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Chasing another elusive bucket list fish in England: Grayling

Posted by on December 30, 2018

While being in England, I had the chance to go after some Grayling, another fish on my bucket list that I wanted to catch so it was time for another fishing expedition. In this year, I’ve only had great success with fishing in saltwater locations such as Mexico, Scotland, and California. That’s why England has become my go-to location for freshwater fishing and chasing down bucket list items to get marked off. It is a place does not fail me! So continues my quest for bigger fish.

Due to my history of success in England, I figured the Grayling would be an easier fish to catch rather than going to Slovenia or even Austria where they exist as well. Note that there are different species of Graylings but the ones most commonly known are the Arctic Grayling, Australian Grayling, New Zealand Grayling (extinct), and the European Grayling so differentiation is required for proper identification. The latter species, the European Grayling, was the one that I was after as they are often known as the “Lady of the Stream.” Like the Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout, the Grayling prefers cold, clean, running freshwater but they live in slightly different environments and have a slightly different diet. So in essence, they are not really in competition with other trout in theory and some Grayling will actually become food for other big predator fish like Pike and Huchen. They are, however, quite nice fish to look at particularly with that big topside fin. It kind of reminds me of the sailfish that I caught in Costa Rica except these fish are much smaller and a little bit easier to fight.

river bend for fishing angling English waters England UK British Briton catch release

It doesn’t look much but this bend in the river actually contains quite a bit of fish. It not only holds Graylings but also wild Brown Trout, Atlantic Salmon, Roach, and minnows.

brown trout juvenile small black spots tiny young trout fish

It pains me to say this but this wild Brown Trout was a by-catch despite my attempts to catch a Grayling. Here I took a quick photo before quickly releasing the fish back into the water.

back view of fisherman POV

Here’s a nice stretch of the river where the most success was achieved. Lots of Graylings but unfortunately also lots of Brown Trout being greedy.

Fishing for Grayling certainly presented a different kind of challenge as it required multiple casts into the river where other intended fish species were caught: brown trout and minnows. Even Roach and Atlantic Salmon were spotted in the river as well but they cannot be targeted like the brown trout since they are out of season. It just happens that in order to catch this elusive Grayling a lot sifting through the sands of the river water must be conducted in order to get to the river jewels: the Graylings. All fish were required to be catch and release plus I had no desire to keep any of these fish. Why eat them when they probably don’t taste that great, too small, and it’s the law? Also, better to release so they can be caught again!

Anyways, there is a tactic in catching these Graylings an easier, smart way than to go blindly and stupidly hard charge it. The method to this fishing madness is to throw bait (such as worms, maggots, corn) into the water to entice the fish to feed on them while having a hook with that same bait in the water. By letting the current do the work of dispersing the bait around, this also makes it a natural presentation to the fish that by having my own hooked bait the fish is very likely to take in my hook and line. Of course, I can’t exactly see underwater even with my polarized sunglasses so it’s necessary to have a striker indicator or bobber to watch when the fish take it so I can quickly set the hook.

side scroll view of fishing fisherman bank of the river mud

Here’s a view of what I look like on the side of the river.

throwing bait chuming waters water maggots gusanos

I’m throwing maggots in the river to get the fish eventually interested in my own hooked bait.

catching landing in net brown trout brownie fish

In addition to the few Graylings, the Brown Trout were in full force at this river often outracing the Graylings to eat the maggots thrown in the river and this also included my own hooked bait.

It takes some getting used as the line is very light but as in all fishing, once you get the method and technique down, you can hook and catch your own fish like I finally did with the Grayling!

grayling UK europe european fishing angling fisherman nature river creek freshwater

After catching all sorts of smaller fish along with a few bigger Brown Trout, I finally hook and land my first Grayling! This wasn’t my first Grayling I hooked but I was glad to finally knock one fish off the bucket list!

grayling up close held by fisherman

My first ever Grayling, after a lot of other fish before getting the targeted fish species. Not super big but good enough to be the first ever. These fish squirm so much that they twist not only in the fight but also when being held in human hands. Notice the top back fin being totally different from other regular fish.

Overall, a fun time catching so many fish on this day and crossing that bucket list item off!