The past couple of weeks have brought a new kind of fishing low. The winter grayling fishing got off to a bad start earlier this month with high water and cold extremities. The fact that my (more experienced) fishing pal blanked as well was possibly a small consolation, but some early damage to the fishing confidence was nevertheless dealt.
Carefully playing down this feat I tried to paint a rosy picture to my brother. Images of crisp winter sunshine, secret pools and massive grayling enticed him down from the north east to spend a few days here. I described short, relaxing days spent prospecting for monsters. The evenings would bring searing hot curry at our favourite joint and a few pints of the best of beers to round things off.
Here are some statistics for you. In four trips for grayling I have:
spent 20 hours chucking bombs into icy rivers
struck 316 times at false takes from snags
spent 5 hours thawing out frozen feet
lost 11 flies
lost 4 complete leader setups
broken the tip of 1 rod (a particularly proud moment)
lost my mind
and… caught no fish
Not since the earliest days of my fishing career have I blanked so impressively: this was truly spectacular failure. I should add that I swore on several occasions, most notably when coming incredibly near to falling in (twice). This is clearly bad form, and generally leads to further bad luck. In case this all sounds a little, um, negative, I did HOOK one fish on the second trip. Actually, it was a damn big fish, probably somewhere north of 2.5lb. Of course it came off. It would almost have been a shame to have ruined a perfectly good bit of blanking with a lunker.
With this kind of success rate, I’m seriously considering a career change to martian exploration. It certainly makes you realise that no amount of obsessing over casting, fly tying or other peripheral matters will make you catch fish if they’re not there. Finding grayling in winter can be soul-destroyingly difficult. Despite this, I think that in general if you get your flies to the fish, they’ll usually take. But something about these trips just felt wrong. I never really felt near a fish.
The dreaded question does inevitably creep up at a time like this: what the HELL is the point?
Well, if I had an answer to that then maybe I’d be rich. More likely I’d have taken up cross-stiching. I think that basically, I don’t like failing. I’m perfectly happy to accept that I’m shit at something, but that doesn’t stop me having a pretty long go at it (my PhD studies are a case in point). For the moment, grayling fishing has got the better of me. It’s time to give it a rest, at least until my toes look a little less blue. There is actually a trip in the works to a secret river in a couple of weeks. It’s supposed to have loads of grayling. If I ever DO catch one, I’m going to kiss it and say thanks for taking pity on a blank-firing angler.
In the interest of fairness, I should further point out that my (again, more experienced 😉 ) pal did actually catch a grayling on one of the trips. This was, it should be even FURTHER pointed out, only after my brother and I painstakingly woke him up with 39 drifts right over his head. Talk about being a gillie.
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