Salmon run

Where to see a salmon run

© Rob Jordan/2020VISION

The salmon run

One of the great journeys of the natural world comes to a close at the end of the autumn: the great Atlantic salmon run. Salmon navigate to their rivers of birth, gathering at river mouths around our coasts after five years' maturing in the Atlantic. As the river levels rise with the rains, the journey upstream begins. Gather at the riverside and cheer them on as they swiftly dip in and out of sight, flying over obstacles! By the end of November, spawning is complete, and the surviving adults make their way back out to sea at a calmer pace.

Weirs and waterfalls are no obstacle for the king of fish when he wants to get to his spawning grounds: the salmon hurl themselves up and over!

Find a salmon run

Here are some of our special spots to try:

Radnorshire Wildlife Trust

Gilfach in Powys is bisected by the River Marteg, an important tributary of the River Wye.  Follow the ‘Salmon Stone Circular Walk’ which takes you to a special viewing platform perched above a waterfall, and get a birds eye view of the salmon leaping upstream. The area is also good for spotting otters - watch as they wait for an easy meal.

Tees Valley Wildlife Trust

Running along the side of Tees Valley Wildlife Trust’s Maze Park nature reserve is the River Tees. Visit in October or November for a chance of seeing the salmon jumping up the fish ladder at the nearby Tees Barage, along with seals who are hoping to catch an easy meal. 

Scottish Wildlife Trust

Tummel Shingle Islands, reserve is one of the rarest habitats to be found in the UK – freshwater shingle. Visitors are advised that the river Tummel can be very high and dangerous, especially in winter months. There are no footpaths on the reserve and the shingle can be slippery in places, please take care.

How to do it

You will need to pay attention to the clock, to the calendar and to the weather forecast.  Early morning and evenings during October and November are best, and a period of rain after a dry spell will provide the perfect conditions for the salmon to leap.  Find a good vantage point by the river: bridges over weirs are the best.  And take care on wet slippery banks! 

If you can't get to these places

Watch Jack Perks’ film of UK freshwater fish – the salmon is one of many fascinating species for which he has footage. Atlantic salmon are over-fished and salmon farming is fraught with environmental costs.  If you want to enjoy eating salmon sustainably, then wild-caught Pacific salmon from Alaska is the best option, according to the Marine Conservation Society's Good Fish Guide.

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From seeing colourful wildflowers to spotting magnificent birds of prey, we can help you get closer to wildlife across the UK.