The perception of change
Everything changes through time just at different rates so whilst our perception may well be that something’s never change the fact is everything does, we are just not around long enough to notice! I of course write this from an angler’s perspective and find myself trying to gauge where we are or I am in piscatorial terms.
We walked down to Watersmeet a few days ago and I stopped to take a photo of the waterfalls. Stood tall and proud in the river was a grey heron patiently stalking his next meal. I thrilled at the sight of a fellow fisher fishing the waters that I have fished. I recalled a salmon of 11lb that took a Mepps spinner in the pool above. I also remembered another salmon I tempted from the little pool below where the bird stood. These great memories are tempered by my knowledge that the rivers salmon stocks are in serious decline. I have many fond memories of the river thirty years ago when salmon and sea trout were abundant. Yet back then I spoke to locals who reminisced about a river when they were young when salmon and sea trout where packed into pools like sardines, tides of silver that moved up river following a spate.
I frequently recall a sentence uttered in jest during a TV comedy show. “They were the good old days, yet no one told us at the time!” How true this is if I fish the river next summer I may well hook a salmon and of course I will now have to return it carefully to the water. I just hope that in thirty years time if I am still around that I don’t speak to a young angler and recall when salmon once swam in this river!
Fish populations do of course fluctuate and hopefully salmon will be ascending and descending our rivers long after I have made my last cast. I am not so gloom ridden when it comes to sea angling for in this huge expanse of water things evolve. Fish populations ebb and flow and whilst there has been a decline there is plenty of room for hope as each season we see superb catches of some species. The adaptable sea angler will always find sport. Thirty years ago we chased twenty-pound cod from the North Devon Shoreline now its spurdog that seem to be the go to fish. The cod have gone but the spurdog have been protected from intense commercial fishing and have filled an ecological gap. I am puzzled where previously bountiful numbers of pouting and whiting have all gone?
The carp fisher has never had it so good in many ways with big carp now readily available in many waters. The old timers like me can wax lyrical about the old days when we had to work for our fish. Of old waters with overgrown tree lined banks, of carp that were nigh on impossible to catch pre hair rig and boilie.
The coarse fisher has a multitude of waters containing silver fish and handsome perch to specimen size. In some ways we have never had it so good yet we always look back with fondness at those good old days. We should remember that in angling as in life things are so much better when we are young or at least they are looking back. I guess we need to just seize the moment for what it is fish for what’s there and enjoy.