Posts Tagged ‘Grayling fishing with maggots’

I was very privileged to be invited to fly fish a delightful syndicate water in Penshusrt last Spring by a fellow piscator.  It is a lovely spot in the shadows of Penshurst Place and takes up a minuscule part of Penshurst’s 2500 acres of formal gardens, woodlands and parkland.  Although only a tiny part of this grand and ancient estate, the setting is beautiful and seems very secluded despite its proximity to the main house.

Penshurst Place

Penshurst Place

I’m no fly fisherman but I do enjoy thrashing the water to a foam occasionally and Peter Bentley was the perfect host.  After a few casting lessons I was free to wander and enjoy the spring delights.  Numerous changes to the fly followed throughout the day and Peter finally found one to the trout’s liking; a small black buzzer.  I swapped and it wasn’t long before the fish were hitting the fly.  We both managed to coax a few fish out and I left a wealthier man for the experience.

It was now my turn to return the favour.  I offered Peter a day trotting for grayling.  I think Peter said he had not coarse fished since his childhood but a fisherman is a fisherman.  I hoped a day on the Itchen fishing for grayling wouldn’t bore him senseless and I’m delighted to say it didn’t!  A day’s fishing isn’t the same unless a hearty breakfast is involved and our usual eating establishment was the port of call.  The breakfast is ideal to keep you going for the remainder of the day.

A good quality centrepin

A good quality centrepin

We arrived at the river around noon and began the laborious process of getting the waders on and all of the other usual apparel before heading off to the river.  I think Peter was pleasantly surprised by the Itchen.  I guess that’s hardly surprising; it’s a beautiful, fast flowing river that winds its way through some lovely countryside. I think what really amazed him was the fact that so much of the river offers free fishing.  We wandered the river a little bit but settled for a really nice long glide that angled away from a long sweeping bend.  With the waders on we were able access the river and trot the perfect line.

I attempted to demonstrate to Peter the art of trotting with a centrepin.  As a fly fisherman Peter was pretty much used to the concept of a pin and now it was just a case of familiarizing himself with the reels action. The key was to ensure the line came off the reel with a controlled motion.  It’s imperative to keep a very slight pressure on the reel’s drum so it doesn’t over-spin resulting in the line spooling off the reel in a huge tangle.  It also allows you to strike whilst using the thumb as a break.  There is no need to use your other hand to feed line, a good centrepin will need no assistance there, unless the flow is barely discernible.

I have to say that after a very short demonstration Peter was soon trotting reasonably well.  I left him with some maggots and corn and wandered off to have a dabble myself.  The river was a bit higher and more coloured today after quite heavy overnight rain.  It didn’t look ideal and judging by the results, it had obviously affected the fishing.  I managed to tempt a few grayling from the top of the beat but nothing of any size.  I noticed Peter was talking to Geoff, who had wandered upstream and they looked like they had just landed a fish.  It turned out to be Peter’s first grayling and a very worthy one too at 1lb 8oz.  Not a bad fish for this stretch.



It didn’t take too long to add a few more to Peter’s tally including another fine fish over a pound.  Peter seemed genuinely delighted with his day and the method of catching them.  Fly fisherman are used to constantly doing things; casting, moving, changing flies and looking for fish.  Trotting is also a very active method and can so often involve being in the water as well as changing baits, depths, shotting patterns and floats and of course working the float through the swim at different speeds and lines.  I think Peter found it a very rewarding method and I could see him doing it more frequently.

As the day drew to an end I decided to try a deep run of around 6-7ft that I had found by wading upstream.  A few trots through this hidden spot produced a quick result.  The float buried and the fish on the other end felt very heavy and fought hard.  It thumped solidly on the end of the line.  I had a couple of problems; no net and I wasn’t near an accessible bank.  As I drew the fish close I realised it was a really decent grayling.  I managed to hand it out and only just managed to keep hold of it.  I had no scales and no bag either to weigh it in.  I don’t think it would have gone 2lbs but it wasn’t far short; maybe 1lb 12oz-1lb 14oz.  A very nice fish to end the day on.

Geoff had managed to tempt a few fish too and Martin Porter had also turned up for a go and he too winkled a few out.  I haven’t seen Martin for a while and it was good to catch up again.  Hopefully it won’t be so long until our next encounter. As the light faded we decided it was time to head home.  All in all a successful day and hopefully a new course fisherman has been born.  I think Peter will venture down again and I’ll be kept busy with another golf club member looking to try his hand at a spot of trotting in a week or so’s time.


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With only two days left to go, I had hoped that a late surge might put me close to Kev’s tally.  How wrong could I be?!  On Thursday we headed to the Wye.  It was a beat that had fished well when the river was up, however now it was at normal summer level and still reasonably mild.

Despite wandering from one end to the other I could barely muster a bite.  Meanwhile both Kevin and Geoff managed a few grayling.  I seemed to be doing well on the minnow front and that was about it for me.  However it even died for the maestros, so it was time for a move.  We packed up and headed back to the Irfon.

It wasn’t too long before we were waist deep in those cold, clear waters of the river.  Again I opted to wade down river in an effort to check out the depths.  It was pretty much even all the way down; around 2’6″ to maybe 3′, with the odd short, deeper run.  However I could only seem to find the odd grayling or two.  Meanwhile Kev was yet again slaying the fish. He ended up with several up to 2lb 5oz which turned out to be the same fish as the one I caught the day before!

Geoff also struggled a little here but not quite as much as me I think.  Still I did end up with a bonus big chub of around 5lbs, which put up a tremendous fight in the flow.  Later Kevin also had a nice 4lb+ chub to go with his burgeoning tally of grayling.

The fishing really died later on and we called it a day.

The following day saw us back on the Wye.  It was going to be a shortish session of around 4-5 hours.  Despite my best efforts I struggled for fish.  I managed a few to about 1lb 8oz but it was an effort.  Kevin of course had become a bagging machine.  I think he ended up with close to 30 on that last day, which meant he ended up with around 90-100 grayling over the four days.  Geoff also had a reasonable day and ended his few days with close to 60 fish and I bought up the rear with a meagre 35 grayling.

Ah well, you can’t win em all 🙂  Well done boys.

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