It was the coldest day of the New Year and I had arranged to get a lift with some friends down to the river Nith, to do some fly fishing for grayling. I had only ever caught one grayling and that was by mistake when I was fishing for brown trout down on the Eden two years ago, so I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.
There were five of us heading down to the river and we decided at the bakers in the morning while getting breakfast that we would split up. I went with Alan (a superb angler with a passion for grayling) and we decided to go up stream to the top beat, while the others wanted to go down to the lower beat.
As we left the bakers and arrived at the river we had a look at the water. It looked great with all the edges frozen up and the water running crystal clear. As we started to get set up I looked at the temperature on the dash board of the car and it said -4 °C, I thought that we were crazy, but couldn’t resist trying to catch myself one of the best pound for pound fighting fish in the river, so we got ready anyway.
My tackle and clothes were the sk4 breathable waders and boots, put on over my 3 layers of clothing, with my fishing jacket and Sonik waistcoat over the top and the best piece of kit that every winter angler should have is a buff, as there are so many ways it can be used to keep you warm. I had my brown trout coloured one with me just so I could be seen if I slipped or lost my balance. I then got my Sonik sk8, 9’ 5wt with a floating line on a sk4 reel, ready with a team of three flies that Alan had given me; a pink shrimp on point, a pheasant tail on the dropper all under a Klink hammer. The Klink hammer was really just acting as a sight bob.
Alan suggested we headed downstream from where we were parked to one of the big pools on the river that was holding a lot of fish at the start of the season. Alan told me to cast at 45 degrees up stream and let my flies come down as naturally as possible (i.e. in a drag free drift), as I hadn’t been out fishing in over 2 months, due to a broken leg, I started off struggling to cast the heavy flies, but I soon sorted that problem. Within my first 5 casts I had a fish - it was only a small one about 7 inches but it was my first of the day. Since it was so cold after every 12 or so casts the eyes on the rod started to freeze up making fishing even more difficult, but being too excited and happy that I had caught a grayling I couldn’t stop as I wanted a bigger one. So we kept fishing. That big pool sadly only produced one fish to the net but I missed some and so did Alan. We then decided to move as we thought the pool had been over-fished in the past few days.
We moved to a lovely part of the river upstream from where we started, where there was a deep channel on the far side with a beautiful waterfall coming in half way up the pool. Alan went in at the top and I went in at the bottom and we fished towards each another. We unfortunately didn’t catch any grayling out of that pool, but Alan had a lovely big brownie, which was returned to the water straight away.
We then went to a new bit of water that Alan had never fished before and as we started to work our way through the pool, I hit a fish almost instantly and even though it was only a small one again, it still put up a great fight. Alan then started hitting fish and he got one over 3lbs. It was one of; if not the nicest fish I had ever seen with its large dorsal fin and lovely colours. I thought to myself ‘I need to get one that size’. As the day went on I got a take that felt different from all the others, this time it felt like a better fish and indeed it was. I managed to get the fish to the net and get a good look at it - Alan thought it was about 21/2lbs - my biggest yet. As I watched it swim away, I couldn’t wait to get another like it and as for being called the ‘lady of the stream’ it sure put up some fight!
As it started to get dark and cold again we decided to call it a day with Alan getting some big and lovely fish and myself with 7 all ranging between ¾ of a pound to 2 ½lbs. For my first day’s grayling fishing it was great and I couldn’t have asked for better company and guidance.
The Sonik equipment was really put to the test in the cold conditions and it held up superbly and didn’t let me down all day. I loved the way the rod and reel helped me handle the bigger fish and at the same time they never took the joy or the sport out of catching the smaller fish. For the clothing the waistcoat has so many pockets it managed to hold all my fly boxes and tackle that I needed for the day. All in all the Sonik equipment did its job and performed to a high standard you really couldn’t ask for better tackle.
After that amazing day on the river I am glad to say that I have expanded my fishing and am now hooked on the beautiful and powerful lady of the river. Can’t wait to get back out for them and catch that fish of a life time.
Tight lines and all the best