I had an invite last week from a good friend of mine to fish a private stretch of the Derbyshire Derwent for a Grayling or two. Spring had arrived and conditions looked and felt good.
The river had a little colour from some rain a few days previous and the air temperature was well into double figures. I had never fished the Derwent but remember the days of the Fly versus Maggot match at the Chatsworth Angling Fair and the quality of the Trout and Grayling that were caught on the river by Bob Nudd and the various fly anglers. I used to dream about fishing the river and maybe one day taking on the maggot lads. Sadly the Chatsworth Angling Fair no longer exists but the opportunity to pit my skills against the Derwent Grayling did and I was going to make the most of my time on this beautiful river.
I tackled up my usual river rod a 10ft, 4# Greys Streamflex and decided to give the braid a go. I use a similar setup to that which Terry Phillips described in the March edition of Total Fly Fisher. My leader was approximately 8ft of 4lb Hardy Mach fluorocarbon with all three flies close together to keep them near the bottom where I hoped the Ladies would be waiting. On the point went a Hares Ear with a 3.5mm pink tungsten bead; on the top dropper Steve’s Nymph ( green and black nymph from our TF editor with a 3mm tungsten bead) and on the middle dropper the Disco Shrimp. You may remember the Disco Shrimp from Ben Bangham’s feature in the January Total Fly mag. I have had similar experiences with Pink Shrimps as Ben has had. I can never feel really confident in the many variations I have and due to this tend not to really fish much with them. However I had some Discos tied up and thought I would give them a swim.
We started at the first pool we came to on the river. I was put in the hot spot only to watch my mate catch a couple of Grayling very quickly out of the pool above. Eventually in the crease between the pool and main flow I had a take and a quality Brownie tore downstream with the Hares Ear in its mouth. A brilliant scrap followed as the fish jumped out three times as if it was a Rainbow!! Eventually I netted it and the fish was safely returned.
We headed down to the next pool. Again the hot spot was given to me with the same outcome. I struggled to get a fish whilst my pal upstream took three Grayling in quick succession!! I waded into the middle of the river and fished the run between myself and the line of bankside Alders. A Dipper flew by and the Woodpigeons in the Ivy clad Alders were fighting like two heavy weight boxers trading blows with their wings. That moments’ distraction brought the usual take which I missed. The flies were chucked back upstream and on the next run down the indicator on my braid moved and Grayling number one was on. She went like billio down stream. My Streamflex was bent double and I could see the red dorsal of a good sized Derwent Grayling. I slid the net under her and removed the Disco Shrimp. It was a beautiful pound plus Grayling. The next run down and the indicator went again and another Grayling had fallen to the Disco Shrimp. As I moved down the run I picked up 10 Grayling all to the Disco Shrimp.
We moved downstream and passed a couple of bait fishers who were struggling. My mind went back to the Fly V Maggot match at the Chatsworth Angling Fair and for a split second I was day dreaming about beating Bob Nudd using the Disco Shrimp!! Back to reality and the fishing. We tried a few slow moving glides with not so much as a take and we decided to fish the first two pools we tried. Another run through brought 7 more Grayling to the net. All of them had taken the Disco Shrimp. I finished with 17 Grayling all to the Shrimp on the middle dropper.
In the car park we met the two bait fishers. Any luck...just a couple of trout was the response. The fly had beaten the maggot on this occasion!! A cracking days fishing in some of the most beautiful surroundings you could imagine. The fish were quality ranging from 12oz to well over 1lb. This was one of the best days Grayling fishing I had ever had and I can’t wait to try again in the Summer when the fish are up and on the dries.
When I got home I turned the house upside down to find the January’s edition of Total Fly Fisher Mag. The vice came out and I tied another dozen Disco Shrimps ready for my next trip to the Welsh Dee! What a fly!! What a great days fishing!! It really was a Disco on the Derwent!!