The Grayling Society - River Nadder Teffont Fishing Club
The Grayling Society
I joined The Grayling Society back in February while at the British Fly Fair International and happened across their stall where after a short intro I decided to sign up and walked away with a free Grayling print as a sweetener. The Grayling Society was formed in 1977 with the aim to conserve and establish the Grayling as a true, wild, game fish. Over the years Grayling have been marginalised by the trout fishing elite, annual culls of Grayling populations in English rivers was commonplace. Even the late, great Frank Sawyer initially viewed Grayling as vermin that needed to be controlled to allow the Trout to thrive, but over time he came to love them and was one of the early proponents of the wet nymphing method which we predominantly use to catch them in recent years. From very modest beginnings, the Society has grown to over 900 members in a total of 18 countries around the World, with Overseas Secretaries in Europe, Scandinavia and America. The Society aims to increase awareness, assist conservation and promote angling. This is achieved through regional networks that are run by Society representatives and offer opportunities to fish unique, exclusive and diverse waters across the UK - a map of the regional areas can be found here.
Teffont Fishing Club
My regional representative Alex Adams sent out a call for anglers to fish a stretch of the River Nadder run by the Teffont Fishing Club, and given that i live nearby I relished the opportunity to cast a line as one of the first to seriously fish for Grayling for many years. The Club has 6 miles of river split into 4 beats, it offers a wide range of variety with Beat 4 more akin to the Upper Avon, fairly straight with long riffly glides and deeper holes on the infrequent bends. On the other side Beats 1&2 offer some challenging 'combat fishing', over hanging trees, narrow streams and bends, twists and turns - a real stalking anglers paradise. We met up in the morning and were greeted by the Keeper and Club Secretary who were both vary helpful and accommodating. After drawing lots I was awarded a morning session on Beat 4 and afternoon on 1&2. After an initial chat we got kitted up and guided over to the parking areas where we dispersed to attack the river. The river was running low but a little coloured, I opted for a klink & dink / New Zealand / dry dropper approach, with a Hares Ear Klinkhammer on the top and connected a size 16 PTN with pink bead to 15 inches of 3lb fluourocarbon. Under the advice on the Keeper I went with a short 7'6" Orvis Clearwater 3wt to tackle the tighter areas - I was glad of this decision in the afternoon.
Beat 4 didn’t disappoint after I realised that the drab flies I had initially selected were not being picked out easily in the coloured water so I tied on some Grayling bling. After missing the first 4 takes I zoned in on the Grayling and started putting a couple in the net after targeting the knee high riffles which remained the most productive areas through the day. The bites were generally fast, likely to be very small fish rather than shy biters given the paucity of club anglers enjoying late season sport. I finished the session on a slow, deep canal type bit of water, hoping for it to maybe hold some bigger fish and after covering a rising fish hooked into something that took a couple of yards off the reel, could this be a 2lb+ Grayling I thought, but alas, it was an overwintered stockie of just under 3lb - he obviously didn’t get the memo. We met back with the rest of the team for lunch, it seemed everyone had enjoyed their morning, a good number Grayling up to 1lb had been caught and a fair few unintentional wild Brownies which is a testament to the quality of the ecosystem. Despite the constraints of social distancing it was nice to have a bite to eat and converse with the other members who had travelled from all over and all had different experiences, another benefit of joining the Society.
The next stop was Beat 1&2, this was indeed a different challenge. The river was narrow with undercut banks created by the twisting turns. It was wild and claustrophobic at points - a perfect wild fish habitat. I jumped straight into the river and after 20mins hadn't touched a thing and realised it required a different approach. I'd love this to eb the point where I describe the new method that went on to catch a bucket of fish, but alas it wasn't to be, I was left scratching my head instead. The water looked perfect, a bit of everything and I switched between dry dropper, French leader and long light nymph setups but apart from bumping a couple off and some lightning fast bites I couldn't get anything in the net. Accordingly I called it a day by 4 o'clock. I never wish a bad days fishing on anyone but I was pleased to hear my beat partner had only caught one Grayling on this occasion. But like me he had enjoyed the fishing and agreed that there was a good head of fish but we just couldn't crack them on this stretch.
I must say that Teffont Fishing Club is an absolute gem, well run, maintained and welcoming people. The club has limited membership to only 50 people which helps preserve the quality of the angling. They plan to only stock a small proportion of the stretch, allowing people to catch and kill as required while maintaining the naturalised wild fish to thrive elsewhere. They are currently looking for new members, details on the club and how to join can be found here. Likewise, The Grayling Society is an excellent organisation, the money raised from this day with the Teffont club will help fund work by the Wild Trout Trust helping to conserve and increase stocks of wild Trout across the UK.
Why not take a look at The Grayling Society and see what they have to offer and join here.
Interested in joining the Teffont Fishing Club? Join here.