I’ve always liked grilse. The way that even a 3lb grilse (ie a small one) ‘counts’ as a salmon (it is a sexually mature fish). And grilse have often saved the day or week’s fishing for me and I love’em for that.
I make the observation because the fish close-up on the header of my (drumroll) salmon adventure here – is a grilse. It did occur to me whether I shouldn’t instead have a decent sized ‘low-double’ (I never seem to catch salmon bigger than that but that’s another story!) instead.
But I put it up there because it’s a decent photo taken on a hi-res camera by Norwegian Flyfishers Club’s Thies Reimers. It’s also good that we were able to slip the fish back into the waters of the Gaula straight afterwards.
I always like Charlie White of Roxtons’ comment aimed towards those who point out that the salmon running the River Varzuga tend to be smaller fish – well smaller, that is, than the 30- and even 40-pounders of the north Kola rivers. Charlie said: “It can be good fun catching 12lb grilse.” Actually Brian Fratel caught a 19lber during our first week of the season on that river this year and bigger fish were caught on upper river beats around the Pana area in subsequent weeks.
And back to those Gaula grilse – NFC chairman Manfred Raguse told me how incredibly unlikely the run of four grilse was – “Henry, it would be much easier for you to hook a medium sized or a very big salmon.” Hmm, how to respond to that but it’s true: the 2011 Gaula season showed a tiny grilse run in relative terms with a rod catch of 52 per cent large fish over 7 kg/ 15 ½ lb; 44 per cent medium sized salmon and the grilse class of 2011 – of which our little chap on the header above formed part – was only 3.3 per cent.