I was not expecting the level to be quite so high, so the waders were back at home in the garage and I was hampered by how far I could wade out to flick the baits back to the clear spots. I was eager to get a bait in the same spot that I lost the carp from the week before but the trees made it impossible. I did try though but now a rig is hanging from the witches’ fingers high above the swim.

I did find half decent areas though and with mild weather I was confident. The skies started clear but soon clouded up hiding the full moon. Stewart turned up and set up in the other half swim casting out single pop-ups into the darkness near the islands. We chatted the evening away until around 10:30pm when the first spots of rain began to fall. We were glad to see the rain as it ensured a mild night after the fog and frost the week before. However what we were not expecting was the inch of rain that fell over the next 7 hours. The rain was relentless and heavy turning what was the remaining dry land into mud. Sometime in the early hours I heard Stewarts buzzer through the drumming of rain on the shelter but I was not going to get a soaking to go and see and he did not come down to me, so I guess it wasn't anything exciting.

Around 4am the wind turned to a north-easterly blowing straight off the lake into my swim. The rain was now coming in and soaking the bedchair and me; I guess that's where a bivvy with a door might have been useful. Instead I packed the shelter and bedchair away and retired to the car that fortunately is right next to the swim and sat out the last couple of hours in the dry and warm.

Packing up time was not pleasant with the rain still pouring down and the mud getting deeper. The car only just slid and skidded its way out up the slight slope back onto the gravel track. There was no sign of life from Stewart though his brolly was still there facing the wind and rain. I left him to it, cursing this winter's conditions, there must be an end to the rain soon surely.

As I have said before, I generally enjoy winter carp fishing as you have the lakes to yourself, the fish are in superb condition and it is a real battle of wits against them. This year though has been the hardest for a while. I always thought I would moan about winter when it was continuously cold and frosty but this year it is the rain. The temperatures have been superb, lovely and mild but the rain has caused me several problems.

The lake I am fishing at the moment is badly affected by the water table and the incessant rain has caused the level to rise a full three to five feet above normal. This extra water is very cold and the level is constantly fluctuating. I think this has caused the carp many problems up to a point where they are wondering what is going on. Without doubt they are lying up and not feeding this year, where in previous years they have always been far more mobile and ready to feed.

The other main problem with the rain this year is the excess water running through the land drains and sewers. The pipes have not been able to cope nor have the water treatment plants. Foul water and sewage have been pouring out onto the roads which then finds itself back in the lakes and rivers. This lake has been badly affected where to a point, as I said last week, the silt has been very badly tainted. Last year I pulled back bottom baits after a night and they still smelt of boilie, this year they smell of drains.

I have often been called mad for winter fishing continuously using the minimum of protective gear. By that I mean not using a bivvy and not using a sleeping bag. Well, to me they are two items of tackle that, one, do not fit in with my short session overnight winter sessions and two, are in my opinion most likely to cause the loss of a fish or to miss a take. In short, they lead to inefficient fishing. That is my opinion but I have no problem with those who want to use them. Given then that I do not use them, I need good clothing, bedchairs, blankets and shelter.

Starting with the shelter. I was hampered for many years as brollies were only 50-inch things at best but now we have 60 inch ones and oval brollies. I use the Rod Hutchinson Oval Shelter and have done all this winter and last summer. It is superb; it comes with two stout storm rods and fixings for two more. It has fitted storm sides and despite all the rain we had last spring and since September I have not found a single drip. The normal brolly erecting mechanism means it is up or down in seconds, ideal for my short sessions. Get one; contact Relum now.

I keep my waterproof gear on at night ready to leap out when needed. For decades I have worn a Bib and Brace summer and winter. The versatility of these is superb as they enable waterproof legs and torso without you feeling cumbersome, and in summer hot as a full one-piece does. I can choose to just have a T-shirt on top in summer, or jumpers, and when raining, a coat over the top. I have just got a new one from Relum and it is a great improvement on my old one. It is quilted inside right down to below knee level meaning it is warm as well as waterproof. The quilted lining means I do not get that horrid cold feeling in the lower back and the two way zip and Velcro overlap means it is warm at the front whilst still being easy to put on and take off. Again it has been superb during this year, when I did not think the weather could get any worse. I recommend one for all types of fishing. I have found a pair of boots or waders fit easily inside the legs as well, which not all one-piece waterproofs do, as the legs are often too tight. The price is right and the garment superb.

I got a double knitted woolly hat as well from Relum which has certainly kept my ears from falling off when fishing in temperatures down to minus 6 this winter. So give Relum a ring and get one of their brochures. Then you can be as mad as me and get out there in winter and enjoy it.

You will not catch them at home!

Have fun!