After fishing the Hampshire Avon off and on for well over 30 years I realised that actually my affections were swinging towards another river - the Dorset Stour. I have always had a liking for it, especially the middle and upper reaches.
As the year turned I also realised that I no longer have any permits to fish the Avon - all of mine are for the Stour. I can't really call myself a man of the Stour as I guess that honour comes after many more years treading its banks but I do know my love is strong for this jewel of a river, so long in its near neighbours shadow.
You will have noticed from my recent posts that pike have got a hold of me lately - I really enjoy the simplicity of pike fishing, especially when it involves a lightweight spinning rod, net and shoulder bag. What with last knockings edging ever so closely to 6pm I can even sneak in quick after work trips on my way home and again start to feel like all is getting along nicely with the world again.
There has been something of a shift this last week or so. The noise generated by the birds is just superb. Not just at home, but riverside as well. My latest foray was made even more enjoyable by the birdsong - what is it at this time of year when a blackbird is in full voice? They stopped me in my tracks as I cast my Ondex spinner in search of a Stour Esox.
My last few trips here have rewarded me with sightings and sounds of the shy water rail - on each occasion I see and hear him going about his delicate business hoping to not be spotted.
I can walk miles travelling light, only guided by the distant church bell chimes as to how far I have actually walked. This last trip had seen me have my fill as I got back to the car as the Norman church bell rang out at six - four small fish to about 7lbs was enough to keep me going and give me my fix until my next trip. The verges around the church awash with snowdrop, crocus and daffodil.