And so, with just a fortnight till the year's end, and me entering my busiest period, the rods have been put away until next year, and the time has come to reflect on one of the most unusual years in my fishing life, in which I've been an angling "prize" at an auction, caught new species fishing in the USA and made a pilot program for a possible TV series, as well as my more usual visiting of lakes, ponds and canals near my east Leicester home.
The busy-ness of church and family life meant that I didn't fish nearly as much as I'd like to, but the sessions that I did have were catholic in variety, at times challenging, at times successful and always pleasurable.
The sad news was the closing of the lake which had, for the last year and a half been the location for my son and my own pursuit of crucians. We managed just four trips there this year, none of which produced crucians of the 1 pound plus variety that we'd caught the previous year. Here's my son with his last ever crucian from the condemned lake.
Another highlight was introducing Louie, a teenager from church, to fishing, initially as a result of him bidding for a guided fishing lesson with me in a charity auction. Luckily, the fish were in co-operative mood on the day of the "lesson" and he took a lovely bag of crucians and added a bonus perch of over a pound, all taken on pole fishing gear. Subsequently, much of his pocket money has found its way into the coffers of tackle dealers and fishing shops and he has progressed into a good, keen young angler.
I also managed a bit of carp fishing, and a number of trips spinning for perch, often accompanied by my son, who has added new skills and experiences to his repertoire, and has developed a liking (not inherited from me!) for bite alarms and method feeders.
The highlight of my year was spending some time in the States, researching how some American churches in the Southern States have used angling as a means of connecting their Christian activities with their wider local communities. I met some fantastic people, and caught some wonderful fish, in amazing surroundings, from skate and flounder in Charleston to bass and bluegills in Missouri and Arkansas.
The year ended with a bit of a "media flourish". The readership of this blog dramatically increased as a result of my American adventure, and the Church Times published an illustrated two page article on my exploits.
However, the most unexpected spin-off was when I was contacted by a TV producer who had stumbled across the blog, with the result that I, and my fishing minster friend Stewart Bloor, were asked to make a pilot episode for a potential fishing/travel cross-over program with a "light touch" faith element. The filming experience was great fun, and we should know in the New Year whether it has been commissioned for a series- exciting times!
So, that was this year.
What does next year hold? Does TV "stardom" beckon? Will my son and I uncover new lakes to make up for the loss of the Estate Lake? Will it be a year of bending rods and screaming reels, or blanks and frustrating puzzles? Who knows.
It'll certainly be a season when I continue to develop my evolving passion for "traditional angling", although not to the exclusion of a few night sessions after carp with my son when we'll be doing the whole hi-tech modern carp thing while ensconced in a warm bivvy....... and isn't that just one of fishing's biggest attractions? There's just no way of knowing what 2014 holds, but one thing I'm sure of, is that-in piscatorial terms- it'll "be a blast", just like every other year since I first picked up a rod, over 30 years ago.