Summer is always a pretty pants time for fishing for me, so it was no real hardship to not really do much fishing, but at least I had a couple of French trips to look forward to, one in September, and one in October. Sadly though, with the quarantine restrictions being put into place, and not being able to afford the 2 week quarantine after each trip, we had to cancel both of these. Thankfully the lake owners of both trips, were more than happy for us to rebook the same weeks in 2021, so fingers crossed all the restrictions will be a thing of the past by then, and we will be able to go.
Moving up to the present, another fish that had been one of my long term targets was a 3lb grayling. I’d had a few 2lb+ fish over the years up to 2lb 9oz, and had certainly seen bigger, but never caught one. This year however, I set my sights on having a proper winter chasing that magical fish. Amazingly though, I didn’t need the whole winter, as somehow, I managed it on my first trip. I was fishing a new water to me, but one I knew had a very good history of producing 3lb+ every year. Having never seen the venue before, apart from on a few YouTube videos, I took a variety of baits and tackle to see what I would need on the day. Once I arrived and had a quick look and seeing how pacy it was, I quickly sorted out what I would need, and set up a trotting rod with a heavy 7g Avon float, complete with a 3lb fluorocarbon hook link and a size 14 hook. I filled my bait pouch with red maggots, and a tub of corn, and off I wandered. Fishing all the nice fishy looking spots, I caught plenty of trout and grayling of various sizes, including a couple of 2lb 1oz and 2lb 4oz. incidentally though, although I caught the trout on both maggots and corn, I couldn’t get a touch from the grayling on maggots, with them all coming to the corn. Speaking to a friend who had fished the same stretch the week before, all his fish were the other way around, with nothing coming on the corn. It just shows you need to take a variety of baits to see what they want on the day.
A bit further down the stretch, I found a nice shallow but steady glide, about 3 foot deep dropping into about 4 foot, and pinged out a few grains of corn upstream. First trot was the obligatory trout, then this was followed by another nice grayling weighing 2lb 1oz again. A few more trout and smaller grayling followed, all coming from the same small area towards the end of the trot, about 20 yards downstream. The next trot, I threw a couple more grains of corn upstream, and watching them in the water, just as they past me, I dropped my float at my feet to let my bait follow them downstream. The float just slowly pulled under though, and I thought I must have hooked the bottom. I lifted the rod and felt a weight slowly move. I pulled a bit harder and then all of a sudden, an enormadon of a grayling appeared on the end of the line, and rolled on the surface. I don’t know who was more surprised, but either way it suddenly decided it wanted to be as far downstream as it could, as quick as it could, and powered off through the swim. I could hardly backwind quick enough to keep up with it, but eventually I managed to slow it down and turn it. By now it was probably about 30 yards downstream, twisting and turning in the flow as grayling do, using that huge dorsal fin like a drogue in the current. After what felt like an age, I eventually managed to draw it all the way back upstream, only for it to see the net and bolt all the way back downstream again. Once again, I carefully drew it all the way back up, only for it to this time decide to get tangled up in the weed under my feet. Somehow it stayed on the hook, and after a couple more hair raising runs downstream, and a couple more utterly ham-fisted attempts, I managed to net it. Only then I could relax. Looking into the net, I couldn’t believe just how long this fish was, far far bigger than any grayling I had ever caught before. I left it in the net to recover whilst I sorted out all the scales and camera etc, though at this point I was a gibbering wreck! It had been a long time since I’d had a fish that had left me feeling like that. Up onto the scales it went, and I was shocked to see the needle swing round and settle over 3lb. 3lb 1oz to be precise. After all these years, and all these plans to spend the whole winter chasing a three, I had done it on my first trip. I wish I had measured it, as it was so long, but I was in a bit of a tizzy over the capture and I totally forgot, despite having a tape measure in my pocket.