I mixed up some sweetcorn and ground bait mash to feed the swim then trotted through it to see if the grayling would oblige. I know where they can be found so I wasn't worried about the location. Finding them is one thing but would they play ball.
The short answer is no they didn't, I tried a few swims, ran maggots and corn through at different depths - tripping the bottom, holding back but nothing showed any interest. I decided that at 4:30pm I would call it a day and head to a perch swim I know of. But before I did, I tried dropping a worm into a small slack/eddie that I'd just discovered. This didn't produce any signs and after only a few minutes I abandoned it but made a mental note for future. I was too eager to get to the spot up stream where there would be a better chance, I hoped.
At the perch swim it was still as I remembered from two years ago when I first spotted some big perch here and I soon had a dropper load of chopped worm in position, hopefully drawing the fish from under the small snag downstream. My simple rig consisted if a link ledger with two swan shot and a juicy fat worm hooked through the head, cast into the slack. I positioned the rod on the rest and waited for an indication. First the tip trembled a bit, then small bites started to come but were short, sharp taps and pretty un-hittable. I wondered if these were from small fish pecking at the worm?
Soon one tap became a stronger pull and I hit it, but the rig just flew toward me minus the worm. This happened a couple more times, but I was still encouraged that at least the fish were not being spooked by the activity. After missing about four of these bites, the worm deftly robbed each time, I started to wish I had set up a float instead, thinking this would have given me a better chance of connecting up with them.
I decided to try just half a worm instead, hooked through the cut end. I cast it into the spot and waited. A couple walking their dog caught my attention on the far bank, the woman was wearing a bright red coat that contrasted drastically against the green background of the fields, which must have broken my intense concentration and my attention, ( it's funny what makes you look away from the tip !). Snapping my mind back to the task at hand, I looked back to the tip just in time to see it pull down enough for a strike, again I hit the take and the rod hooped round.
I assumed it would be a jack pike from the resistance I felt, and then a fish surfaced. In that split second I didn't see it clearly enough to confirm, but then I started to feel a familiar jag, jag, jag sensation. "This ain't no pike" I thought. The fish pulled hard for the bottom but I drew it up to the surface again. The perch was big, I could see that, but I wasn't allowing any panic to set in yet.
Meanwhile the dog walkers had stopped to watch... great an audience, no pressure then !! The fish came up again and the net was ready, I drew it closer "don't come off, please " I repeated in my head, gradually she neared the edge then flopped over the rim into the net, and was mine.
I showed it to the spectators across the river, to get rid of them really so I could concentrate on sorting it out and allow myself a small whoop of joy !
The fish was weighed and managed to go 2lb 12 oz on the scales, despite me willing them round to the magic three, it just wouldn't quite reach that far. Of course I am still over the moon, and a new PB was finally realised displayed in vivid colours in my hands.
Here's a few indulgent pictures (well it is a new PB after all, and one I've been trying to break for a good while)