The journey provoked further pessimism. I left Sussex just after the rush hour on Friday with a very light drizzle. By the time I got to Hampshire there was flash flooding and no signs of it improving. Wouldn't you just know it.
The classical music did its it best to ignore the out of sync tempo of the wipers. But it would be okay, it was my time. I'd surely suffered enough, hadn't I?
Rachmaninoff and co did their best to calm and soothe as I crossed over fabulous southern waterways.
The Itchen, the Test, the Avon and the Stour. A niggling voice of reason that I was passing by rivers with some fantastic fishing repute. Ignoring the doubt, I focused on my quest.
I arrived in the afternoon and walked the southern bank of the beat. The weather had eased a little but being below trees the drops continued to 'pop' like caps on my hood.
The feeder streams spewed their foul muddy sediment into the river, tainting its clarity. Maybe the extra colour might prove to be an advantage. Notice optimism putting in an appearance.
I walked to the bridge and gazed down into the water briefly before scanning the meandering river upstream. I spotted the rise of a sea trout and it did nothing but whet my appetite for the forthcoming adventure.
Facing the setting sun I watched the flickering silhouette of a lone kestrel scouring the hedgerow for that last meal of the day, making the most of the fast failing light.
An abundance of pheasants were making their way to the wood to roost whilst rabbits emerged to take their places on the headlands like the changing of the guard. A pipistrelle bat flittered and danced beneath the canopy of the trees above me as I reached the car. The night shift were here.
I checked in at the guest house, unpacking and settled in an armchair with a book. I didn't fancy getting changed and making my way out to the pub for a meal so I relaxed and decided to try an early night.
Notice I said try.
I drifted in and out of sleep. My mind awash with leaping Sea trout and iridescent dorsal fins kiting up shimmering riffles in my reverie. The digital display of the bedside clock appeared to entrap time which caused me to compare it with my phone on several occasions, lest I were party to some bizarre deceit.
I was so comfortable but it might as well been a bed of nails for the rest I got. Tossing and turning in it like a small boat on a raging sea. At 4am I couldn't stand it no longer and staggered my way scratching and farting to the en suite shower.
I thought I'd get a large breakfast about seven to set me up for the long day but I wasn't fooling myself or anyone else in disguising my eagerness for nonchalance. I slurped a big mouthful of fresh coffee and made short work of two thick slices of toast smeared with bittersweet marmalade before picking up my flask and packed lunch and hightailing it from the door to the car.
The slight drizzle was so fine that would take all day to get you wet but the time I got my waders and suitably attired a heavy downpour had me sheltering beneath a tree whilst I awaited Grahams arrival.
It gave me chance to take in the spectacular autumnal colours around me and ignore the gloom of inclement weather.
Exchanging greetings and tackling up together we discussed the prospects like eager children and made our way upstream to enter and begin our assault with fly rods and czech nymphs.
A while later Graham hooked into a good grayling that gave a good account of itself after realising it was hooked. I made my way up to him unclipping the net from my back as I went. As akin to my vision, the fish hoisted its dorsal in the shallow riffle and surged downstream twisting and turning. In trying to gain control and turn the fish Graham sadly parted company with it.
We both were disappointed but at this early stage we could at least seek solace in the fact the fish were there, feeding and our tactics worked.
I fished for the morning and well after lunch before taking my first fish. A Grayling of about four inches long.
I felt guilty that I felt no elation. There was no shouting for joy, no whoops and squeals of delight. A real anti climax really. I guess seeing how big Grahams lost fish was so close up, it did nothing but increase my enthusiasm for better results.
After we had sandwich back at the car I decided to change to trotting with a float. I'd wrestled with a nagging voice all morning as I waded upstream. It scolded and criticized me about all the idyllic swims I was wading through and disturbing that were as perfect to trot a float through downstream as you'd be pushed to find anywhere in the country.
On making my way upstream again I made for the swim Graham had lost the good fish in and trotted a light wire stem stick float along the edge of crease and deep glide. I was soon rewarded with a much better tussle and eased it toward my net. This was better, much. A good fish, a very good fish. Here was euphoria and elation. Now came relief, joy and a sense of success. A grin adorned my face which set and no amount of despondent thoughts or inclemency could wash away. I could relax now, I'd done it. Tension dissipated like tears in the rain.
With a mix of modern and traditional tackle I had my fill and enjoyed every minute of it. I will be returning for sure.