Our first choice of venue, a little chalk stream was unavailable, as was our second - me and James had to put Plan C into action and headed to the River Itchen in search of grayling.
And we were both soon into the fish, no monsters but in some swims it was a fish a chuck - grayling, ever hungry trout and I also landed 2 roach including the ugliest fish in the Itchen!
By lunch time we'd bagged up, James had even tempted a nice roach - I always seem to be the photographer when James and roach are concerned!
And as a bonus while trying to find a Greggs for lunch we stumbled upon a Thai pop-up kitchen - Chicken Phad Thai - lovely.
The afternoon was much the same, the fish kept coming, mostly in the 8oz to 1lb range with my best ones about 1¼lb. I did spot a couple of pike, the first about 2lb spooked away from my deadbait and the second was about 12oz - didn't have a bait small enough to even try!
But all in I must have had over 100 grayling plus a dozen or so trout - action all day long - and I can still hear James grimace every time I swung a pound plus fish in, waiting for my rod to shatter!
The lost barbel from yesterday was playing on my mind, so I got up early and cracked on with work - earning a quick hour on the river this afternoon. Straight to the spot I lost her and she was back...
And nailed the luncheon meat straight away - brilliant! Great fight and seemed bigger than I remembered, but as she slipped over the net I noticed the distinctive tail - recapture - crap!
Always nice to see them again, and great fun, but I was hoping for a new fish... I'm sure there are bigger ones to find.
Quick trip to the river and two missions; the first hour was spent trying to better my minnow PB from a shoal I spotted last week. I caught minnows and big ones - but they maxed out at 12 grams - goes to show how special that 18g fish was. The only other fish was a tiny stickleback - wonder where the gudgeon are?
I then swapped the 2.5lb line for 8lb, maggots for meat and went for a wander, searching for barbel in the clear water. I lost the biggest fish I spotted to a hook pull, probably wasn't a double but looked a good nine, never mind I landed four more of 7lb 4oz, 6lb 10oz, 4lb and 2¾lb, plus a bonus chub about 2lb.
That's 41 small river barbel this season - despite not really targeting them - would be nice to make it an even 50 before the season ends...
This was my Uncle David's reel, and although it was replaced with a more modern version a few times through the years this is the one I remember from fishing with him when I was a kid; an Abu Cardinal 44, 1973 (3rd edition 44) with original teardrop bail.
Sadly my Uncle died a couple of years ago and I found the reel in one of his many tool boxes inside one of his many sheds. It was dirty and hard to turn but I had to take it, perhaps restore it?
Disassembled, cleaned, oiled and reassembled - was all that was needed - they made them to last in Sweden in those days! Spooled up I grabbed a loaf of bread and headed out after my Uncle's favourite species - a chub...
A barbel was first to crash the party but after a bit of wandering about I found what I was looking for. This one's for Uncle D.
January apathy has set in, looking back through the blog it seems to have become a yearly tradition. I have been out a few times but it's been pretty uninspiring stuff!
James and I ventured down to The Frome but the water conditions were horrible, we both caught grayling but they were small - James did eventually land one worth a photo but it was hard work. To make matters worse I spotted a very rare Frome pike - the first time this season I haven't had any pike gear with me..!
I had an hour chasing gudgeon locally, landing six to 2.2oz - a promising start. Followed by couple of hours rolling meat for four chub to about 4lb and an eel getting on for 2lb, biggest for quite a while and my second one rolling.
But I'm bored with apathy now, have work to do but the entire design industry is pretty lazy in January - plenty of time to go fishing. Just need to let this snow wash through and get back on it...