23/01/2023 - While the iron is hot...

This blog entry had started off with a bit of a political rant, but I just got wound up so deleted it! Suffice to say, as a public sector worker I will be soon joining the many, many people already on picket lines up and down the country after my union agreed on strike action this week. 

It's only the second time this has happened in my thirty years service, but as an organisation we have been under-resourced and under-paid for more than a decade now. At the end of the day, the vast majority of the people I work with are decent, hard-working individuals who just want to be paid a living wage and it's certainly sobering on Teams calls to see many colleagues, including managers, working at home wrapped up in fleeces, jumpers and coats. After all, none of us are in the position of being able to "accidentally" funnel millions into offshore accounts! However, whether the current government will take any notice, or actually care what's going on given their apparent complete disconnect with the general public is a different matter. 

Anyway, rant over (still managed to get a small one in!) and onto the fishing. If I was to take advantage of the continued settled, dry weather it had to be during a brief window of opportunity this morning as the rest of my week was otherwise committed with work. To maximise my available time I therefore headed off to my local River Derwent and whilst it was still a tad too high for my liking I was confident that I could winkle out a few grayling provided that I could find them. In contrast to Sunday the weather forecast correctly predicted a morning temperature of three degrees that felt positively balmy in comparison. It also meant that I didn't have to waste time scraping the van's windows. Turned out that the decision to take it out for a run after it had been standing for a while was probably the correct one as it only just turned over before spluttering into life. 

However, didn't take time for it to warm up and he was positively singing when I drove into an empty carpark a bit later. Crossed the footbridge to find the icy course that the river had taken when it burst its banks a week earlier was still visible in the fields, whilst the bankside bushes sported various items of urban flood debris. However, the river itself was nice and clear albeit a little pacey. The plan was to have dozen casts in each spot until I dropped on some fish, so headed upstream to my usually reliable starting point. The steps down to the peg were still partially submerged, but I managed to drop in without mishap and was soon running the float down off the rod tip. However, despite one small fish early on I was soon on the move. Unfortunately, subsequent spots were blank or yielded one or two fish at most and by the time I had worked my way back downstream I'd only had a handful of grayling to show for my efforts. 

It was therefore Sod's Law that I should drop on them in my final swim with less than an a hour's fishing left! Hadn't made it easy for myself either as the low sun was shining straight upstream into my face. However, squinting through the glare I saw the float disappear on the first run down. 

Added a baker's dozen from that swim alone before I unfortunately had to pack up, the sun now tempered by a stunning mackerel sky. Hadn't had anything massive, but it was nice to have a bit more sport on what had turned out to be a cracking morning.

21/01/2023 - Brave or stupid?!

First session of 2023 has been a little while coming. The fields near my house have been waterlogged for weeks providing a feast for the crows and magpies in the form of unfortunate drowned invertebrates. The drainage ditches have been brim full and running fast, sending the silt and nutrient-laden runoff down the hill and into the Trent, and the weather forecast has just seemed to be on repeat - another weather front sweeping across the country bringing yet more rain. 

At least it's re-filled the reservoirs so that people can have their sprinklers on their lawns again when we have another drought this summer! I suppose that I could have found a local tributary less affected by the floods and tried for an obliging chevin, but winter for me is about my favourite fish, the grayling. I was therefore almost ecstatic when I saw a period of cold, dry and settled weather coming over the horizon. It was just a question of whether the main rivers would fine down in time for the weekend. 

Levels were checked daily during the week and in the end it was the Dove that won the race with the Derwent, the latter still a little too high for trotting for my liking. A pint of maggots was duly purchased and the tackle readied for an early start. Whilst it was still just below freezing when I left Nottingham the clear, blue sky promised some sunshine and hopefully a bit of warmth later in the day. However, as soon as I joined the motorway and descended into the Trent valley I was enveloped by freezing fog and the temperature dropped a couple of degrees to minus three. Was still the same when I reached Tutbury and I began to doubt my sanity - firstly when my gloves stuck to the gate to the carpark and secondly when my car wheels scrabbled for grip on the ice as I crested the flood embankment! 

At least the river looked to be in good nick - running at a manageable level and with just a tinge of colour. Had a quick coffee, then got togged up in the neoprenes and put on as many outer layers as I could find in the car, then headed upstream in the gloom past bankside trees and vegetation covered in crystals of hoar frost. Made straight for my "banker" swim thinking that, given the conditions, if I was going to catch anywhere it would be there. Slid gracefully down into the river up to my knees, the cold shock thankfully buffered by 5 millimetres of rubber. Took a couple of casts to find the depth, but having wet the line I was immediately faced with the problem of the rod rings freezing up and had to dip the rod almost full length  into the river each cast to free them up.

After half an hour of this with no bites I was getting a bit fed up and the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans drifting over from the Nestle factory was only making me wish I was back home having breakfast. However, as the float was pushed towards the near bank by an eddy it promptly disappeared and I found my self connected to the first fish of the morning - a nice male grayling. Sent the float through the same area a few times adding a couple more and it seemed I'd found a group of fish willing to feed. A watery sun was now just visible over the trees and whilst it was doing absolutely nothing to raise the temperature or burn off the fog, I could now see the morning procession of dog walkers on the opposite bank instead of just listening to their shouts and dog whistles. 

One lady spotted me and stopped, shouting over "oooh, you're brave........or stupid!", then proceeded to take a photo of me on her phone, probably to amuse her friends with on Instagram later. Not that I cared, I was getting a few bites and carried on until I'd had a dozen grayling in the net, including another chunky male.

Decided that was enough to declare a victory against adversity and called a halt to proceedings. Had been in the river for two and a half hours and my feet were beginning to feel it. Clambered back up the bank and headed back to the car, pondering whether the tip would have been a better option on a day like this. Was still below freezing when I left, although the forecast was still optimistically saying bright sunshine.........which of course it was when I got back home!