Last year the fishing closed season passed with a numbing slowness. This year it hasn’t felt the same. I think the reason for this is that the back end of last season was pretty hopeless. The rivers were so high with all the rain we had and were almost entirely unfishable.

I went fishing only a handful of times in the first three months of 2013

and indeed can only recall two of those trips . One was in mid-February and because of either rain or snow it had been a month since I’d travelled to the river. The mundanities of life had also got in the way of this, as had a rather extended physical impediment (I couldn’t walk properly and wonky legs are not a good idea at the water-side).

But at last the opportunity to go was clear of obstacles even if the weather looked decidedly shakey. The day dawned and though it was somewhat soggy I had plenty of appropriate clothing.

I had recently received an angling T-shirt and since it had been accompanied by a note hoping it would bring me luck, that too seemed to be appropriate clothing.

So I set off early, not as early as I’d initially planned, because I decided to delay whilst I waited to see just how the weather was going to shape up. Until I realised that it wasn’t and set off anyway cold, but optimistic.

Clomping along to the bankside I spotted a penny in the grass. Another portent of luck surely? I picked it up and slipped it in my pocket. It had been drizzling all the way there, so the first thing I did was get all Ray Mears and use a poncho and a stick to rig up a waterproof covering for my gear to stop it getting sodden.

I fished through the drizzle and then through the snow that replaced it. I’ve never been fishing whilst it was snowing before and to be honest it wasn’t too bad. Quite atmospheric. Certainly better than the drizzle. I caught five fish all bar one a good size for the stretch.

There was no wind and so no wind-chill, which meant I could fish without gloves (always preferable), but nevertheless I began to notice that my core temperature was dropping.

At this point I realised that I was probably in the fringe area of angling where it starts to merge into the hinterlands of mental illness and so, somewhat reluctantly, set off home.

The second trip that sticks in my mind was actually the last day of the season. After leaving work early I made for the river nearest to home.

Last year I hadn’t noticed any other anglers about, but this year there were a few. No doubt they hoped that as it hadn’t rained for a spell the river might be low enough to provide a last chance of a fish.

Arriving at around four I planned to fish on till it got dark. It was pretty cold and the water was running high and fast, so I was not hopeful.

I had one bite.

I missed it.

It was freezing.

I wanted to give up.

But it was the last day of the season.

A quick root around in my bag produced a very small bottle of brandy that I’d bought in a chav-haunted convenience store on the way home from my last trip. It had warmed me up then and did so again as I took a nip from time to time. Dusk was falling and I was staring dumbly at the vermillion tip of my float, that had just begin to glow in the half-light and was pondering how as light fades some colours appear for a short while to become more intense.

At this point I looked up.

Through the open woodland on the opposite bank I saw a white shape. At no more than six feet off the ground a barn owl was heading straight towards me. Halfway across the water it banked to my right, rising slightly to hover over a patch of rough grass and dead nettle stalks a few yards down the footpath. It hung there as I stared mesmerised and continued to do as it flew off and away across the fields, rapidly, but at the same time somehow, in slow motion.

This was a magical encounter with amazing creature that flew and hovered in complete silence and it seemed to be a good omen to mark the end of the season.

So after one last cast with my body warmed with a last nip and my soul cheered by a sublime avian encounter I packed up and made for home.

As I say unlike last year this closed season has flown by. As swiftly and as silently as that owl in fact.

But now, with really just a matter of hours till I head off once more to the water, I feel the excitement surging within me and I can only hope for some of last season’s magic and madness.

The weather though may make it tend towards the latter

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yotf

It wasn’t all doom and gloom back in first few months of the year, although at times it certainly felt like it, what with an unexpected funeral, and equally surprising family break up, together with a series of frustrating disappointments at work. Plus the trails of illnesses, etc. which I mentioned at the time.

But even in the darkest times there are usually shafts of light and often it is luck that plays a part in creating them.

Whilst working my way through one of the lists of new blogs that regularly appear on The Outdoor Blogger Network, I found an American site that combined fishing and art. A Year on the Fly, by Joel de Jong was at the time having a competition for some of his artwork and also a T shirt.

So I stuck my name down by way of an entry and when the competition closed a few weeks later an email headed “Winner, winner, chicken dinner. ” (not a phrase I had ever come across – but plan to start using) dropped into my Inbox email to announce that I had won second prize. This suited me because as well as some of Joel’s artwork, it included a HexFishing.co T-shirt and I had written in my entry:

“At the risk of sounding like a cheap date, I’d be happy with one of the Tees – which is only part of the 2nd prize.”

The package took a week or two to wend its way over to this side of the Atlantic and when it arrived I was again delighted because as well as the limited edition print of an endangered Apache Trout, and the T-Shirt (I bet I’m the only person in the UK with one!) Joel enclosed another of his prints featuring a pair of racehorses and some HexFishing stickers. What a generous guy!

If you like art of a piscatorial nature then I’d urge you to pop over to a year on the fly, and there’s always something new to see. What I particularly like is that Joel often goes through the stages of creation of a piece of art.

Of recent posts I really like:

and – well I’ll stop there, just go and see for yourself!

Around six months ago I did a post on T-shirts. In it I mentioned the Streatham Fishing Club T-shirts. They are now available in a wide range of colours.

I think the club is something of a virtual one, since ownership of a Tee confers membership.

Please be assured that I have no connection with them other than loving the design, but for that reason I recommend you buy one. I also suspect that wearing one will increase your fishing catch.

And I can’t help but think that there should be some coded greeting should you bump into someone else wearing one.