Monday 24th August, 16:00 - 20:00hrs. River Wharfe, Wetherby. Really persisting then clearing. 20C and cooling fast.
I had reason enough for a trip to Wetherby with work this Monday and after Pete had had success with Grayling whilst fishing with a mutual colleague up here, I asked our man in the North if I could climb on board .... and he said yes.
Nick Sutton generously guided me on the river almost literally at the bottom of his garden in my attempt to catch my first Grayling.
First thing to say is that the Wharfe could not look more different to the lowland rivers of the midlands. Hard bottomed and the colour of strong tea, shallow and fast moving in places. Prone to sudden spate and looking like a thoroughbred Salmon motorway it was a true coarse / game hybrid habitat.
Local knowledge is a hard earned and valuable asset when on new water and given Nick's school mate and local fishing stablemate was Darren Cox I listend to every pointer offered.
Let's face it, it's a two hour drive up here and I had the light and the clock loud in my ears whilst trying to catch a Grayling and fish with a new pal. Ever noticed how you always botch a cast when someones watching?
It commenced raining as we were walking to the river and just got heavier and heavier for about an hour. The rain kept up until after six o'clock which meant the first half of the session was pretty uncomfortable to say the least. It hampered photography completely and so regrettably I have fewer photos than I might have liked.
The approach was to fish a medium weight stick float at near dead depth and to feed maggots upstream.
The first run we tried was a cracking looking crease swim with all the depth on the near bank. I fished it OK (I think) but only had minnows from here. The rain had soaked me through by the time we finished in this swim and the bran from the maggots was caking my wet fingers, not nice.
We moved upstream to the bridge, waded out to an island mid river then upstream again to face the bridge struts. It was here that Pete had his Grayling a month or so ago.
Under instruction I fed maggots into the almost slack water behind the stanchions and cast upstream into the hole behind the bridge. The float drifted slowly left to right in the competing circular flows at the back of the bridge. After about fifteen minutes I had my first bite - a small chublet. It was still hammering it down at this time and we both agreed to keep a close eye on the river levels using a mortar line on the bridge as a guage as we were now mid river. It never ceases to amaze me the power that even calf high water has to dislodge your foothold when wading. Couple this with slippery rocks and a rising river and self-preservation is woven into the fishing canvas.
My second fish was my first ever Grayling. After a short wiry fight and a writhing unhooking the fish was weighed at thirteen ounces. The combination of the heavy rain and Nick's estimation that we would catch both further and larger fish meant I left the camera in the relative dry of my shoulder bag.
A flurry of fish followed including Chublets, some really lovey looking Perch up to 1lbs 11oz and another Grayling the same size as the first.
The bites slowed up a bit after this and I had to pull for a break three times in quick succession on the same snag. It was as though the snag had just appeared as I had been fishing trouble-free before this.
I fished on until I pulled for my fourth and final hooklength break at eight o'clock. The light was now fading and with the long drive home starting to loom large I called it a day. I just had the two Grayling in the end and the nice Perch in competition terms. Unfortunately the rain prevented a photo of the Grayling but I have a stout witness in Nick my guide.
The 'silver' Grayling and 'bronze' Perch give me the lead back in our competition. The scores on the doors are now;
A big thanks once again to Nick Sutton for his hospitality on this trip - he never even wet a line! Perhaps the intense concentration on my face throughout belied the need for me to catch that Grayling!