How good was the River Eden?

Trout too numerous to count and salmon too heavy to lift are the wistful memories of anglers who have fished the beautiful River Eden in the past.  Eden Rivers Trust is looking for any recollections about fishing on the River Eden for a new book on the history of the Eden.  This will cover its fisheries, fishermen, great captures and the changing ecology and land use of the river. 

Simon Johnson, ERT Director, said, “If there is anyone out there with old diaries, articles, photos or club records specific to the Eden area, I would love to hear from them.  We need as much information as possible to help us produce what we hope will turn out to be the definitive work on this iconic river.”

Sadly fishing on the Eden is not now what it used to be, as Eden Rivers Trust heard at a recent event called “How good was the River Eden” at the Tufton Arms Hotel, Appleby.  Fifty local anglers, keepers, ghillies and land owners who have fished the Eden over the past 70 years were  invited to share their recollections, memories and historical records about this special river; it’s fish, flylife, habitat and fishing. Their contributions were fascinating.

Simon Johnson said, “Although we still have a great fishery, we have heard firsthand about the truly wonderful river the Eden once was.  I tried to visualise the halcyon days of the 1950’s and 60’s when a good day’s dry fly fishing for trout was measured in the scores of fish with hatches of fly to die for.  Some of the captures of salmon in the early part of the 20th century are the fishing days that we can only dream about today, with many beats recording several fish in the 30-50lb bracket each season!”

Many of those present at the event have promised to hunt out historical records that will help Eden Rivers Trust to build up a picture of how the Eden has changed over the decades. This ‘anecdotal’ information is seldom captured by organisations responsible for fisheries management and can be extremely important when setting objectives for the restoration of a fishery – especially if historical monitoring information on the fish populations is absent.

A summary of discussions at the “How good was the River Eden” event is available on the Eden Rivers Trust website www.edenriverstrust.org.uk.  It will be used to help guide the Trust’s conservation work on the Eden and its tributaries.  This approach could form the basis of a blueprint for other Rivers Trusts and managers to use in their areas.

Simon Johnson can be contacted at Eden Rivers Trust, Unit’s O & Q, Skirsgill Business Park, Penrith, CA11 0FA, tel. no 01768 866788 or email director@edenriverstrust.org.uk

Robert Strong with 31lb salmon caught at Rickerby Park circa 1935Ron Mckillop with catch of trout
Robert Strong with 31lb salmon caught at Rickerby Park and Ron Mckillop with catch of trout, both pictures circa 1935. (Photos courtesy of Carlisle Angling Association)