Catching big grayling - Matt Jackson

I've never targeted grayling before now, for one reason or another there has always been something or other that has taken my attention elsewhere.

I've had a few small ones to probably a pound and a half on days just trotting for bites but never managed one of the beautiful purply blue sailfish-like creatures that they turn into once they grow into that specimen size. They also seem to be one fish that whatever the weather will continue to feed regardless.

With conditions being a little on the tough side I decided that it was a perfect opportunity to get out and have a go for a new target. Obviously the ultimate goal would be a three-pounder but for the first trip, I set out with the mindset that I would be happy if I could break the 2lb barrier.

Being fortunate enough to live in the Avon valley I can easily access a few different chalk streams that hold the intended quarry at the size I was after, so it was more of a case of choosing one that was in the best condition on the day.

Arriving at the river at first light, it was running nice and clear and was at the perfect level. On the downside, the wind was blowing a gale of a northerly and was going to make float control very difficult.

I set the float rod up with an eight-gram float on 4lb mainline attached to a micro swivel, with a 3lb hook link of around 12 inches and a size 16 hook. The shotting was set up with an olivette trapped on the mainline between the swivel and a float stop, with two No.8 droppers on the hook link. The 8g float was massively overgunned in the shallow water but was the only way of retaining any control at all in the wind.

I set out to fish with the intention of trotting through each likely looking run ten times before moving on and exploring a different area. Each trot would follow a small catapult of maggots and corn to hopefully grab the attention of any fish laying in wait.

Battling the wind was a tough task but by mid afternoon I'd notched up around 12 fish with a few between 1lb 8oz and 1lb 14oz. I had almost come to terms with the fact my 2lber would have to wait until another day when the float buried and I was into what felt like a much better fish.

A short while later and a few spectacular tail walks across the shallow gravel runs an incredible looking fish lay safely enclosed in my landing net mesh.

Being new to grayling fishing I got massively carried away and thought I'd caught a four-pounder, jumping around and laughing like a lunatic! I was definitely not disappointed when the scales read a weight of 2lb 14oz, elated in fact, but massively surprised at the sheer size of them for their weight.

With the day coming to an end I was more than happy with my first trip and couldn't wait to get out again.

The following week I got back to the same area with the plan of repeating how I'd fished the previous trip. The wind was a mere breeze this time so the float was scaled down to a four-gram version to present the bait with a little subtlety.

With so much more control over the float and many more runs fishable, the day went infinitely smoother that before and I managed around 20 fish landed, six breaking the 2lb barrier. With the best of the day going 2lb 11oz, I'd still not quite got the magic three but it was one of the most fun days fishing I've had the joy to experience.

I'm hoping to get another trip in before the end of the season, so fingers crossed my run of luck continues.