Over the last month river levels have continued to drop despite some rain and they are expected to continue dropping for another month, until the rain finally gets through the aquifers. At the moment the river is lower than I’ve ever seen it in the last 30 years: this despite having record high water over the winter.

These atypical conditions are making fishing very challenging. Dying Ranunculus and algal growth on the gravels are making it very hard to find the grayling, which are normally clearly visible against the usually clean white gravel. Furthermore, the sluggish flows are making it essential for the angler to apply his or her own subtle movements to their nymphs/bugs in order to entice the grayling to feed as they too are rather sluggish since they are not having to expend any energy swimming against the flow.
Despite these adverse conditions a few very big grayling have been recently caught from Mulberry Whin and neighbouring beats, several over 3 lb!

If you decide to accept the challenge be prepared for a lot of searching and possible frustration. A few weeks ago I spent over an hour trying to tempt a huge grayling, but only got it to look at my fly twice. The deep runs and bends are the best places to search, particularly if there is a bit of flow. Blind, search fishing may be required if you can’t see any fish but this can be pretty unproductive and hard work. The only plus is that there is a real chance of a personal best grayling if you do tempt one.

Invertebrate sampling shows that the only abundant food source at the moment is Gammarus, so a shrimp pattern is probably the best choice of fly, but be prepared to try a range of flies if you find fish but are unable to get them interested in a shrimp.

Dave Southall

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