Just when the muck, rain and wind has us almost beaten, the whimpering of the dogs makes you regrettably don the rubber boots and search for the lead on the, by now, well soaked window sill. Dawn is slowly gaining ground over the winter darkness, but cold winds still funnel their way through the glen from yet another Atlantic storm. Seven shades of brown are easily counted as light begins to touch the mound and trees sitting by the swollen river. The little Logher stream spouts out a darker shade of brown water into the mix after washing its way through the fields of winter barley. All is wet to touch for weeks on end, but for the walks with the dogs you could easily turn your back on it and wait for March to show its face again. On one such walk last evening, I met Bill, the fisherman, who was returning from the canal after a full day’s fishing. “A healthy piece of water you’ve got there! I caught specimens of fish that lads would die for!” I haven’t fished ‘bob’ in 30 years but I do remember well using crab apples as floats to bob in the scum left behind at the grates entering the waterworks; shoals of fish that had been corralled into the canal after seeking shelter from the winter floods. But now with the sluice gates at the far end of the canal long since discarded, it is open game for all kinds of fish, and the mammals that follow them. Salmon have often been found on the upper banks after an otter had used the same waters to trap its movement and exhausted spent fish are sometimes seen drifting down the same canal to avoid the weirs and follies beneath the tomb of Newgrange. As I walked the bank last night I remarked to Bill that I had heard a sound of a splash, like that made by the tail of a seal, but on seeing the dog frantically about to jump in, it was the mink floating motionlessly in the water, again the hammering sound came from behind the rushes and immediately the mink was gone. It must have been a disgruntled otter making himself known we agreed, but they haven’t made a difference to the fishing Bill laughed, repeating to himself over and over again about how healthy the water was in that canal. So alarm bells rang this morning when I spotted the head of the seal just at the section where Bill always sits and fishes. Oh so fast they move when cornered and like a wet stag through the briars and bushes, it made waves that make a motor boat almost look pleasant. I knew I hadn’t time to bring the dogs back home, so instead I snuck up to the bend, thinking that is where he will appear to see if I was following. As soon as my nose came round the bend, off he flew up the last half mile of water way, only appearing to suck in a bit of air. By the time I was up to the river I knew he would be long gone, but on turning home, who popped his head up just before going over the weir? He looked at me as if smiling to himself on finding Bill’s healthy bit of water.