John Cooper is in Sweden sampling the guided fishing, Martin James is at the 4th Lapland World Cup, and I'm in Finland running around in circles, but more of that in the Last Cast piece. Also abroad was Roger Linn, who has finally managed to find time to write us another piece about his annual Irish mayfly trip. Henry Gilbey is overseas too, this time it's the Channel Islands and Roddy Hays is jousting in La Gomera. An even more exotic location is the Himalayas, John Bailey puts you among the mahseer of the mountains. Everyone else has their feet planted firmly in Blighty - with apologies to our Scots fly guide, Lesley Crawford.

I've had both a few ups and a few downs. On the up side I paid the river Kennet a few trips and had loads of action with barbel, chub and river carp. I found a swim packed full of them and hit it a couple of times. The first trip I took about 4 barbel and a carp and on a subsequent trip with Tim Allen I notched up a few more. Mind you, I lost far more than I landed that day. A tree had collapsed into the river turning the swim into one giant snag. Tim fished upstream of me and had a great time taking several barbel up to 9lb, a new personal best for him.

Tim lives on a canalboat on the Kennet and Avon Canal and has in his 'back garden' a fantastic swim that he and I fished one evening. What made it so special was the vast array of species there. In just a very short session, fishing side by side, we took a barbel, a bream and a tench(!) all from the same seated position. In front of us, small roach and rudd were being chased by a perch and to our left we had carp to 20lb - possibly more - taking floating bread. I got quite excited and was looking forward to a longer session that we arranged for the following week. Then the blow came. The owner of the land would not allow fishing there anymore. Grr. Mutter mutter, come the revolution brothers….!

I have to tell you this - a 'funny thing happened to me on my way to the theatre' type story, but all quite true and it was a first for me. Whilst walking my doggie around the lake, I spotted what I took to be a fish or two feeding, bubbling in a hole in some lily pads over an area where I know the bottom is clean gravel. The bubbles were not particularly tench or carp-like but I put that down to the clean bottom. It looked very fishy indeed. I started to bait the spot, morning and evening for several days, planning on a session later in the week when I could steal some time. Every morning and every evening, each time I put bait in, I stood back watching for a few minutes and saw a few bubbles coming up. I felt sure I had a good session coming up. Imagine how I felt when I arrived after three days prebaiting to find the bloated body of a dead spawn-bound tench floating in 'my' swim. I imagine it had lain on the bottom until gases in it's body built up enough to float it. I had been pre-baiting a corpse for three days!