It snowed again, six inches deep around here, other parts of the country had considerably more. It hung around for ten days or more, our second shoot was conducted in falling snow and a few days ago the dawn temperature was minus thirteen degrees. Ice has formed on the margins of the slower parts of the river and millstream and the fish have switched right off as their metabolism slows with the low water temperature.
Most of the Pheasants stayed down in the warmer meadow eschewing the draughty block of Maize on top of the hill, A few Partridge pitched off the top, but most of what was around lay in the valley bottom. A few Woodcock and Snipe got up, some funny ducks that looked like Widgeon got up in the distance and several Muntjac ran to and fro as we bumbled our way through the wood. We shot a few and missed a few, which was understandable in the conditions, and were glad to get back indoors following a bitterly cold morning. Otis did OK, picked up a couple of tricky pricked birds and quartered and flushed his way through most of the morning. Now he has worked out what his nose is for it would be great to get him out on some Ducks in the Dark, but there are still very few duck coming onto the pond let alone flying up and down the valley. With the woodburner on the go twenty four hours a day, we are getting through logs at an alarming rate, the senior ash tree that did for the bridge six weeks ago has now nearly all gone, along with another that came down near the millstream.
The Brown Trout eggs are now all eyed up and will soon be hatching, this years batch have been particularly good, especially when compared to last year’s batch when I used a couple of duff cockfish. In the river there are no fish on the gravels any more, most have retired to the deeper water to get over the rigours of spawning. The low water temperature may mean that they are slow to regain condition. The Grayling are in superb condition, the water remains relatively clear for the time of year and they are by far and away the most active of the fish in the river bar the Pike who sit motionless until hunger takes hold and a hundred mile an hour ambush secures them a meal. With a bit of colour in the water we could have some good pike fishing in the early months of next year.