Tough day on banks of the Ouse

WEST NORFOLK AND THE FENS: You had to be slightly unhinged to even try fishing at the weekend – let alone expect to catch anything.

Yet we sat it out on Sunday, on the few hundred yards of the Ouse that weren't frozen from bank to bank – and not surprisingly didn't catch anything.

I checked out a couple of stillwaters and found the ice was nearly two inches thick in places. Drains large and small were also solid.

I drove around until I found clear water and Bob King getting his gear out of the van.

'You've got to be in it to win it mate,' he said as we pitched up in adjacent swims.

I reeled in one of the deads when a twig fouled the line an hour later to find it had hardly thawed. And the bead above the big sea slider had frozen to the braid.

Yet the river didn't look too bad to me – bit of flow, bit of colour with just the odd bit of debris coming down. One run's all you need, I kept telling myself.

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I thought there would have been another piker or two out. Or some die-hard maggot drowners after the roach the grebe and a merganser were diving for, amid a flock of coots. But no, we were the only ones on the whole King's Lynn stretch, the bailiff confirmed when he rocked up.

He could have said only ones stupid enough but didn't, being the smiley, glass half-full bailiff he is.

I felt sorrier for him than us, when he said he'd been round to check all their waters.

Spare a thought for people like the Lynn bailiff this Christmas. You might curse your luck when you hand over your fiver, but at least there are people out there keeping an eye on the drains and rivers in this part of the Fens.

If you are out over the next few days be warned – the back roads are going to be icy and the danger's not over if you do find somewhere clear to fish.

The banks are frozen solid and slippery in places.

I say this after watching Bob perform a move that would have gone down a storm on Strictly Come Dancing as he lost his footing on the steep floodbank, did a demi-pirouette and ended up on his rear end.

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