Biting cold North-east winds, dark grey brooding skies and freezing rain, such a contrast to the pleasant spring weather we experienced just a week ago.

I must admit that as I get older I tend to take a bit more notice of the weather than I used to. Not that I'm a fair-weather angler, nothing like it, but I do ensure that having fun is at the top of my wish list. Weather like the muck I'm looking out the window at now is not really conducive to fun in my mind. You can go and catch fish in it. I'll stay at home with a good book. Mind you, it's easy for me to say that because I'm off to Florida next week!

The end of the season does tend to bring all those guys like me out though. Even if the weather is horrible, you can expect three times the normal attendance on the bankside, and it can pay off. This morning I was walking my dog around the local lake and was greeted by a highly excited angler who had just landed a 15lb pike. Chuffed to bits he was. The downside is he'll now be chomping at the bit for the next 3 months to vanish quickly as he's someone who believes in the close season and adheres to it. I'm not so sure as I'm of the opinion that all different species need different closed seasons. The fact that February chub anglers pick up the odd trout don't seem to harm the trout too much, so why can't we have separate dates for carp and pike for instance, instead of lumping them all in together? This would make far more sense than the existing stillwater/river divide for three months of the year.

Of course the real lunacy of the angling laws is demonstrated when we look at salmon fishing. Whilst we are forbidden to fish for all other species during the period when they might be spawning, where salmon are concerned the reverse applies! We are only encouraged to fish for salmon when they are in the mood for getting their fins over. What I find strange about this is, that nobody else thinks it’s strange at all! I saw my first salmon of the year on an Itchen grayling session in January. We often pick up the odd ‘nuisance’ chub or trout while we grayling fish - though I must confess that I don’t find them much of a nuisance, I love it! On this particular day however Pete struck into a fish which took him all over the river and almost emptied his ‘pin. After a good half hour of this nonsense the culprit finally came to the net – a 5lb salmon. Not often we pick up one of those on a trotted maggot!

Walking the dog around the lake over the course of the winter I have watched the number of anglers grow fewer each month. Since Christmas I doubt that the lake has been fished more than half a dozen times, so it was with interest that I noticed, on the last Friday of the season, a bivvy set up in the car park swim. I was chasing the dog and the dog was chasing squirrels so, having my hands full, I didn't bother going over to speak to the angler. He was in his tent anyway and might even have been asleep. I found out whom it was at 4.30 that afternoon when my doorbell rang. It was Simon, all a-quiver with excitement. I knew what the question was before he asked it.

"Can you come and take a photo for me?" The winner of Countdown was forgotten as I donned a warm coat and closed the door behind me.

Simon told me that he hadn't been fishing in over two years, this was his first session in all that time. He was thrilled to bits and it was great to see. He put the fish into a sling and hoisted it aloft whilst I read out the scales for him. A fraction under thirty pounds - what a result! It was great to see the thrill on his face, all too often carp anglers feel the need to look as miserable as possible for the camera, I never could work that out. Not our Simon though, he was grinning from ear to ear! Not a ‘proper’ carper then did I hear you say, you young whippersnapper? Wrong! Simon has caught more big carp than most and even held the grass-carp record for a while a few seasons ago. I even saw him take three carp in one day out of this lake once – a feat that has been equalled once or twice but never, I believe, beaten.

One month later.

I took the boat out on the Thames today, getting it ready for it’s true test when the season starts. It was hot, 80 degrees and I got a little burnt. The speed the seasons change at these days is astounding. It’s scary what we are doing to the planet – it didn’t happen as fast as all this when I was a kid. Everything is changing at 100mph and not all for the bad either. My fishing was crap then to what it is now. Not all of us had Crabtree-type venues around, well, we didn’t in the East-end of London anyway!

Today I’m spoilt rotten when it comes to fishing. It’s true. I get to visit some great places and fish brilliant locations, especially some of those exciting venues abroad. My first overseas trip this year was to Florida and, for a change, I got a great guide running a great operation. What was not so great was that I went down with a case of bronchitus which laid me out so thoroughly that I only managed one day’s fishing the whole trip. And guess what? I picked the only day with crap weather! Still, you can read about that at: http://www.fishing.co.uk/article.php3?id=2090

So, I have not managed to get out much what with one thing and another. I have had a couple of ‘interesting’ (as the Chinese might have it) trips with a trout rod; once with Alan Tomkins to Farmoor – where I caught a couple of rainbows on boobies and got into terrible trouble with a ‘bailiff’ for parking behind my pitch – and a trip to Syon Park with Dev, an Indian business acquaintance of mine. This was on a day when almost everyone was blanking, including us. You see, Dev doesn’t live here, he lives in Jaipur, so our cultural differences are quite noticeable. And they were even more noticable when he started asking – in a very loud voice on a very quiet, still afternoon with a lot of other anglers around – why couldn’t we use worms? Nobody would know, he said, and most of these other people, indicating the other fly-fishers nearby, were probably using them anyway so why shouldn’t we? Bearing in mind this was his first ever day out with a flyrod and he was thrashing the water to a foam anyway, so we were already getting a little more than our fair share of attention from the others fishing there, I got a little paranoid. Somehow I managed to get the pair of us out past the guards before we were thrown out. Got to go back there though – it’s a great place, and right in the heart of London. Think I’ll leave out taking any guests with me in future though.

I’ve got Spain lined up for a trip next week. I only have a week and most of that is to be spent house-hunting but I do fancy a day or two fishing. I have already got a day’s cat-fishing planned with Derek Curzon in his boat but I would like to try something else. I could remember getting some interesting emails ages ago that I had stored - I knew there was something in there, so I started trolling through it. All kinds of junk I have saved here. All the usual offers; a cheaper mortgage, an on-line casino gives me $30, pills that make you thin overnight, a $50 degree from a ‘university’ in the USA within the hour (why did I bother studying for eight years?) add three inches to my penis length (what would I want with a thirteen inch penis?). All that kind of stuff – I’m sure I’m not the only person who gets this junk email but I doubt that most people get the volume I receive. At least a third of my mail is garbage like this but I have to troll all of it in case it’s genuine. Well, not all of it. I draw the line at mails from the likes of XXX-asian-elephants-having-sex-with-dwarfs.com and delete those without bothering to read them. Well, most of them anyway. But I digress as ever.

I finally found the mail I was looking for. From Nick Hart. He’s running a flyfishing operation in the Ebro Delta. Now, that will make a change – hope he’s got room to squeeze me in for a day. Gotta go.

Dear Nick…mate…er..