Once the Atlantic salmon season comes to a natural conclusion at the Fly Fishing Centre, full focus turns towards fishing for our resident population of grayling on the River Teviot. Although very much weather dependant, the winter months of December and January can offer some excellent fishing for these stunning fish. To share last December’s grayling experience, I asked over my great LOOP friends Emilie Bjorkman and Stefan Ågren from Sweden to join expert grayling angler and Tweed biologist, Kenny Galt for a few days on our Sunlaws beat of the river.
As mentioned, conditions are all in grayling fishing and the previous week had seen water levels peak at 13ft due to torrential rain and any chance of good fishing looked fated. Thankfully low night time air temperatures and hard frosts came to our rescue and over a period of five days prior to our trip, water levels fell dramatically. Winter fishing on the Teviot is not for the faint-hearted and we were battered with hard winds from a prevailing westerly direction. Thankfully LOOP Wool base and mid layers excelled under our Rautas and Lainio wading jackets and the biting temperatures were kept at bay. The key to catching these fish during the colder months of the season is to fish a team of artificial bugs off the river bottom in close quarter fishing. We set up a combination of Evotec and Cross S1 rods in the lighter classification of #3 and #4 weights, all partnered with our favourite grayling reel, the Opti Dry Fly.
With these fish being predominately bottom feeders on nymphs, caddis larvae and I’m afraid to say, salmon eggs, the fishing technique is close quarters. Emilie and Stefan are very good dry fly grayling anglers. but fishing teams of weighted bugs, whilst waist-deep in a cold winter river, was certainly a new experience for them. Under Kenny’s tutelage, both anglers soon adapted to what is essentially casting the flies well upstream, high-sticking the rods and getting the bugs bouncing on the bottom. Kenny offered our Scandinavian friends some solid advice. He said ‘If the flies are fishing 12 inch above the river bottom, they’re 12 inches to high!’ Then the fish began to take. Grayling Land is a short film about a great few days on the River Teviot in excellent company. As well as trying to outsmart the fish, having to endure the deep water wading and bitter winter weather made each grayling landed just that little bit more special.