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The Peaks River Diaries - January Grayling

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No matter how unpredictable the weather the grayling will continue to feed... No matter how unpredictable the weather the grayling will continue to feed...

January may be one of the toughest months in the angling calendar – but David Johnson loves it!





January is probably the most challenging month for me, which is why I like it!

The river has cooled and the weather is unpredictable, snow melt will rise rivers and cool the water temperature… but the grayling will continue to feed.

We are blessed in the Peak District to have some great rivers for grayling fishing such as the Derwent and Wye. The grayling in the Derwent are natural, indigenous fish and were actually used to stock some of the Scottish rivers; in fact all grayling in Scottish waters are the result of stocking, as are the grayling that are present in the Test and Itchen, which were stocked from other rivers back in the 1800s.

In January I will almost exclusively be using heavy bugs and Czech nymphs. I love this style of fishing, it’s so different from the delicate presentations of dries for trout in the warm days of spring and summer. For me, variety in fishing is what keeps me interested and searching around the rocks and channels and watching for the braided loop shooting away is as exhilarating and casting a dry over a rising summer brownie.

Shrimps and caddis larvae imitations tend to do the business, and the bigger and heavier the better in the deep fast winter flow. Patterns need to be heavy and slim and tungsten beads as well as lead round the shank are a common occurrence in my fly box. The riverbank is a different world in these months and a wonderful contrast to the heady days of summer. The banks are barren and the river often high and coloured; I find the river more mysterious and intimidating and I will be wading with a life jacket on for sure!

The robin will be hopping from branch to branch watching me carefully, but alas I have no maggots for him. It’s amazing how robins are so friendly during winter and even where humans are rarely seen they will seek me out and come within feet of me looking for a feed…


About the author

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.

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grayling, David Johnson, Peaks Fly Fishing Diary

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