There can be no mistaking the grayling, otherwise known as ‘the lady of the stream’. It can be identified by its smell as well as its looks!
They prefer to live in swift-flowing streams running over gravel or sand, but it will live happily in large rivers too. It is fairly widespread in Scotland and north England, also within the many chalk streams of southern England. Grayling are really widespread in Welsh rivers.
Although the grayling is widespread in Europe, there are none in Ireland.
The average weight of a grayling is around the 10oz mark, but given ideal circumstances and a plentiful food supply they will reach weights in excess of 3lb 8oz.
There are two ways to identify a grayling – by looking at it, and by smelling it! Grayling smell quite strongly of the herb thyme, hence the Latin description.
They are quite lean and slender fish having an extremely large dorsal fin for their overall size. The scales are very small and have dark edges.
The back of the grayling is either dark grey or a pewter colour, which merges to off white/silver flanks. The underside is white.
Grayling feed upon crustaceans, insect larvae, small fish and molluscs. They also adore fish eggs which, in the main are yellow, and that’s why one of the best baits you can use to catch a grayling is a grain of sweetcorn.
Other great baits to use to tempt a grayling are red or white maggots and fly tackle – the most ‘accepted’ technique.
Grayling breed during the early weeks of spring where they seek out gravelly bottoms. They lay a multitude of eggs which take around 20-25 days to hatch.