One of the great joys of rivers, at least when set against the majority of commercial stillwater fisheries, is that no two swims are ever exactly the same.
Not, I should hasten to add, that I've got anything at all against commercials. In fact they've been largely responsible for my reintroduction to angling, and I fished little else for the whole of my first year back.
But having vowed to abandon those commercials during the winter in favour of learning more about river fishing, I'm now relishing the variety, the texture, the sheer unpredictability of flowing water.
Take the River Leam by way of an example. I've pretty much hammered the Welches Meadow and Leam Valley nature reserve stretches over the last few months, but genuinely feel like I'm only just starting to get a feel for one or two swims - an understanding of where the currents run, where the shelves and the deeper pools lie, where the snags and the weeds are and, of course, where the fish are most likely to be. It takes hours of bank time to get this feel for just a single swim (well it does for me) - and yet the neighbouring swim, which may be just yards away, is almost certainly completely different. And a few days of rain or a change in temperature of just a few degrees can mean that even the swims you know best feel completely alien again.
So even on the stretches of the Leam I know best there are dozens of unexplored (by me) swims, and if you move significantly up or down stream then the changes are even more dramatic, with the river undergoing almost total transformations of character.
Clearly one winter will be nowhere near enough to get to know even this one short and relatively minor river. So last weekend I realised that I faced a choice - continue exploring the stretches I had already been fishing, or make a start on tackling one of the other areas.
Whether it'll make me a better angler I don't know, but I chose the latter and headed to Offchurch in search of the upper Leam...