This trip had to be booked a few weeks in advance which is always a risk, our timing could be out and we could end up being faced with a raging angry tea-coloured torrent or the weather at this time of year could make the long trip impossible. This time we were lucky. The river was swollen three days ago but it had now dropped to almost it's normal level and the clarity was returning. The weather forecast was sunny and dry.
Martin and I set off at 5am, there had been a really harsh overnight frost, the roads were fine where the gritters had been but we still had to take it steady. We arrived in Builth Wells at first light and grabbed some refreshments. The stretch we were fishing is about three miles from Builth up and down a narrow little country road. As we came down the first sharp incline the van started to gather speed. I touched the brakes gently, the wheels lost their grip and we started to slide. I tried to ground the vehicle up a verge on the left hand side but this only succeeded in flicking the back end out and we entered into a full on spin. With the van bouncing off one verge then the other we rotated a full 720 degrees before I managed to straighten it out again just before the bridge at the bottom. Thankfully neither of us were hurt and there was minimal damage to the van.
With the small bridge negotiated we pulled into a lay-by next to another van. The driver was also an angler on his way to Linear but he had skidded down the other side of the hill and thought better of it. He had been watching us coming down the hill with the headlights going round and round, it must have looked hilarious.
From hereon in we had a choice, sit in the van and wait for the road to defrost or slide our way up the hill (on foot!) to fetch grit salt to help it along. The three of us set off and within 3/4 hour we had both slopes gritted enough to finish off our journey. After a slight detour (wrong turning!) we finally arrived at the river well after sunrise.
I decided to head downstream to where the water was calm and deep. I figured the bright light and overnight temperature had forced them into that area. I remained biteless for another hour and I was sure fish were in front of me so I turned to desperate measures. I set up the feeder rod-I know it is sacrilege but blanking was not an option after the arduous journey we had undergone to get there!
Within twenty minutes I finally struck into a bite and landed a 1lb 3oz Grayling, a welcome fish but the target was a 'two'.
The rest of the day passed without any more fishy interruptions. This stretch is normally prolific but was decidedly difficult this time. Hopefully the lack of action was down to the conditions and not the creatures that made these tracks that we found!