There are times when I curse the cold damp winter and the long nights. Yet there are other times when I relish those chill days and nights beside the water for there is a certain ambient charm to times spent beside winter waters.
Clovelly’s stony harbour wall has undoubtedly stood strong against many a winter storm protecting the quaint fishing village from the roaring maelstrom that sometimes pounds the shore. On this night half a dozen of us fished from the structure’ no storm tonight; the home lights reflecting in the harbour and the sound of drunken merriment drifting through the night air from the Red Lion.
Rod tips nodded frequently as whiting, dabs and the inevitable dogfish tugged at the baits cast out onto the sand. Fishy tales were swapped and banter flowed. A large conger hooked and lost added to the drama of the night. A story that will undoubtedly be repeated again on may more winter nights for years to come.
We retired to the harbour pub; The Red Lions Snug bar, the head of a mighty shark displayed above the bar. A roaring log fire warmed the room as a huddle of smelly anglers entered to quench their thirst and split the competition winnings.
Next morning I am casting into Jenny Wren Trout Lake at Simpsons Valley Fishery. Round two of Wistlandpound Fly- Fishing Clubs Winter Challenge Match.
I arrive last still a little tired from last nights extended fishing at Clovelly. As I arrive rods are already bending to the pull of rainbow trout.
I set up half way along the Lake and cast out allowing the damsel nymph to sink before beginning a slow retrieve. On the second cast I feel that delightful tightening of the line, this is followed by the thrill of a bent rod and the to and fro-ing of line through the rod rings. The trout is in superb condition its flanks decorated with black patterns and shades of many colours and hues that are difficult capture in words.
Church bells ring out from a nearby church tower a quintessential sound of England. The leafless trees reflect on the mirror calm water and morning sunshine brings a pleasing glow to the countryside. It’s a perfect mornings fishing with the four trout that complete my limit bag taking a little of two hours to catch.
After completing my bag I take a walk around the complex with Club secretary Nigel Bird and enthusiastic club member Andre. The dark winter waters are beguiling and will undoubtedly require further visits. Upper Fuzzy appears to be most mature of the lakes and I can imagine a crimson-topped float waiting to dip beneath the surface as a pike intercepts the dead bait beneath the water. The shallows will surely be a great place to stalk carp on summers evening!
Back at the fishing hut we exchange stories and plan future forays to new waters whilst we await the capture of the day’s last trout.
As autumn descends into Winter I dread it’s coming yet on days like these I savour the winter season. Spring is just around the corner the days are lengthening the anti-climax of Christmas is but a memory. As an angler I have grown to love the seasons and the variety they bring.