Where to see salmon
One of the most amazing – and moving – sights in nature is that of the mature Atlantic salmon leaping up waterfalls, weirs and fish passes on its way home to spawn. It’s a sight that can be guaranteed to fascinate onlookers, whether they fish or not. Indeed, for the non-angler, it may well be the first and only time they see salmon, and come to appreciate what a truly marvellous, brave and indomitable animal this is, and how it earned its Roman name: Salmo salar, salmon the leaper.
There are records of salmon leaping at least 12 feet in their determination to ascend waterfalls. Those who have seen these prodigious feats will know how the fish almost seems to fly rather than jump. A leaping fish in two elements, air and water!
Some of the obstacles over which the fish leap are natural, some man-made. We are aware that there are mixed feelings about the latter, and that many would like to see all man-made obstacles removed. However, salmon-watching is also likely to arouse public awareness of the need to minimise artificial barriers to fish passage, or at least take action to reduce their impact.
It’s our intention to build up a comprehensive ‘where to watch salmon’ dossier over time. Many thanks to those AST newsletter readers who have already sent information and pictures about the best salmon viewing sites in the British Isles. We’d be delighted to hear about others (please include pictures and a map reference, if possible) and to receive pictures of fish leaping where we don’t yet have any illustrations.
The best time to witness salmon aerobatics is October or November after heavy rain -especially following a dry spell. Fish are generally most active in the early morning and evening.
1. Otley Weir, West Yorkshire – River Wharfe
2. Puente Viesgo in Cantabria, Spain – River Pas
3. Blackwater Falls, Perthshire – River Blackwater
4. Cenarth Falls, Ceredigion – River Teifi
5. Larbert Weir, Stirlingshire – River Carron
6. Lovers’ Retreat, Camowen, Tyrone – River Camowen, Foyle System
7. Rocks of Solitude, Edzell, Angus – River North Esk
8. Hexham Weir, Northumberland – River Tyne
9. Falls of Shin, Sutherland – River Shin
10. Pitlochry Dam and Salmon Ladder, Perthshire – River Tummel
11. Philiphaugh Salmon Viewing Centre, near Selkirk, Scottish Borders – River Ettrick
12. Lydford Gorge, Devon – River Lyd
13. Falls of Braan, The Hermitage, Dunkeld, Perthshire – River Braan
14. Falls of Feugh, Banchory, Kindcardineshire – Water of Feugh, River Dee
15. Glen Tanar Estate, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire – River Dee
16. Buchanty Spout, Easter Glenalmond, by Crieff, Perthshire – River Almond
17. Linn of Tummel, by Pitlochry, Perthshire – Rivers Garry and Tummel
18. Cargill’s Leap, Blairgowrie, Perthshire – River Ericht
19. Stainforth Foss, Yorkshire – River Ribble