OK so the weather has always been a national preoccupation in Britain. Our island status coupled with our proximity to the Gulf Stream means that we get more variety in our weather patterns than any other European country. Beyond that it seems this winter is likely to re-write some of the record books with phenomenal rainfall and wind speeds.
The sequence of depressions tracking across the Atlantic seems to be never-ending. According to the meteorologists it all starts with the cold air block across the United States which feeds in systems that are then accelerated by the unusually fast jet stream. These develop into the series of storms that we have endured for all of 2014 with dramatic affects on our western and southern coastlines.
Living as I do in Cornwall I'm very aware of this at first hand. There have been plenty of sleepless nights lately with banshee winds howling in from the sea. Local TV and radio have advised against cliff walking harbour fronts and breakwaters have been seriously dangerous and pictures of 30 foot plus waves have kept even the most ardent of surfers away from the beaches. Sea fishing has been impossible to the frustration of our fishing fleets that have been bottled up for weeks on end.
What does it all mean for the coming season? Well it may sound a little optimistic but I actually think that there could be at least a few bonus factors in all this. The rivers have had a much-needed flush through and all the leaves silt and debris that built up in pools and eddies over last years long hot summer have been cleared away. Aquifers and underground water tables are full to overflowing and even the little winterbournes of Wiltshire that rarely flow at all are in semi-flood! Chalk stream anglers are in for a good year without a doubt with improved flow and water quality. So too will reservoir anglers have a better year as a good flush on the lakes will lessen the inexorable enrichment by agricultural run-off potentially with a corresponding reduction in algae blooms
One really good thing about these weather patterns is that the lack of frost and snow has kept water temperatures surprisingly high throughout the winter. Comparable months back in 2013 saw the rivers in a near-dormant state as ice gripped the land but this year the rivers and streams are full of life. When the floods subside long enough to go for a river walk you can find a host of insect life under every stone.
Every year we have to re-learn our Bass beaches down here as the winter storms re-shape the drop-offs lagoons and sand bars. This year the learning process will mean starting with a plain sheet of paper as the beaches haven't so much been re-shaped as re-drawn! This was never more obvious than on my favourite beach a few weeks ago when one of the biggest spring tides of the year literally ate into the dunes area re-distributing countless million tons of sand. In some places wave action cut into the cliffs themselves even destroying coastal features that have been landmarks for generations of visitors to west Wales and the south west.
Whilst we ponder on the vagaries of the weather and its impact on our lives and our sport it's perhaps worth remembering that even these extremes are still just part of an overall pattern. Whether you subscribe to the school of thought that climate change is here and happening or that it's just a minor variation within a millennium it's hard to escape the fact that nature has a way of compensating. Last year's long and protracted winter was followed by one of the best summers in a generation and it could be that this year will follow a similar pattern. I still think that for most of last year the countryside was running around three weeks late due to the long winter - maybe this year it will run a little ‘early'. Certainly the snowdrops and daffodils are already out and whilst the storms are severe they do at least bring milder temperatures with them. Local Councils in the South of England still have mountains of road salt supplies as there has hardly been any cold weather to speak of - just as well really as otherwise the unfortunate people on the Somerset levels would have a frozen wasteland to contend with instead of a lake.
I for one am hoping for a proper spring. I felt we were cheated out of spring last year as we seemed to slip from winter almost directly into summer. I love the transition of spring - the early arrival of some migrant birds the sight of the first Hawthorn flies and the pleasure of warm sun on my back for opening day at Blagdon. These things and more were denied to us last year - let's hope that 2014 makes up for it!
Chris offers guided fishing in Devon and Cornwall ranging from wild Brown Trout on the river through to saltwater fly fishing for Bass and Mullet visit his website www.chris-ogborne.co.uk or email Chris.