Well the weather has finally settled, for how long I'm not too sure, however I spent some time drawing up a shortlist of waters that would be less affected by the torrential rain, making a list of seven different waters, both river and canal. I really have not done much canal fishing and that is something I would love to remedy during this winter and again in spring, with the odd overnighter tracking down some of the elusive Carp, with just a small amount of fishing equipment and stars for comfort.
But back to the here and now, one of the waters I had added to my list was looking rather good for a spot of winter fishing and it was a very frosty morning, the kind that pierces your lungs as you breath in and nose begins to run in earnest.
As I made my way to the river, the sun was slowly appearing through the treeline on the opposite bank, a bright, blazing, ball of orange. A fine mist was rising from the rivers surface and the Blackwater looked wonderful, the riverbank and nearby bushes laced with frost, almost like a dusting of icing sugar, a pair of Deer spotted me and made a dash, covering many yards with leaps and bounds in seconds, before disappearing in the hedgerow.
As I passed by one of the swims, the swans were having an early morning feed, tails up, feet wiggling in the air as they balanced themselves. As anglers we get to see a lot of wildlife that not everyone else does, our own little world if you like and that is something that is so very special.
I decided to try my luck in an area where the river arcs round in a bend, the current spiralling back on itself here and complimented by a nice steady depth, I had the choice of the ever faithful cheesepaste and maggot along with lobworms, filling the cage feeder with a light amount of liquidized bread, maggots and casters, deciding to start with maggots and chop and change as the day went on, the swim was very quiet, it looked good for a fish or two and I was very tempted to remain here and wait a while longer, on looking at my watch I realised that I had spent a good hour here, thirty minutes longer than I had promised myself.
I made my way downstream, this little waterway twisting and turning, shallows with tired looking weedbeds wafting about in the current, giving way to bottlenecks, before slightly widening again, tiny amounts of bankside coverage and a lovely looking crease on the far bank. I just had to have a cast, there was a fair bit of debris coming down, bits of weed and leaves collecting on the line every so often, making the quiver nod solemnly back and forth,
I was reaching my time limit in this swim when the rod tip plucked and suddenly jerked into life, I was met by a very lively scrap from a well conditioned Chub of 4lb, after a few steady sprints it was sat recuperating in the net. This fish looked resplendent in the winter sun, after a couple of photos I watched it swim away, drifting off into the main current, its grey back eventually fading from view.
One of the things that I particularly love about this time of year, is how so many more spots become available, areas that were simply not accessible during summer, it creates an added dimension and in many ways almost creating a whole new river. I was kept company by a lot of wildlife during the day, not least of all by a Wagtail, which kept me amused as it picked its way across the field in a rather eccentric manner.
I made my way to the end of the field, another spot that had been too dense with weed to fish in summer was open and beckoning, I decided to cast downstream to a near margin bay which looked a likely spot for a fish or two to lay up in. By now the sun was well and truly out and at its zenith for this time of year, not a lot of strength to it, but enough to warm my cold toes and defrost the ice which had been forming in the eyes of my rod.
The setting peaceful, far and away from the drone of Christmas commercialism and human traffic that goes with it. Sipping on my coffee I kept hearing a wheezy peewit, eventually spotting a Lapwing walking about in the opposite field.
This spot remained silent, maybe the fish weren't at home today, however I had seen them in summer, regularly drifting in and out of the weed beds, I stole a look at my watch, it told me I should perhaps move back upstream and try another likely swim, this too was one which I could not fish during summer, due to the amount of weed choking the area, a very intimate spot with tree boughs covered with flotsam, dipping across the river, a banker swim if ever there was one.
My first cast resulted in a few subtle taps but nothing more, I was in two minds to sit on my hands and wait or cast again and a bit closer to the flotsam, I decided on the latter, the cast just skimming under the skeletal tendrils of the tree, landing nicely next to the debris strewn bough, I waited and watched, the air filled with an odd feeling of certainty and expectance.
Pluck, tap, the rod tip then fell motionless, I had seen this kind of bite before, very cagey and usually make or break, but the sign of a better stamp of fish, the image of a wily, grey lipped veteran mouthing my bait before winking and vacating the swim entered my mind, I gave a wry smile.
All of a sudden the rod bent round at a 90 degree angle, I struck, at first nothing moved, then a surge of energy was felt, followed by a thud as the fish moved into the main current, the rod was well and truly bent, fish with its head down and trying to make for the tree bough and other underwater snags. The rod absorbed the lunges it made, I could feel some grating and by now you could cut the air with a defibrillator, I applied more pressure, wincing at the thought of the hook pulling, just hoping the Kamasan size 14 was holding fast and true in that cavernous mouth.
Eventually and after a very exciting fight, a chunky, broad backed fish was in the net, on lifting it, I said to myself, "that has to be a Blackwater five pounder".
I made my way to my final spot, another debris strewn swim, with a heap of weed on the opposite bank.
As I cast, I could see the forecasted fog rolling in, slowly enclosing me, my thoughts were elsewhere, somewhere back at that last swim, replaying the fight and holding that fish, over and over again. As I packed up, thoughts of that fish were going back and forth in my mind. It had been a lovely day, with every ingredient an angler could wish for, all coming together as one, from the wonderful backdrop and wildlife, to the fishing.