Game Fishing

Salmon

Our brief, plain speaking guide to iconic salmon.

Salmon


The iconic salmon is probably the most popular game fish in Britain, making for excellent fishing and impeccable eating. But, many a hungry angler has – where and when legal, of course – tucked into a ‘salmon’ to find instead, sea trout. The two are very easily confused due to the many similarities in appearance at times when the sea trout is in (or just come from) open water.
The silvery body of the salmon is long with a large and powerful tail, and its rigid tail wrist means it is easily lifted out by the tail, something you wouldn’t do with the sea trout. The trailing edge of the salmon’s fin also has a gentle inward curve to it, in contrast with the sea trout’s vertical trailing edge. Salmon also have fewer spots, with few or none extending below its midline, where the sea trout has them.
 
Finding them
Salmon travelling to breed prefer clean freshwater systems where pollution is low, so they travel upstream to breed – surely one of the most famed breeding treks in the animal kingdom. Salmon parr live in shallow water and small streams, before migrating as juveniles to the sea after they have developed the secretion gills they needs to survive in salt water. After maturing in the sea for one to several years, they return to their freshwater home to breed. Wild salmon used to be quite common throughout the UK, but due to creeping water pollution are now predominantly in the north and west of the country.
 
Food and bait
Salmon parr eat aquatic insects, crustaceans, and a lots of airborne insects and small fauna that drop into the water. Adult salmon coming from the sea have fattened up and enter a form of hibernation of the digestive tract, meaning they do not feed in freshwaters and can spend several weeks or even months travelling to spawning streams without nourishment. When they go for a fly, it’s not because they are hungry… it’s likely purely ‘gut’ reaction (excuse the pun!). In the sea, adult salmon feed on crustaceans and small fish such as young herring.
 
 
Breeding
Salmon breed October to January in the shallow, clean, and clear reaches of upland rivers. Eggs take around 3-4 months to hatch.
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