Wednesday, 22 February 2012

River Dove - trotting for grayling

Tuesday the 21st of February

For a few years now I have said that I ought to have a go at catching a grayling but I've said the same about zander and catfish and I've yet to get around to those species either. The sight of a couple of stunning fish in Ian Firkins's blog Ordinary Angler put the thought in my mind once again and then quite by coincidence a friend, Patrick, contacted me at the weekend to ask if I fancied a trip to the Dove with grayling in mind, yes please!

Having never fished the River Dove before made the prospect even more interesting, I've walked various stretches in the past when out with the wife and dog but had never really considered fishing it and had never been anywhere near the area we headed for. Parking at the downstream end of the length we started walking up the river eyeing up likely areas on the way with the intention of starting at the top and roving back towards the carpark, what we didn't actually realise was that the river was in a big horseshoe and we could have cut across the field and saved some footwork but never mind!

Last winter I bought myself a centrepin, nothing flash just one of the Marco Cortesi ones that were bandied about in the papers at a bargain price and that actually look incredibly good for the money. Looking good was as far as it got and it had sat in my tackle room for over twelve months without even seeing a spool of line, this seemed to be an ideal opportunity to give it a try so I had spooled it up with line the previous evening. The trouble was it was quite windy and on the walk along the river it occured to me that I might be pushing my luck choosing today as my first ever attempt at pin fishing, so I bottled it and out came the trusty closed face Abu. The river was certainly pacey and I plumped for a 4AAA avon float to allow a bulk of shot to get the bait straight down to where I wanted it to be and also to give me a bit of a helping hand with line control in the blustery conditions.

The first swim I tried proved to be impossible to fish, it looked the part but the wind just wouldn't allow me to keep the float on line and it was constantly dragged into the near margin and so I was soon off downstream to catch up with Pat who it turned out had suffered the same problem and so we both headed off in search of somewhere more suitable. We both plumped for the inside of a big sweeping bend, me on the upstream and Pat maybe fifty yard further along but by the nature of the curve virtually behind me. I had some quite turbulent water but a good long run through was possible and I thought it had potential. After three runs through I heard a tractor approaching and looking over my shoulder saw it was dragging a bowser, it turned directly between the two of us and I just knew what was coming next, yep, a nice dose of liquid crap spraying out directly behind me and directly upwind, christ did it stink, we just looked across at each other and laughed. I moved pretty quickly and got on the upwind side of the crap trail, I found a nice looking run coming off a small piece of protruding bank and started flicking a few maggots in before sending the float down after them. On the fourth trot through the float sank and I was into a fish but was it what I'd come for, it wasn't very big whatever it was and when I saw it in the water I thought it was a little trout but on swinging it to hand it was indeed a grayling, job done. I persevered in that spot for a while longer but it seemed that I had timed it right on arrival as the gusting wind made most runs through totally useless, the float being dragged off line time after time which was no good whatsoever, in hindsight a waggler would have been a better option and I had actually thought I would pack a few, but forgot.

My first grayling

I decided at that point that my swim choice was now going to revolve around finding somewhere where the wind would allow me to present a bait effectively and I would then try to build the spot up by staying put for a while. I left Patrick to try a run just below a weir that looked good and first tried an area not much further downstream, two casts proved that one to be impossible so I carried on for quite a distance until I came to another area where I was on the inside of a bend and which was relatively sheltered, perfect. Swinging the float out by a rod length or so put it on an ideal line and I started flicking out a dozen or so maggots a cast in the hope of getting the swim going. Not long after starting I was into another small grayling which was a good sign, keep the bait goin in, keep it consistent and hopefully more would follow. Another half dozen trots and the float disappeared again and this felt a better fish, no monster but a proper sized one that just made it to the pound.

Getting bigger

Patrick came wandering down and we stood chatting as I hit into another bite and this one started to pull back a bit, thoughts of trout came to mind but then we saw the fish turn and it was a grayling and a good one too, a lovely looking fish weighing in at 1lb 14oz which left me really chuffed as I hadn't expected anything of that size, they really are very impressive creatures with that great big sail of a dorsal fin.

I kept at it in that swim and ended up with nine fish in total by the end of the day, the swim died after a while and I couldn't buy a bite for love nor money, we did carry on downstream on the lookout for other areas but nowhere else looked appealing and so we decided to call it a day and head for home. I really enjoyed myself and can see a day or two's grayling fishing becoming a regular thing in future winter, now about those zander and cats...


  1. Some very beautiful Grayling there Rob, they really are without doubt very stunning creatures.

  2. Well done Rob they all look great!
    You have really got me in the mood for some Grayling fishing. Lucky for me I am off to the river Itchen Friday with a few other bloggers.

    As for Zeds... get out after them soon before the rivers close.

  3. Well done mate! There's something very special about a big grayling.

  4. Off on my first grayling trip tomorrow Rob so I know exactly what you mean . Ive yet to fish for Zander yet but this year its going to happen.


  5. Cheers gents

    Hope the trip darn sarf goes well ;)

    Zander are low priority still to be honest, I'll perhaps just do it on a whim sometime

  6. Great fishing rob, I've only caught one grayling before myself so I need to get that session in that I keep promising myself before the impending close.

    Those dove fish are certainly worth the effort arent they.