Friday, February 5, 2010

Salmon Fishing Scotland Atlantic Salmon Identification.

Salmon Fishing Scotland Atlantic Salmon Identification.

This was taken from the Atlantic Salmon Trust web site and hopefully will help you identify the different stages of an Atlantic salmons life. The identification is very important at the start of the spring fishing period because all these fish are in the river at the moment making life quite difficult especially if you are a beginner to the sport. Kelts, Baggots, Rawners and off course that elusive springer.
One of the golden rules prior to catch and release was "if in doubt return it."

How can salmon be recognised at the different stages of their life in fresh water?

Fresh Run Salmon

Recognised by the pristine condition and bright silver flanks. Fish straight from salt water have loose, easily detached scales and many carry sea lice which drop off within a few days. Hen salmon (illustrated) have a tiny kype on the lower jaw but unlike cocks they retain normal head proportions while in the river.


Kelts are salmon which have spawned. Usually identified by the thin shape, distended vent and presence of "gill maggots" on the red gill filaments, they are often encountered by anglers in spring when they regain a silvery appearance and can be mistaken for fresh run Springers. Kelts must be returned unharmed to the water.

Maturing Cock and Hen


Cock: The combination of "tartan" colours is typical although shades vary - the fully developed kype, used in fighting rivals, and the enlarged adipose fin, are the most consistent indicators of maturity.


Hen: These are usually less coloured than cocks of similar age and they never have enlarged jaws. This one will have spent a few weeks in river or estuary - note the coloured head and lack of true silver flanks.

Cock and Hen In Breeding Dress

Cock in Breeding Dress

Cock: The combination of 'tartan' colours is typical although shades vary - the fully developed kype, used in fighting rivals is the most consistent indicator of maturity.

Hen in Breeding Dress

Hen: This is a summer fish - springers are often darker by spawning time while late entrants may still be silver flanked. Fully mature hens have soft, swollen bellies and spawning is imminent if they also have protruding vents.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If in doubt return it.. Seems dated in the current climate of salmon fishing. Anything caught is returned now.

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