I'm not known much for reciting hymns but when the conditions are like they are at the mo it always brings to mind:
In the bleak midwinter
frosty wind made moan
earth stood hard as iron
water like a stone
And so it was as I arrived at Eaton Dovedale yesterday morning. I'm absolutely kicking myself as for the first time for a while I forgot the camera. I thought I would get away with taking some pics on my work blackberry but it won't let me download the photos onto my computer, that's the IT police for you. No pics then for this post folks.
On leaving Chellaston it was -5 deg.C and is usually a good few degrees less out in the sticks so I'm guessing at about -7 deg.C when I arrived. As I walked round to my chosen spot my fingers were absolutely screaming madness and I nearly retreated. I set up with my 'new' Bruce & Walker and Dad's 'pin. My float was a Drennan 5BB wire avon this runs through well and is a set up I'd recommend.
The first spot was quite streamy and did not produce this time. After 45 minutes or so I moved further downstream below the swan island to the slacker deeper stretches. I soon started getting bites and lost a couple of fish, thought I'd got through the grayling dropping off bit but guess not. It was a great morning to be out and I kept the cold at bay by batting my reel back furiously. Several times i had to stop to de-ice the rings, this was the coldest session I can remember for a long time. There was very little wind and the Dove valley looked truly desolate. After landing a couple of fish I struck into something much better and when it surfaced knew this was the fish I'd been after for the last two winters. I soon forgot the cold when it made a good run and I hoped the size 18 barbless would hold. It used all its tricks to remain downstream but I eventually got it over the net. Well this was the fish I had yearned for and I was all fingers and thumbs due to the combination of the cold and the excitement. My balance was in the bottom of my bag slung across my back so after getting a couple of phone pics marked the length against my rod. That was enough messing about and now it was important to return the fish safely. I was pleased to see it swim off strongly, the huge dorsal up in the current.
Last night the marks on my rod measured 44cms. I've done a bit of googling for grayling length vs weight table and found an interesting paper on the grayling society website. That puts the fish at around a kilo so I'm safely putting that down as a 2lb'er, my best ever lady. Over the moon with that and a great way to christen the rod on it's first outing. Trotting is a fine method for the grayling and most traditional. The swim I was fishing was a good 6' deep and there is no way you would have got me in that stream with the current weather, it would have been bloody dangerous to Czech nymph that stretch without company. The fly rod can take a back seat until it warms up a bit. The pics would have been great and I'll save the one's on my phone but the reader will just have to conjure up the image of that magnificent fish sitting in my net on the snow covered banks of the Dove on a bleak midwinter morning.
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