My previous visit to Latimer Park Fishery had been on a balmy June day, when as a guest of friend Peter, we had enjoyed a day catching big rainbow trout on surface Mayflies. I was back again as his guest, but now it was the last week of November and a chill wind was blowing down the valley as we tackled up at the club house. Several members were already fishing, but none had caught so far, as we walked down to the dam end, where deeper water offered the prospect of feeding trout.
Tying on a black buzzer with my line greased to within two feet of the fly, I cast to the where the shallows drop away into the original Chess river valley and watched as the wind drifted the line round. A steady movement of the leader was met by a raised rod and a fish on. First cast! This was not lost on the other anglers, who had not seen a take all morning and I took care not to force the fish in and chance losing it. I’ve not caught a Latimer trout that didn’t put up a good show and this was no exception, the rainbow diving away every time it came close, but a final heave on the rod, brought the beaten fish over the net and onto the bank.
Not the prettiest rainbow in the lake, but the club rules state that the first fish of the day must be killed, so this two pounder paid the ultimate price. On any day, seven fish can be caught between a member and his guest, three fish taken, the first and last, plus another. With many rainbows and all browns returned, members tend to get their fish in as quickly as possible, to allow returned fish to recover. Peter came up to see my prize and what I’d used to catch it. For me this was beginner’s luck and my buzzer failed to attract another take.
The wind soon picked up, the temperature dropped with it and the rain began to fall. Not much fun for me, but the sight of an angler huddled over his rod in one of the few prized boats, made me glad to be on dry land. A call got my attention; Peter was playing a good fish. Now with an excuse to warm up with a walk, I pulled my rod in and went to pick his brains, arriving just as he netted it. A truly beautiful rainbow of over two pounds was on the bank, a bloodworm fly in it’s jaw.
Peter’s method was to fish this under a tuft of sight indicator yarn, striking when it disappeared. With foam indicators from one of my American visits, I scrounged a bloodworm fly and went back to try my luck, Peter playing another trout before I’d tied on the magic fly. This time a small brown, one of the indigenous Chess trout. It certainly worked, keeping the bloodworm in view above the fish as it drifted round in the wind. In the ripple I lost sight of my purple indicator, only to feel the line speeding through my fingers. Missed it. A couple more bobs, or drags, followed by swirls as I failed to make contact. Time to go back and scrounge some of his indicator yarn, which floated high on the surface aided by Water Shed floatant. As I arrived, the indicator shot under and he was in again. No one else was catching and I was surprised that they were doggedly sticking to their own methods.
I’m not proud and was soon casting the more visible yarn out towards the middle of the lake, where the occasional trout was rising, to what I have no idea, but it gave a focus and hope on a freezing day. Kept warm by supplies of sweet, hot tea from the clubhouse, I persisted in my efforts to hook another trout. The yarn disappeared, or skated across the surface many more times, but despite delaying the strike, instant response, or just plain leaving it, I couldn’t connect. Peter was having the same trouble, but managed to hook and land another two, stopping to let me catch the last fish. Soon we were the only anglers still fishing, one by one the members had left the lakeside, some with fish, most without. Despite still getting takes, with the cold finally getting right down into the core of my body and Peter even having trouble gripping his landing net, we gave up on that last fish and retreated to the clubhouse, where a woodburner was raging away. After more tea and with blood back in our veins, we left this little haven long before closing time, heading back to the motorway traffic, enjoying the luxury of the heated seats in Peter’s car.