Dark Days – Ramblings from the waters edge

The Winter Solstice, light fades from the day and the natural world turns the corner. The journey towards Springs renewal begins again. I cannot understand why our own calendar is so out of sequence with that of the real world. The natural world we live in where the light is dictated to by the revolving world the moon and the sun.

Perhaps as anglers some of us are more finely tuned to the natural cycles of life. I certainly despair at what has happened so quickly. I first cast a line for salmon in the River East Lyn over forty years ago and in those first few seasons I was fortunate to connect with numerous salmon and glimpsed many more in the clear waters.

We walked the River today its tumbling waters rushing between boulders and fallen trees. The salmon should be spawning now; hopefully there are a few still cutting redds high up in many tributaries and head waters. I remember walking the river over thirty years ago in the depths of winter. Salmon were plentiful then with fish spawning even in the lower river. I gazed into the swirling waters of Vellacots today but sadly I saw no salmon.

It was good to see the new signs on the River today highlighting the amazing life cycle of the salmon. The river is still a joy to fish and has a good head of wild brown trout.

The reasons for their decline are both complex and many. Water quality probably isn’t a major factor on the Lyn. The main problems are probably out at sea where few salmon survive to return to the rivers of their birth. Predation by seals, otters, cormorants and other predators is undoubtedly a factor. The natural eco system is I believe out of balance and this has much to do with the hand of mankind. We exploit the vast oceans and seas depleting fish stocks and then do our utmost to protect the creatures that feed upon these depleted stocks. It is depressing to think that at the present rate salmon could be virtually extinct in South West Rivers within the next few years. I witness this dramatic decline in my lifetime and despair when I pick up todays Times newspaper. ” Conservationists have reacted angrily to the announcement that the target date for cleaning up the majority of England’s rivers, lakes and coastal waters has been pushed back by 36years to 2063.” FFs………

At least public awareness is growing regarding the rapid decline of the natural world. Is it too late?

Another sad note I have witnessed in recent years has been the increasing barriers to accessing the coast. This is undoubtedly a result of an increasing population and the demand to enjoy the marvelous coastline. Inconsiderate parking of cars and the dropping of litter are contributory factors. A lack of respect for Private land and over zealous land ownership can also lead to confrontation. When I started sea angling access to many areas of the coast were open access. Today no parking signs and barriers seem to blight the landscape.

In some parts of the South West fishing marks have become no go areas due to anti social behaviour. I dont have the answers to all of these issues but a little more tolerance and respect for others would go a long way.