Skip to content

Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)

The River Ewe at Poolewe

The River Ewe at Poolewe

Between June and September each year, many hundreds of adult salmon return from the North Atlantic underneath the road bridge at Poolewe and swim up the River Ewe into Loch Maree.

Many of the salmon are 'grilse' which have been at sea for little more than one year. Larger salmon may have spent two or more winters at sea. In late autumn, salmon run upstream to lay their eggs in river gravels. Many salmon die after spawning and their carcasses are eaten by otters, foxes or other animals. Young salmon hatch in the spring, and are know as 'fry' in their first summer, as 'parr' in their 2nd and 3rd years before turning silver when they are known as 'smolts' and migrating downstream into the sea and on towards arctic feeding grounds.

WRFT has found juvenile Atlantic salmon in 30 river systems within the WRFT area. Salmon are the most important species for fisheries. The Little Gruinard River has been designated under the EU Habitats and Species directive as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for Atlantic salmon.

One year old salmon parr         [Close]
A salmon smolt (Ben Rushbrooke)         [Close]
A grilse with predator damage (Ben Rushbrooke)         [Close]
The head of a cock salmon (Ben Rushbrooke)         [Close]
Brown trout (top) and salmon parr (below)         [Close]
Salmon fry and trout fry (the one at the bottom is the trout)         [Close]
An escaped farm salmon - note the shape of the tail and fins (Ben Rushbrooke)         [Close]
Artist Robin Ade with the head of a 35lb salmon carcass found in the River Ewe in January 2003; Salmon of 32lb (15kg) or more have been recorded in several rivers in the WRFT area since the year 2000         [Close]

Salmon Gallery

Click a photograph to see it enlarged.

Related Downloads

To download a file, right-click over it's name and choose Save Link/Target As...

  • Finding Salmon and Sea trout around the Wester Ross MPA
    This presentation by Peter Cunningham introduces the main wild salmon rivers that flow into the Wester Ross MPA and describes some of the issues, including infestation by sea lice from poorly regulated open cage salmon farms, which threaten wild salmon populations and sea trout within the Wester Ross area. Can the wild salmon populations around the Wester Ross MPA be given additional protection?.  Posted: 27/10/2022 (11.01MB)
  • WRFT Newsletter March 2022
    This newsletter provides a summary of some of the work of WRFT over 2021, including some plans for 2022.  Posted: 11/03/2022 (2.95MB)
  • Status of Juvenile Wild Salmon in Wester Ross Northwest Scotland 2022
    This report provides a summary of the results of the 2021 juvenile fish survey in the Wester Ross area, and discusses findings and associated issues relating to the conservation and management of important wild salmon populations in the northwest of Scotland .  Posted: 01/02/2022 (5.70MB)
  • Badachro smolt trap 2021 article
    Article about the River Badachro salmon smolts from trapping study in April - May 2021. The study was supported by the Atlantic Salmon Trust in partnership with Fisheries Management Scotland and Marine Scotland Science. .  Posted: 27/06/2021 (1.38MB)
  • Nutrient Additions workshop presentation 6th February 2020
    Presentation given by Peter Cunningham at the nutrient additions workshop at the Marine Scotland Freshwater laboratory on 6th February 2020. The presentation makes a case for phosphorus budgeting for Wester Ross to restore wild salmon populations and address problems associated with loss of phosphorus transfer and ecosystem malnourishment. .  Posted: 28/02/2020 (9.55MB)
  • WRFT Review January 2015
    This review covers an 18 month period from July 2013 to December 2014 (with Jan 2015 update from Wester Ross Area Salmon Fishery Board) and presents a summary of the results of fish juvenile fish surveys, sea trout and sea louse monitoring, fish farming related issues, surveys on the Isle of Skye, a Little Gruinard macro-invertebrate study, mink monitoring and other activities carried out by the Trust.  Posted: 21/01/2015 (7.09MB)
  • Tournaig grilse 2012 photo mosaic
    This high definition picture is a mosaic of photos of 39 of the grilse that were taken in the upstream trap at Touraing in 2012, between July and September. Zoom in to examine each fish. Contrast the colour of the fish, their condition and predator marks. Note that the file is large! All photos were taken by Ben Rushbrooke.  Posted: 14/06/2013 (15.82MB)
  • Tournaig Trap adult salmon sex ratio report, October 2012
    The majority of adult salmon that have entered the upstream trap at Tournaig were female fish. This short report provides further information and graphs of catches.  Posted: 03/10/2012 (366KB)
  • Little Gruinard FMP April 2011 Part 6
    Little Gruinard River FMP April 2011 Part 6.  Posted: 03/02/2011 (5.04MB)
  • Little Gruinard FMP April 2011 Part 1 & 2
    Little Gruinard River FMP April 2011.  Posted: 03/02/2011 (6.81MB)
  • Escaped farm salmon and wild salmon at Dundonnell, October 2009
    Higher resolution photograph of the two large male salmon from the Dundonnell broodfish tank, 30th October 2009. Photos of scales from each of the fish are also shown. Fish photo by Ben Rushbrooke. Thank you to Alasdair Macdonald and Dundonnell Estate for permission and support.  Posted: 18/11/2009 (2.59MB)
  • Scale of Dundonnell River salmon 22 October 2008
    This salmon was taken from the Dundonnell River on 22 October 2008 for broodstock. Scale reading indicates that she was returning to freshwater to spawn for the third time. Thanks to Alasdair Macdonald of Dundonnell estate for the scale.  Posted: 11/12/2008 (1.90MB)
  • Six Tournaig grilse taken in October 2008 (Ben Rushbrooke)
    Six grilse taken in the upstream trap at Tournaig on 9th & 10th October 2008.  Posted: 10/10/2008 (918KB)
  • Little Gruinard juvenile fish assessment 2006 report
    This illustrated report presents the results of the 2006 WRFT Little Gruinard electro-fishing survey. Relationships between juvenile salmon abundance and habitat characteristics are discussed. The natural production of juvenile salmon in this Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for Atlantic salmon could be strengthened through restoring levels of natural fertility within the Little Gruinard catchment area.  Posted: 22/09/2008 (964KB)
  • Land Use and Salmon Smolt Production in Wester Ross
    Presentation given by Peter Cunningham at the WRFT Ecosystem Fertility and Salmon Smolt Production Seminar on 30th November 2007. Describes growth of juvenile salmon in Wester Ross and how this relates to soil fertility and land management. Note large size of file!.  Posted: 05/09/2008 (22.41MB)
  • Otters and Salmon carcasses study 2002
    The findings of a study to investigate levels of mortality of salmon along spawning streams and what happens to their carcasses are reported in this report to project sponsors, the Atlantic Salmon Trust.  Posted: 18/07/2008 (3.12MB)
  • Soils, Ecosystem Fertility & Salmon Smolt Production in Wester Ross
    This poster illustrates the soils, ecosystem fertility and salmon smolt production in Wester Ross.  Posted: 24/06/2008 (569KB)