23.4 ° turns out to be a pretty significant measurement for all fly fishermen. It is not, as you might first imagine, a measurement of the temperature at which something meaningful happens. It is, in fact, an angle. It is the angle of the earth´s tilt. To an astronomer this angle is also known as the “obliquity of the ecliptic,” a term which has no meaning whatsoever to me but, in the interest of appearing well-educated, I shall also adopt.

Why is this angle such a big deal?

Well, the result of this angle is that most of the world´s fly fishermen are sitting at home with a whiskey in their hands dreaming of the next fishing season, or reminiscing over the events of the last one. Many of them will have turned their attention to reading books or tying flies.

For them, today is the shortest day of the year. Many of the rivers which they remember the adventures of the summer are cold and dark, maybe even frozen over. The musical rivulets of the spring are frozen fingers of ice. Trout are close to the time they will spawn on many rivers, a drama unseen by most of us.

Meanwhile, down in the southern hemisphere things are on the up and up. The Mataura river in New Zealand, where I fished during my couple of seasons living in the South Island, will now be coming into its own. My friend Harry Abbot will now be on the New Zealand leg of his trip and I hope he enjoys good sport with the famous rainbows and browns.

Here, in southern Spain, we avoid the worst of the winter blues which descend on northern Europe. My local river, the Guadalhorce, has been fishing well, even into December. I had never tried the river in the winter before and look forward to revisiting it in January and February.

For the gloomy fly fishermen of the North I would like to offer a picture or two to cheer you up. Spring and summer may seem a long way off but the “obliquity of the ecliptic” which robbed you of daylight and warmth today, will repay you in June.

We have no reindeer in Spain but I have used some state of the art graphics to convert Tony, our resident pony, and one of our two puppies in reindeers of sorts.

If you have a whiskey in your hands, enjoy it.

Tony the reindeer

Boris, the little reindeer

Boris, the little reindeer