Back in; my wading boots are next to the fire having spent the day compacting the river side frost. And there’s that sense of satisfaction that you’ve spent a few hours at the river, hunting that majestic of all fish, the Grayling. I gave up a long time ago trying to justify to my non-angling friends why we do it. Perhaps I should say why ‘I’ do it, because I’m sure that those that make the effort to fly fish, and target their quarry in often extreme conditions, do it for many different reasons. I am lucky enough to fish alongside some of the very finest fly anglers in the country, yet seldom is there any justification sought for why we fish within our conversations. An unspoken understanding exists that requires no questions to be asked or justification demanded.
As a young boy starting in my fishing journey, I would spend my weekends choosing stick floats, making pole rigs, preparing bait and organising every item into its chosen place. It was as much the preparation away from the water as much as the time spent fishing that was important. And that has never stopped; except that now it’s the tying of flies and the knotting of leaders. Escapism. Indeed, I spent last New Year’s Day tying salmon flies for the spring months. Grayling bugs left the vice mid-August in preparation for the colder months and no doubt this February I’ll be tying Blue Winged Olive Spinners in readiness for those hot August Summer evenings. Always forward planning; day-dreaming.
The largest of fish, the most exotic of venues. It matters very little. A sipping rise from a wild trout on a small stream, the quartering of a grayling over clean gravel can mean a great deal. Thankfully, fishing doesn’t appeal to the masses. Thankfully it appeals to those I love to share the experience with. We have a wider responsibility however to share and encourage youngsters to engage, not only in a sport, but an interest that will look after our rivers and give them the life-long passion we have been lucky enough to experience.