Monday, 3 November 2014

Leaping Salmon

 Hiding in the currents they wait

Now as some of you may be aware of I'm rather fond of fish, So much so I must be the UK's only fish twitcher! However there's one thing I've never witnessed and thats Atlantic Salmon leaping upstream so thought its about time I remedied this.

 Brown Trout leaping

I visited a fairly unknown site that has a steady run of Salmon as well as Brown Trout trying to get upstream. The Brownies would jump much higher then the Salmon but didn't have the strength to make it over the weir.

 Another unsuccessful leap

Brown Trout will jump to reach spawning grounds upstream with the Salmon and in some cases can hybridise with Atlantic Salmon though this is rare. It averaged 3 or 4 fish leaping a minute and although I've seen it on Autumnwatch every year nothing prepares you the actual site which put a smile on my face which would not dissipate.

 The mystery fish

At the time I thought this was quite a silvery fish to be jumping and wasn't till I got home that I realised it was a steelhead a searun rainbow trout which is a unusual fish for a river. Rainbows often find there way into rivers when they get washed in from fishing lakes or can be stocked by anglers but the anadromous form of the rainbow is a rarity in the UK.

Powering upstream

Brown Trout on its way to spawning grounds

Some of the fish almost look like they are taking flight and can really reach a good bit of height some going well over 6ft in the air. The remarkable journey these fish take is extraordinary with them growing up in the river and moving out to sea to feed up on shrimps and small fish before coming back from the northern atlantic ocean to spawn again.

Breaching the water the male has developed its pointed snout

Salmon in Scottish and Northern rivers can take up to 3 years to go back to sea while salmon in southern chalk streams will go after just one year because the warmth and extra food. Chalk stream salmon are under threat because they are at there temperature barrier for spawning so if the rivers increase in temperature they may disappear from them for good.

Hen salmon flung high into the air after leaping out of the rapids

Cock salmon making the leap

The sight of a huge Atlantic salmon breaching the rapids to go further upstream was something that will stick with me for a long time and always a nice change not squeezing into a wetsuit and having to get in a freezing river to photograph fish so i could get used to this kind of fish twitching!

BBC Wildlife Local Patch Reporter
Jack Perks

Facebook: Jack Perks Photography


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