Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Welsh Winter Grayling

The sun shone brightly as I made my way along the cycle path however the biting wind made it feel that spring was still a long way off.  I was on the banks of the River Taff in search of grayling that seem to have flourished over the years with my biggest, a fish of 2lb 9oz.  

Swim choice would be critical in such cold conditions, and like many other rivers over the years the swims change the banks erode due to high water and as I stepped onto the sandy banks, the swims looked alot different when I last fished here a few years ago.  I chose to fish an area that had fast running water which produced slightly slacker water on the near bank.  Grayling enjoy the feeling of water running over their backs.  I would fish the crease, where the fast and slacker water met.

The taff was once an industrial river running through mining villages and towns in the valleys before reaching Cardiff and at one stage ran black with coal waste supporting very little in the form of fish species.  Now the Taff is home to Barbel up to 18lb, big chub and also migratory fish.

It may not be as picturesque as the Wye or as intimate as the Monnow but what it lacks in beauty it makes up for in fishing.  I decided to use the maggot feeder today instead of the float as I only had a short session planned.  I rigged up a medium feeder rod, 5lb mainline with a 3lb hooklink and black cap feeder running on the line, fishing double maggot on the hook.

It didn't take long to build the swim up, I was casting every 2 minutes for the first half hour only filling the feeder half full with maggots and I was soon into my first fish and the familiar twisting and turning of a spirited Grayling fought all the way to the net.  The fish in the Taff average 14oz - 1lb so this was an average fish around the 1lb mark, a beautiful male with its large dorsal catching the bright sunlight.

Larger Grayling do not twist and turn when hooked and my third fish of the session pulled away strongly as I gave a little line as it entered the strong flow.  It was either a chub or a sizable Lady of the Stream.  It soon became obvious as the colourful dorsal fin broke the surface, I readied the net only for it to become entangled in a sunken branch, as I freed the mesh the Grayling swam around in the clear water and I prayed the hook wouldn't pull.  As I slid the net under her I could tell it was pushing the 2lb barrier.

At 1lb 14oz it was just short however it was still a splendid fish, I returned the fish as it swam away strongly.

One important fact to remember is Grayling are very delicate creatures and can take quite a while to recover, especially if deep hooked, even smaller fish.  I have in the past taken up to 10 minutes holding a grayling in the flow before they have swam away.  

The swim went quiet for a brief spell after that larger fish, however with constant casting the Grayling were soon back on the bait and I had a fish a cast for the last half hour of the session.  I did not count but I certainly had over 30 fish in just a few hours.  It was a very enjoyable session that kept me busy on a cold day when many other species would of not fed so v0raciously, the Grayling is a worthy target.

I will try and return before the end of the season and target a slightly larger fish.