Salmon coming to the end of their journey

Salmon coming to the end of their journey

I visit the river Tyne at Lambley Viaduct every day and have noticed in the last 3 weeks that the fish are starting to die. The one's that are weakening come into the shallow water and nestle into the side of the bank where there is grass and they can be hidden. I have been able to walk up to them and photograph and film them. If I walk slowly up river then I approach them from behind, but they often sense me at least 5 yards away as I see the water move ahead of me as I approach. Other's are too tired to be bothered any more. 

A few evenings ago at twilight I turned away from the river and crossed the field to home. I skirted round a pool of water which took me off the route I usually follow. As I came to the sliver of drainage stream which crosses the field, I paused to check my footing before stepping across. I looked down, and there she was, a salmon! Lying quietly in a foot of water. She was alive and I took a poor photo on my phone. I thought about her that night, and the next morning with my good camera I set off to see where she was. She had moved and I walked along the edge of the stream as it headed across the field to join with the river. It was quite a distance before I found her. 

female Atlantic salmon

atlantic salmon

I wondered if she had moved downstream while she was still alive. Heading back to the river perhaps. There were parts of the stream which became very shallow and pebbly and I found it hard to imagine that she had been carried there by the water alone. I stayed with her for a while, and later that day I went down to the river to light a fire. It was damp, and the wood was resistant to burning. I knelt down to blow into the embers many times, like breathing life into the fire. I persisted, as it's like that sometimes with fire lighting, and eventually it did take. Giving off such bright light in the darkness, encircling Cassie and I. But the fire wasn't meant to be and it gave up quickly, and I had to accept that it wasn't meant to last.

river tyne lambley viaduct


lambley viaduct

lambley viaduct river tyne

The next day, I went in search of her again. Now she was even further downstream, so maybe the water could carry her after all, even though its such a small stream. Now after one day she looks very different.

dead Atlantic salmon

2 days later and she has moved nearer to the river again, as if she hasn't given up.

dead Atlantic salmon

Walking back along the river I see a a couple of jumping fish and this one near the bank.

The fish is in the top left quarter of the image. And then Cassie finds the fish in her own way.

And home.

river tyne reflections in water

lamely viaduct

I met John who has lived in the valley for 70 years, on my rambles yesterday and he told me that he had seen 2 fish spawning in the stream, and the timing would make it right that it was just before I first saw the fish. So maybe the other fish made it back into the main river, and maybe just maybe if I keep watching the stream I might see some small fish sometime next year. 

Its now 10th December, and the river rose a few days ago. So I went to see where she was and she had gone, re-joined the river. Still travelling. Nothing stays still. 

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