At the Settle Anglers’ Association annual dinner Chairman Mike Harding asked me if I would take him on the River Ribble for a few hours to get him up to speed with long trotting techniques for grayling.

Mike is of course well known as a singer, comedian, author and BBC Radio 2 presenter, less well known is the fact that Mike is a mad keen fly fisher and spends much of his spare time fly fishing in the Yorkshire Dales and Ireland.  In 2009 he published a book “A Guide to North Country Flies and How to tie them”.

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We picked the 3rd March for our day out and it turned out to be a perfect day, warm with sunshine and the river was also in fine order for long trotting carrying around 6 or 7 inches of extra water.  Mike had already fixed himself up with a trotting rod and centre pin reel both of which were ideal for the job, his small selection of floats were overall less suitable!

After spending some time on the basics of tackle, setting up etc. Mike got fishing and was straight into fish albeit out of season brown trout.  He ended the day with I think, (I don’t count), eight fish landed and many more lost or missed.  No grayling were caught but he lost two fish in the first pool we fished which may have been small grayling from the brief glimpse we had of them before they came off.

Mike did very well overall and picked up the technique well and would have had many more fish had he not been a little tentative and on occasions slow with his striking, a very common problem with people learning to long trot.

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What was encouraging was the number of trout he connected with, for the last 2 seasons Settle AA have had a non-stocking policy and have had an ongoing programme of habitat improvement work to encourage the recruitment of wild fish.  Well from what Mike and I saw it certainly seems to be working, every power to their elbow!