Even the most experienced fishermen do not really understand the movements of the elvers once they enter the river. They drift upstream on big tides, and then, as the ebb sets in, they seem to make for the banks, heading for flows of fresh water. On some nights they mass into solid snakes, miles long, and if a fisherman hits one of those, his fortune is made: he has only to put his net in the water to load it.
In the old days - until the Sixties - elvers were a spring treat for country people. For a few weeks, in every cottage, they became staple fare, and boys sold any surplus for sixpence a pound. Now, such is the demand from Europe and Japan that the price has rocketed to pounds 110 a kilo - four times that of smoked salmon - and locals can no longer afford the delicacy.Reuse content