08 December 2008
8th December 2008
What a lovely fish the grayling is and what a welcome part of freshwater angling.
A river fish this, though I know of one stillwater that has quite a lot of them.
In Derbyshire, grayling inhabit the rivers Derwent, Dove, Wye and Noe and are willing to feed in the coldest conditions.
Among the many attractive things about the grayling is their unique smell.
Not fishy, but as their Latin name Thymalus tells us, they are said to smell of the herb thyme.
Most grayling have strangely-shaped eyes, not quite round but pointed in shape and though I have caught a lot of grayling in my time I never cease to marvel at what huge dorsal fins the male grayling have.
Another advantage of these remarkable autumn and winter feeding fish which allow us to go fishing when it is so cold that other species are reluctant to feed is that being wild fish exclusively and quite numerous in Derbyshire rivers, they are absolutely wonderful to eat.
Cook them the same day you catch them: coat them in fine oatmeal and fry. You may prefer them to trout.
Grayling are short-lived, rarely more than four or five years old and they grow very quickly in their first year.
A decent-sized Derbyshire grayling is 1lb but odd ones can reach the 2lb mark but they are not numerous.
Grayling will feed on lots of different baits such as bread, corn, worms and maggots and they take artificial fly well in autumn.
Early autumn is a great time to fish for grayling when they are in large shoals.
Always present in the Derbyshire Derwent, these fish have in recent seasons spread further downstream almost into Derby and thank goodness in the rivers that are mainly regarded as trout fisheries that they are no longer regarded as vermin to be destroyed.
I advise readers not to kill a grayling when the winter is nearly over for being early-spawning fish, March as often as not, they are past their best as late in the new year as that.
08 December 2008 9:31 AM