Return of the Salmon

Richard Bell’s Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Tuesday, 29th January, 2008

salmonsalmon‘I THOUGHT you might be interested in seeing these,’ writes Kevin Sunderland of the Aire and Calder Rivers Group, ‘The pictures are of salmon leaping at Knottingley Weir on the 1st and 31st October 2007. The pictures are stills which were taken from video footage by Alan Tremethick, a fellow colleague in the Group. The quality of the picture might not be the best, but to my knowledge, these are the first ever pictures of salmon leaping on the Aire or the Calder, in fact in the whole of West Yorkshire.

‘The Environment Agency have confirmed that they are indeed salmon. As there is now a fish pass on Castleford Weir, it is likely that salmon will be making their way up the Calder and Aire in increasing numbers. Judging from a couple of catches by the EA (8 on one occasion and 2 on another), plus the numbers seen, it is likely that hundreds of salmon are now present in the Lower Aire and the Lower Calder.’

Kevin tells me that he has had a report of 19 fish in an hour leaping at a weir in Dewsbury on the Calder on the 28th December . He suggests that the only way to be sure these are salmon is to get the video camera down there next year.

Kevin would welcome any sightings from both the Aire and the Calder. Contact him via the Aire and Calder Rivers Group or alternatively e-mail me and I’ll pass your message on to him.

I’ve yet to see one leaping over the remains of the old weir at Horbury Bridge but now that I know it’s a possibility, I shall look out for them.

Salmon Watching

‘The best way of seeing salmon or sea trout,’ Kevin tells me, ‘is to look at a very difficult weir as they have to keep on trying to get up. I think that it will be difficult to see a fish at Horbury Bridge as they will only need one attempt to get over the weir. Chantry Bridge or one of the bigger ones higher up might be a better bet.

‘ I’ve learned a fair bit by watching salmon going up Stainforth Force on the River Ribble. The best time of year seems to be October / November, depending on rainfall. They don’t seem to want to know when the river is in full flood, but seem to have a go 3 or 4 days after the river starts to lose height. They probably try as the river level increases but it’s not particularly pleasant standing in the pouring rain watching for them!

‘ I’m hoping that the next step forward will be when the Environment Agency actually come across some juvenile salmon which have been spawned in the Calder or Aire. I’m quite optimistic that this is going to happen at some point.’

The animated overflow was made with Nature Illusion Studio, currently available on the PC Pro DVD (issue 161, March 2008).