Chalkstream fly fishing for grayling offers some of the best sight fishing with nymphs and dry flies in the UK. Whilst many estates close their doors at either the end of the trout season or on New Year’s Eve, there are a handful of great venues that remain open into the January and February.
Why head out in depths of winter you may ask. Well, apart from getting your year off to a fishing start, the fishing can be very good. The majority of rivers remain clear and with the days lengthening sightfishing gets easier. The middle parts of the day can experience good large dark olive hatches, often large enough to get grayling feeding on the surface. It is these two months that we also see the biggest grayling caught as they push themselves to be in prime condition ahead of spawning in March.
So where can you go grayling fishing in January and February you may ask, we have run through a few of our options below.
The Upper River Test
The uppermost parts of the River Test remain one of the best places to sight fish for grayling all winter-long. The river, close to the main aquifers, produces fresh and clear water constantly. It is this temperature stable and nutrient rich water that gives the grayling perfect feeding conditions over consistent gravel beds.
By January and February the grayling do get wary so anglers will need to adopt a stealthy approach to fool the biggest fish. When selecting flies and leaders you will often need to drop down in sizes in both with nymphs between size 16-20 being preferred to larger offerings.
We have upper River Test beats suitable for groups of 1 to 10 rods.
The Middle River Test
The middle River Test, much like the upper river, maintains its clear flows at this time of year except for periods of intense rain. The grayling will often start shoaling in the deeper slower parts of the river meaning that when you find one you will often find several. Keep your eyes peeled though as the bigger fish will generally be sat in singles or doubles.
With light still a challenge and a majority of overcast days the best methods remain fishing with a small sight indicator, generally ‘New Zealand dropper’ or similar. Sightfishing can be possible but requires patience and a slow approach.
We have middle River Test beats suitable for groups of 1 to 4 rods.
The Lower River Test
The lower River Test for much of the winter enjoys clear flows like the rest of the river but it is more susceptible to high and coloured water conditions after periods of high rainfall. It is the wilder nature of lower river that endears itself to the grayling angler, faster flows and the creation of runs and pools make the fishing very interesting.
Generally anglers will set aside the sightfishing methods of the upper river in favour of more heavy duty nymphing techniques to target the seams at the edges of swift gravel runs. The lower river boasts impressive numbers of grayling, and whilst locating the bigger fish can be a challenge they are definitely there.
We have lower River Test beats suitable for groups of 1 to 2 rods.
The River Dever
Much like the upper River Test, the River Dever is beautifully clear in the winter time. The swift headwaters provide rich clean gravel that creates a perfect habitat for fast growing grayling. In the extremely clear flows the fish can be very sensitive to the presence of anglers but the chance of locate large single fish and small shoals makes it worth while.
Again, smaller leaders and nymphs are a must with many of the preferred flies based on duller and more traditional colours such as shrimp patterns.
We have River Dever beats suitable for groups of 1 to 2 rods.
The River Frome is a very different option in the winter, whilst it can enjoy the delights of a clearwater chalkstream it is extremely susceptible to dirty water after rainfall. This however can be a blessing for the discerning angler as it allows one to get much closer to the grayling. The river is home to some of the largest grayling in the country and in fact boasts the current British record which stands at 4 lbs 8 oz.
The fishing is often challenging especially for those visiting the river for the first time as the grayling can be fickle and are usually well spread out. This is all part of the charm of one of our most beauitful south coast rivers.
We have River Frome beats suitable for groups of 1 to 6 rods, all days are guided.
For more information, further chalkstream fly fishing availability or to book a day please do not hesitate to contact us by EMAIL or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.