Monday, November 25, 2013

The Mysterious Case of Vanishing Grayling

For closing of the 2013 seasion I decided to visit the river Střela, which holds a special place in my fishing heart. This is the river on which I discovered the grayling as a game fish years ago and where I smelled my hand after releasing a fish for the first time to discover that peculiar thyme odour.

I was unable to visit the river for some time, but as I had intimate knowledge of the stream from the past I soon recognized familiar pools and started fishing with fly patterns I expected to be of liking to the local fish - I remembered that gold ribbed hare's ear nymph with a tip of orange and a smallish pink gammarus were particullary effective.


To my surprise these known grayling magnets produced: exactly nothing. I was unable to convince a single grayling, despite the fact of catching a number of off season brown trout. The occasional brownie was sort of expected, but the total absence of grayling was puzzling me deeply.

After persevering for some time I proceeded to catch a couple more brownies, but the grayling remained conspicious by their absenece.


I did not wish to disturb the brownies - who by the look of their mating colors had obviously other things on their mind - too much and as no grayling seemed to be in sight I retired home early.

Still puzzled after cutting my last season's outing short I made some inquiries on the health of the local grayling population. My fears were confirmed by a local friend, who confirmed that the grayling have indeed vanished from upper Střela following heavy floods. Their absence was confirmed by electrofishing. Their disappereance could not be even traced to the cormorants, as is the case with some other Czech rivers suffering decline in fish numbers - the Grayling simply were there in the winter and were gone after the spring floods.

As I have very fond memories of fishing this river as a young novice of the dark art of Grayling fishing I sincerely hope that this fish, being short lived species with good population dynamics, recovers from this setback and returns to the river where they were once flourishing.