It's been an ambition. No scrub that. It has been a crusade, a passion, a destiny and even a reverie to encounter my first Grayling.
At first my vision was hazy, fuzzy, distant and romantic. It would be special, of that I was certain. I would study and research my quarry. I would be thorough and meticulous in my quest. Much to my wife's dismay it would inevitably involve new much needed equipment. Many more packages in the post, more dilemmas and much, much more frustration and patience.
Though no fault of my own, my journey would encounter adversity in it's many forms. Bad weather, ill health both my own and my good lady, family members old and new and work secondments. All would play a part in not just frustrating but also driving an unknown quality in me. Patience.
And as with most of us with a piscatorial passion, frustration and patience are inevitable. They are both valuable lessons in our many tireless crusades to pit our wits against our quarry. Frustration being the earliest and easiest in our angling education. And of patience? Well that takes somewhat longer to learn and is much more difficult to master.
I can hardly proclaim to be anything but a learned scholar in that lesson, the proverbial Job I am not.
But I have found the answer to patience, a holy grail if you will. Something to ensure patience an easier and less tiresome teaching. But more about that another time!
As the short prayer goes, "Lord, grant me patience... but hurry!"
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
At first I romanticized that my first encounter would occur on a befitting somewhat regal and elegant location. A southern chalk stream like the River Test or the Itchen perhaps.
I made some inquiries, looked at dates in my diary and investigated accommodation, specific fisheries and beats. Even to go as far as reading catch reports. Then I looked at the cost. Then after sharing my findings with my wife, I was 'told' to keep looking or perhaps sell my organs for medical research and she would assist me with the operation 'gratis'. Love knows no bounds. I kept looking.
Almost a year later I spent a fruitless few hours on the River Wye trying to tempt an early summer Grayling with maggot and feeder one afternoon. After procuring my first few Barbel that very morning it might be a tall order but hey, you never know. In it to win it! I achieved what I set out for so I was hardly despondent. And with a different stretch in a different season it may yet be an unwritten encounter.
A well researched and meticulously planned family holiday some eleven months later, saw my next crusade trying to draw my quarry from the River Eden in Cumbria. The cottage by the river was spectacular and my first experience of actually fishing in the water itself was to open an exciting chapter in my angling. Catching small wild browns was fun and being water borne put me somehow closer still to all that angling offers.
The Grayling though, whether it was my own ineptitude or perhaps a little too early for them, proved elusive yet again. Although I did foul hook a Grayling fry in the shallows whilst untangling the mother of all line tangles when my reel parted company with my rod. Inspecting that inch long fry did nothing but add fuel to my already burning desire.
An invite to fish a southern chalk stream for Grayling eighteen months ago was too good an opportunity to pass up. The wait for the winter was spent gathering information and selecting yet more tools in my armoury.
And then it started raining in biblical proportions. The river burst its banks. And it kept on raining. The chance was lost and the season went. Always next year...
A YEAR LATER...
I've waited and I've waited.
The thing I've noticed about waiting a year to catch a Grayling is, the first six months are the worst. After that things go into a bit of a decline.
Sure the menial tasks still fill the void, the grass still needs mowing through the summer. Work and family commitments help to focus on more current intentions. Bills are persistent in dropping on the ironically monogrammed 'welcome' mat from the aluminum portal of doom.
The other thing I've noticed is time slows towards the last few weeks to a painstaking crawl, nerves are on edge fretting about the weather forecasts, organizing gear, pinpointing a weekend and booking accommodation. Emails and phone calls whizzing to and fro. It will have been worth it tho. Wouldn't it?
My weapons were loaded into the chariot and off I went, following the setting sun...
To be continued.