The ground was hard with frost, the air cold and the sky crystal clear and blue. The water of the Itchen ran slow and clear, crystals of ice glistened in the morning sun, Kingfishers darted low across the water and the sound of cows split the air.

For the second time this month we had made our way to the River Itchen just outside Winchester to fish for Grayling, however we weren’t the only ones this time, in fact the river and riverbanks were littered with figures resembling Action Man, dressed in their olive neoprene waders and comofalaged jackets, they certainly were dressed for the occasion. Young Tales made a quick observation, with three men fishing 10 metres apart there was a sense that they weren’t going to catch anything other than each other. A stunning comment from young Tales ‘ all the gear but no idea’ was most apt, especially in light that these gentlen had blanked where young Tales had managed to net two pewter bars within 20 mins of being on the water.

Fly fishing such a narrow stretch of the Itchen requires stealth and an understanding of where the fish hold up, unfortunately we witnessed a lot of thrashing about on the water, bite indicators and little understanding of the water. We met a gentleman called Clive, a friend of the renowned Garry Mills of Mills Tackle who demonstrated how to set up for a successful days fishing, trotting a chubber float above a olivette weight and linked to a size 20 hook was clearly an effective set up, 18 fish and one shy of 3lb with numerous trout in the tally was impressive.

What made me smile was young Tales ability to hook two 1lb Grayling and several juvenile salmon Parr in the process. He seemed to be at one with his surroundings knowing exactly where the fish would be. Mrs Tales spotted a good size Barbel further upstream, we investigated, but as the temperature dropped we decided to retire to The Bridge for warmth. I cloud cover would have helped the fishing however watching the fluorescent orange tip of the float dip beneath the water of the river was enough to put a big beaming smile on a certain young boys face.