There are different ways of thinking about salmon, but the gulf between such fishy thoughts can be oceans apart. There’s the muddy tasting salmon we can buy in supermarkets or the slightly greasy layers of smoked offerings we consume on canapés around this time of the year – then there’s the big, wild, sleek, magnificent beast that are the monarchs of our rivers…[sic\
To know about that creature – and I mean to really understand why the salmon is master of the Westcountry’s waterways – it helps to both see these amazing fish out in the wild, and to understand something about their extraordinary lifestyle.
The Western Morning News was invited on to the high moors of Exmoor to do just that, now that the annual spawning has finally got underway.
There is something very special indeed about spying a huge sleek creature lurking in a tiny stream and knowing that, after it was born in this exact same place, it travelled more than 2,500 miles and faced hazards too numerous to mention.
The chances of the creature achieving such an adventure from hatching to mating or egg-laying are many, many thousands-to-one.
Which is why each salmon could be described as a gleaming, silver, miracle.
No wonder people like Nick Maye and Ben Simpson are willing to spend so much of their time keeping an eye out for these incredible fish.
It’s part of Nick’s job – he is fisheries officer with the Environment Agency (EA) and in that role looks after the entire River Exe catchment – but you get the feeling that he is so passionate about salmon that he spends far longer out on the river banks than his job description demands. Ben doesn’t get paid for looking after the salmon at all – but as a committee member River Exe and Tributaries Association (RETA) and a riparian owner, he shares the passion for wild salmon. More....