as large shoals of roach and perch fry seeking shelter around the rocky shallows. Large rainbows, seeking a more meaty mouthful have started to attack these shoals. It can be quite a spectacle as the bow wave powers through the shallows like a nuclear submarine, chasing their prey, tiny fish leap and swerve to avoid the onslaught but the underwater explosions signal the rainbows are making the most of this sashimi buffet.
This surely has to be some of the most exciting fishing on offer, tying flies to imitate these small fry and then stripping them back through the water in front of a surging rainbow, watch the bow wave accelerating towards your fly and then...smash!
What a contrast the grayling is to the rainbow, its small, delicate mouth and effeminate appearance quite outshines the toothy jaws and brutish manner of the rainbow in the beauty stakes. This elegant creature is sensitive to the environment, its disappearance often the first worrying signs of a drop in water quality. The grayling is found in fast, clear rivers and streams all over the Peak District and is a wild, indigenous fish.
As the weather cools, the trout’s attention will turn to spawning but the grayling will keep feeding even on the most bitter days and waits for spring to spawn alongside its coarse cousins.
A change of mindset is often required to be successful with the grayling, Whilst there can be a sporadic rise in the afternoon as the temperature peaks, it is sometimes necessary to fish deep, trundling a heavy nymph around the rocks where the grayling will be picking bugs from the underwater conveyer belt as they streak past.
I urge anyone who limits their fly fishing to spring and summer to give autumn fishing a crack. Stood amongst the falling curtain of red and orange with a crisp frost on the ground and hot soup in the flask, catching one of these magnificent creatures in the cold, fast water is nearly as satisfying as a pint in front of the log fire afterwards.
Dave Johnson lives near Sheffield on the edge of the Peak District where he has been fly fishing since childhood. He is manager of Peaks Fly Fishing and helps run the Birchinlee Fly Fishing Club. Dave is also brand director for Harkers Fishing and a keen fly fishing writer, contributing to various print and online publications.
Articles by the same author
- The Peaks River Diaries - Catch and No Return...
- The Peaks River Diaries - January Grayling
- The Peaks Fly Fishing Diaries - Hot Soup and Grayling
- The Peaks River Diaries - Sitting and Looking
- The Peaks River Diaries – Cricket Weather
- The Peaks Fly Fishing Diaries - Early Hatches
- The Peaks Fly Fishing Diaries – Winter Thoughts
- The Peaks Fly Fishing Diaries – Winter Food
- The Peaks Fly Fishing Diaries – Autumn Days
- The Peaks Fly Fishing Diaries - 'Sloe Gin and Season Climax'