A thoughtful river walk

There were hundreds of martins twisting above in the valley as we set off on one of our favourite walks. I reflected upon the marvel of these small creatures whose wings would carry them far away to Africa. Within weeks they will be flying over vast plains populated with elephants, giraffes, lions and zebras a vast contrast to the wooded valley of the River East Lyn. Can we even start to imagine how they find their way and perhaps even return once again to continue their cycle of life upon our shores?
I caught my first salmon from the River East Lyn in May1980 the first of many more over the following years. Whilst those years saw prolific runs of fish they were only fractions of the migratory runs that had taken place in the years before UDN ravaged stocks in the 60’s and 70’s. I have spoken at length with several anglers privileged to fish the river in those  long-gone halcyon days and recall some of their stories in my forthcoming book “ I Caught a Glimpse”. Each time I walk the river I reflect upon salmon I have caught or hooked momentarily reliving the moment in my minds eye.
Today on the start of the walk there is a sad sight before us. For in the clear waters lays the rotting corpse of a salmon; its flanks covered in fungus having perished on the last part of its epic journey. The River has of course been closed since July after large numbers of salmon and sea trout perished due to disease up to perhaps more than 80% of the spring run deceased. It is feared that this is once again UDN but this has not been confirmed. Whatever it is it will run its course there is nothing we can do; it would be a very sad day if salmon ever stop running this beautiful river. I have always been of the mind set that long after I have departed these magnificent creatures will be ascending and descending these clear waters. As an angler I have a profound connection with the salmon having felt their power and life through a bent rod as they surged to and fro in the tumbling waters.
Further upstream Pauline pointed out a salmon resting at the back of a pool. At first we thought it was a healthy fish then noticed a white spot upon its nose a tell tale sign that it to may be cursed with a slow death and wasted journey. The river is very low after a summer with little rain. With winter will undoubtedly come heavy rain and the river will once again become a raging flow of tumultuous water. Nature is resilient and I feel sure salmon will make it to the redd’s high upstream as always. When the leaves have fallen and winters cold air descends we will revisit the river again peering into the icy waters hoping to glimpse the sowing of future generations of salar the salmon. Perhaps I will once again cast for salmon in the Lyn’s turbulent waters? If not I will reflect upon some glorious days when I was privileged to do so.
The river also provides first class brown trout fishing with hundreds of pristine wild fish their crimson spotted flanks delighting anglers who flick their flies into the Lyn’s historic waters. With this trout season at an end I must make sure I target these next season when springtime returns.
The Lyn Valley is full of history glimpses of which can be seen on the walk from Lynmouth to Watersmeet perhaps my favourite walk particularly with a rod in hand or mind.

About piscator2

An all-round angler I fish for fun and enjoy sharing my experiences and adventures at the waters edge. Each week I write a column for the North Devon Journal and occasional articles for various publications.
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