Ottery angler Mike Winter is back on line

During October 2008, I was writing an article on Pike for the Herald, Try for River Sharks" when I thought I d got flu.

During October 2008, I was writing an article on Pike for the Herald, "Try for River Sharks" when I thought I'd got 'flu. It wasn't 'flu, but a very nasty meningitis bacterium, writes Mike Winter.I was taken to Wonford Hospital in Exeter and then rushed off to Intensive Care at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. After emergency brain surgery, I remained in intensive care for several weeks. Doctors told my wife "They nearly lost me twice during this time."When I was returned to Wonford Hospital, I didn't know where or who I was and couldn't remember feeling ill in the first place. Worse still, I was becoming deaf and my writing had become uncontrolled, spidery and unreadable. I couldn't even stand up, let alone walk.One consultant told me "You have been very seriously ill, recovery will be long, hard and slow." I managed to get into the Mardon Nuero Rehabilitation Centre in Exeter, where I have now regained my normal writing, my memory and am able to walk short distances.My meningitis attacked my brain and nervous system, whose tissues are slow to heal. But, if all continues to go well, I hope to be back on the bank or seashore before long. In the meantime, plenty has happened in the angling world during my illness for me to write about.But, first, I must thank all those who have written to me or sent cards wishing me well. I appreciate it all very much. Good fishing friends have even come down from Manchester, Brighton, London and Salisbury to visit me in hospital.They have reported poor fishing on the rivers during the winter, but, as usual, the end of season pike fishing has been superb. Several 40lb+ fish have been landed around the country. A fairly local, small stream, only fished by a few anglers, produced a tremendous 38 pounder!The coarse fishing season closed on March 14 and reopens on June 16. Anglers can go trout fishing during this time, as well as sea fishing from the shore for mackerel, bass, plaice and flounders.All of this is very enjoyable and makes a change from coarse fishing and you can eat some of your catch!Anyone who has no suitable trout or sea fishing tackle can often buy it cheaply at tackle and sporting auctions. I go to Pyles in Hatherleigh and Bonhams in Honiton. Never buy anything unseen!There has been much discussion in the angling press about the close season - that it is outdated and should be abolished, allowing coarse fishing all year round.Yet the present close season protects most of our coarse fish during their spawning period. Not only do the fish get protection, but waterside plants and nesting birds need a rest from trampling feet and constant disturbance.A good friend of mine shuts his lake when his prize carp start spawning and reopens it when they have finished - a flexible close season which all caring fishery owners and anglers could adopt.

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