For grayling addicts, such as Howard Colmer, winter’s short days can provide long and wonderful memories.
AUTUMN CAN BE the season of changing colours, warm evening sun and the last fly hatches, whereas midwinter is the reverse. The shortening days, unforgiving nature of a hard frost and bracing weather conditions can make sitting in front of the fire a more appealing prospect than going fishing. For some of us, at least. Although the dropping water temperature and receding photoperiod [the response of organisms to the length of day or night] stimulates our native brown trout to breed rather than feed during the lean winter months, there is one species that positively thrives in these conditions – grayling.
Although once considered to be a nuisance on the southern chalkstreams of England, the grayling’s sporting qualities, charm and eagerness to take a fly in the depths of winter make it worth targeting.
I am biased in this assertion because I am fanatical about them, preferring the challenge of catching a 3lb specimen grayling over any brown trout or salmon. On a daily basis from mid-autumn onwards, my mind wanders to winter fishing adventures. This may seem to you an odd confession, but winter means my frenetic work schedule is behind me and I can finally switch off and look forward to catching this truly wild fish.
Having grown up in Hampshire within a stone’s throw of several chalkstreams, as a boy I regularly frequented the free stretches of the rivers Test and Itchen. Perhaps due to my January birth, I have a strange affiliation with winter grayling fishing and whenever a trip is organised, the weather is a huge part of my enjoyment.
A hard frost heightens my senses, I recall past adventures and I become eager to go fishing. One trip last winter to a Test tributary is cemented in my memory.
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