Tuesday 23rd February, 16:00 - 18:00. Upper Warks Avon. Sleet and snow with 13mph easterly wind. 3C upon arrival 1C departure.
15:00 Leave work walking past my mate Pete who looks out of the large office windows at the horizontal snow then back at me and shakes his head slowly in disbelief. Pete's new rule is not to go fishing unless it's 6C or above.
15:30 Park up at the bottom of Ryton village after driving through heavy sleet and snow from work. Change in the car from mild-mannered IT developer into 'Fishing Man' - two pairs of long Johns, three base layers, two fleeces, huge winter waterproof coat, beanie hat, thermal wellie inserts and thigh waders. Unload my fishing gear which was readied last night.
15:40 Find a fallen tree blocking the path to the river. Unload fishing gear and move tree from path using super human abilities. Take off woolly hat as now rather warm. Notice puddles on floor.
15:45 Have I ever mentioned the wooden footbridge before? It's in the distance in the photo below. The path to it is covered by water.
15:47 I decide that mere water is not enough to halt my progress and carefully wade over the bridge using my bankstick as a wading staff. The water comes above knee line on my waders and given it's currently snowing I call off plan A and retreat to the car. If the water rose any more I would need more than thigh waders to get back safely.
16:00 I drive up to the top of the village to an alternative entrance to the club water. By this time though I've done a bit of walking whilst fully togged up and so am starting to feel the heat.
I sit in the car for ten minutes contemplating my options. Waspo? Too far. Ryton? Too cold. Organic Gardens stretch? No handy high water pegs and too far to walk.
School children walk past the car from their school bus and I pretend to read my map as the weather has taken a turn for the worse and even I realise that starting fishing in this is madness.
I eventually make it out of the car and load up my gear as an old boy walks past and comments on my mental state.
16:00 Walk ten minutes over sodden ground in the driving sleet to the swollen rivers edge. There are no less than four gates to overcome with tackle. I am now boiling hot.
I walk up and down the river sans-tackle and select a semi-fishable run on an inside bend.
16:20 Fishing now but uncomfortable as the trek has upset my hypothalamus. Like my tackle my clothing was selected for longevity in the cold and not traipsing long distances across fields. The stiff wind proves to be a facer on this part of the river and it carries sleet and snow with it.
16:45 I see a fox try to ambush a coot roosting in the reeds on the far bank. The coot takes flight and the fox bounds after it, falling short of it's prey when it skitters over the water. The fox first hears then sees me when I reach for my camera and is gone across the golf course before I can take a photo.
17:15 I see a kingfisher blast upstream. My tip is showing some signs of movement but it's soft movement, the sort brought on by the force of the current against the line rather than that signifying connection with the other realm.
17:45 My brolly is blown fully inside out whilst rebaiting. Why do things like this always happen when your hands are occupied?
18:00 Now slightly delirious and biteless I am loudly exclaiming profanities in a thick French accent. Probably some dim and distant subconscious reference to Monty Python, but it passes the time.
18:05 Enough! I don't mind high water but it's the facing wind carrying the icy weather which is proving too much tonight. Fred .J Taylor's, "I'll be glad when I've had enough of this", was never so apt.
18:15 Guinness in the Malt Shovel and someone has brought their beautiful pet Barn Owl in for a pint. I wonder if it realises how lucky it is to be warming it's feathers indoors whilst it's brethren chase mice amongst the slush. It's tough out there at the moment.
I'm salmon fishing in less than a month and this morning the Scottish Dee was reportedly frozen over in places after overnight temperatures of -12C. Last weeks fishing was all but a wipe out with grue killing all sport. Grue is where ice crystals form in the water when the temperature nears zero, forming a slush puppy of a river. If the temperature rises too sharply next month then the snow covered mountain tops will be in the river all at once and a river in full spate is bad news for fishing. I'm hoping for a gentle warming from here on in to bring a run of fish into the river.