21 and 24 Oct 2019 The Broadlands Grayling Classic (Part one of two)

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I don’t think anyone will argue that we have had some fairly heavy rain the last few weeks and this amongst other things has kept me from getting out to fish. With the Broadlands Grayling Classic around the corner though and conditions looking favourable I ventured down for the first day of practice. After chewing the fat with a few other anglers, I hot footed it down to the very bottom of the beat. One of my favourite sections it always holds big Grayling. The river had as expected a lot more water in it than previous years but it was also running reasonably clear. I knew exactly the spot I wanted to get on to make my first cast. It is a little tricky as the ledge is fairly slim but I inched my way along almost at the spot I would make my first cast. I had rigged up some real bruisers to get down into the deep run that had a fair old flow going through. I had just reached up to release the flies to their work when my tenuous foothold gave way.

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I have fallen in too many times to recall but always been back on my feet in seconds. This time though I was bobbing down the river like a cork! Two things immediately occurred to me I still had my nearly new Hanak Superb in my hand and I was wearing a new hat my pal Graham Lumsdon had bought me. No ordinary cap it had little LED lights in the peek for those late evenings or just dark days when extra light is required. So, as I am floating gracefully down the river like a swan with my feet going ten to the dozen I managed to rotate myself around and reached the stone wall. I got my rod and cap safely on the bank I clawed my way back up to where I could scramble ashore. Its not easy pulling yourself out of the river when your waders are full of water! After checking everything that should be attached to me still was I swiftly checked to make sure there were no witnesses. It could have been much worse someone might have had a camera…..lol.

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I stripped off all my kit and clothes and wrung them out as best I could, it was not particularly cold so I got dressed and cracked on. This time from the bank I made my first cast of the day right into where I had just been paddling. The rod tracked the nymphs down the run before buckling over halfway back, It was one of the big ones! Nope, a bloody trout of about 4lb I was gutted but hey ho, after quickly subduing the fish I got it back safely and cast into the same area, BOOM the rod went again this time it was one of the rivers Ladies. It was a cracking looking fish and I did take a few pics unfortunately my camera should have been dried out first! Not the best of starts I worked my way up the river and was managing some good sport. Not yet feeling the cold, thank goodness it was a warm day. I worked my way up to Adam and Julian from Wet Your Knot and regaled them with my story. Adam had some dry kit in the car but I told him I would be fine. I moved above the boys and kept fishing the sport was not what you would call blistering but fishing heavy nymphs you could eke out a few fish. They were a great stamp with the majority of them being well over 30cm.

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By the time I had reached the Island I had hit my stride and was taking fish more consistently. Most of the guys I spoke with were struggling a bit I had managed around 15 Grayling and 4 OOS Brownies. Not to shabby, I caught sight of Adam and Julian again and Adam kindly gave me some of his dry clothes so at least my top half was starting to warm up. To be fair I had just begun to start shivering and this helped extend my day a little. I also stopped for a bite to eat before carrying on somewhat unsuccessfully in fact in the afternoon I only managed to add another three Grayling to my tally. By the time 1630 rolled on I was no longer capable of presenting my flies on a dead drift the shivering causing me to jig the flies along the bottom. Discretion was the better part of valour and I packed up for the day and headed home.

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After completing some domestic challenges (Ikea, I will say no more) I was joined by Del Spry to have another day on the Thursday. We had a plan to fish the water I had not managed to cover on the Monday. We were at the top car park bright and early, well I say bright but it was actually pretty bleak and the weather was only going to get worse. While tackling up we noted several fish moving just by the bridge and Del could not resist a quick cast. We were joined by Tony Fox who had come up for a look around and he told us that he had managed a few of those fish the previous evening on dries. We failed to catch them though and moved upstream to seek more willing quarry. We dropped in a hundred meters up and both took our first fish of the day. It was not the fast and furious sport that we were used to at Broadlands but none the less we did start building decent bags.

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After getting up towards the top of the beat Del caught a cracking Grayling and I ran around to capture the image. Del will be writing a short piece for Todays Fly Fisher soon and needed some pics. Look out for the article I am sure it will be a very informative and entertaining piece. I had returned to my spot and started fishing a deep hole with some heavy jig bugs. The first Grayling was a cracker and after returning it back to the depths another quickly followed. The third time my rod went over I thought I had hit the mother of all Grayling but as the reel started to scream at me I thought it was an OOS trout. Del had come to join me and said that’s a Salmon. I have only ever caught one previous to this but landing it on the Hanak Superb was going to be a tall order especially with 2.5lb tippet. The rod performed admirably and after ten minutes Del had safely netted my prize. What a really well conditioned fish it was beautifully marked and it had me grinning from ear to ear.

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Del and I went on to catch a few more fish before heading back to the car for a bite to eat. We spent the remaining time dipping in and out of some of the beats we were less confident on. It was now very wet and the rain seemed relentless. There was going to be a price to pay for all this rain to be sure. Towards the end of the day the weather finally cut us a break and the sun winked out at us for a time. We worked hard to maximise the time we had on the water but all too soon it was time to get back home. My good wife Jayne had made some chilli to warm our bones and there were a few wee drams to try. Practice completed we chatted through the various beats and what we might expect from them. An early night and a lazy morning sorting out our gear and getting ready for the competition.

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The second part of this blog entry will be ready tomorrow.