Click a fish...
'The king of Fish'
There is no doubt that the Salmon is the best known fish in the world. While
there are larger, stronger, more colourful fish, there is no other species
that combines all these features so strongly as the Salmon.
Scientific Name: Salmo salar
Maximum Weight: 80lb
Average Weight: 5-6lb
Maximum Length: 60inches
Life Span: up to 10 years
It seems extraordinary that a fish should travel thousands of miles across
the Atlantic only to make its way back a year or two later to spawn. The
Salmon's homecoming marks the climax of an incredible journey and often ends
in death. The spawning ground is where it all begins and ends.
Atlantic salmon spawn between November and January because they need cold,
well oxygenated, fast flowing water in which to breed. You can easily
identify Salmon that are ready to spawn - the hen salmon (female) is dark
grey with black spots and a bulging belly. The male is brick-red with
elongated jaws, the lower of which hooks upwards and is known as a kype.
Salmon have a broad, powerful tail which helps them battle upstream. Members
of the family can be distinguished by the fatty, rayless adipose fin (small
fin between dorsal and tail).
Where to find Salmon:
Salmon live in many of the large rivers in the United Kingdom, but then of
course they also have a rather salty lifetyle!!?.
Salmon do not feed in fresh water. However, for some time after returning
from the sea they retain the reflex action to bite at anything that attracts
them. The fact they do not need any nourishment is what makes them so
frustratingly difficult to catch.
The amazing journey of the Salmon
When the young salmon is fully silver and about 20cm it is known as smolt.
As soon as the water warms up the smolt begins its long descent downstream
towards the sea. It is not until it reaches the mouth of the river that the
riches of the sea are exploited. Here it feasts on shrimps, whitebait, sandeels
and small cod. Salmon then move on out into the open sea, most to the west coast
of Greenland. In the sea they face threats from seals and predatory fish.
The time spent in the sea fattens them up in preparation for the journey
back upriver to spawn.
The long trek:
The journey downstream as a smolt must have been gruelling, but the long
haul back is even more so. How the salmon finds its way from ocean to coast is
an extraordinary feat of navigation. The Salmon uses its acute sense of smell to
find its way home.
Having survived the pollution and nets in the estuaries, the salmon stops
feeding - it has stored up enough fat to sustain it for over a year. Swimming
against the flow, the fish moves upstream in a series of runs - a task made
easier when the water is warm and river running high.
When it comes to obstacles, such as weirs and waterfalls, by swimming the
salmon jumps over them. It can leap as high as 3.5m, but it can only jump during
the daytime since it judges where the top of the obstacle is by aiming for the
light above it. This is how the salmon gets its name - the Romans called it
Salmo, from the Latin salire to leap
Considering Salmon don't actually feed when they are heading upstream it is
impossible to single out effective 'baits'. However, Salmon are known to grab at
certain objects should they be presented in an attractive way to them. These
include worm, prawn and shrimp mounts. Fly fishing and spinning are 'probably'
the most popular ways to salmon fish. Various plugs and lures can also be used.
How to catch Salmon - Techniques at a glance:
Fly fishing, with floating lines. Spinning - sink and draw. Worm or prawn in
the current using spinning tackle. Spinning prawn - sink and draw.