You’ve had one too many at the Christmas party and find yourself at a karaoke night where the guy with the mic is belting out the D:Ream hit: “Things can only get better.”

He’s a salmon angler. No, trust me on this one.

Okay, so there are a million melancholy men for whom 2018 was not a vintage year.

Ice cream salesmen would not be among them. If one of them took to the stage it would be to perform the late Ian Dury and the Blockheads hit: “Reasons to be cheerful, part three.”

Those reasons being: the long, hot summer.

But one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

For the salmon angler those seemingly interminable days of sunshine were purgatory in spades.

Rivers wilted away and as the water evaporated in the heat so did any chance of catching a salmon.

Yes, the melancholy man with the mic is almost certainly an angler because, of course, anglers don’t normally complain, about the weather, or the lack or rain, or that it is too bright, or the water levels are too low, or there are no fish, or ……..…

You’ll have noticed that he’s not a natural born singer and hasn’t spent every waking moment since the 2018 fishing season closed at the end of September rehearsing for his big moment on stage.

More than likely he’ll be suffering the latter stages of cabin fever. He’ll have been moping about the house, variously getting under the wife’s feet, up the children’s noses and on the dog’s nerves.

Those repairs and home improvements he vowed to undertake once the fishing season ended remain firmly on a very long finger. Now with the new season almost within touching distance he’ll be dusting off his rod and reel, ready for the off, while the rest of the household heave a collective sigh of relief.

Along with the dozens of other ardent salmon anglers from all over Ireland our talentless yodeler will forgo the New Year’s Eve celebrations, set the alarm clock for an early start and be on the banks of the River Drowse the following morning in time for the 8.30am kick-off. He’ll probably still be humming that old D:Ream hit.

I don’t know if Enniskillen angler Brian McEvoy can sing but he can certainly catch fish. He has landed Ireland’s first salmon of the season on two occasions, most recently on New Year’s Day 2010.

Since then the first salmon hasn’t always put in an appearance on January 1. In 2015 the month was nearly gone before another Enniskillen angler, Brian McClintock, landed the first fish, on January 27.

This year it was left to popular Drowes Fishery employee Bill Likely to catch the first salmon, on January 30.

Fishery owner Shane Gallagher believes salmon may have started running into the Drowes from the sea up to a month later than normal and that climate change may be responsible.

According to Inland Fisheries Ireland an estimated 240,000 salmon returned to the 140 or so recognised salmon rivers of Ireland last year. That represents a 70 per cent decrease since numbers peaked in the 1970s at 1.8 million.

The continuing decline nationally and internationally has been attributed to many different factors including climate change, alterations to rivers and habitat, pollution, predation, over-fishing and increased mortality due to sea lice infestation blamed on inshore salmon farms.

The reasons for the decline will be investigated as part of the 2019 International Year of the Salmon, a global initiative aimed at bringing people together to share knowledge, raise awareness and take action to try and ensure the survival of the species.

As our singing friend laments: “Things can only get better.”