Wildlife & Nature to See in October : Salmon

October is the month to watch the magnificent spectacle of Salmon returning upstream to spawn.

Wildlife to See in October : Salmon

October is the month to watch the magnificent spectacle of Salmon returning upstream to spawn. These powerful and determined fish overcome what seem like the most impossible obstacles in order to ensure a new generation of salmon is produced.

October is a great time to see leaping salmon. Image by Laurie Campbell.

October is a great time to see leaping salmon. Image by Laurie Campbell.


Once salmon have hatched in upstream rivers they remain fresh water fish for between one and four years surviving off insects. They only head out to see once they have changed into smolts which can take place in the spring of either their second, third or fourth year.

Adult salmon remain at sea for between two and four winters feeding off krill, herring and sand eels, covering vast distances to reach the rich feeding grounds in the cold north waters.

The salmon return to same river from which they hatched to spawn. What makes this journey all the more remarkable is that once these fascinating fish have returned to fresh water they do not feed and can go many months without food.

Those that make it and spawn successfully end up exhausted and weak. Many will die before making the journey back to sea but for those lucky few that do survive they are able to regain their strength in order to make the journey again.

Scientists estimate that only around 5% of salmon that have spawned (kelts) that make it back to sea, and survive, are able to make it back to spawn in our rivers! (Scottish Natural Heritage website).

Image by Laurie Campbell

Image by Laurie Campbell

Best Conditions To Watch Salmon Leap

The best time to see salmon leaping is in October or November after heavy rain especially if it follows a dry spell. The salmon will jump repeatedly at waterfalls or other obstacles and it often takes several attempts for them have success.

There is no guaranteed time to see salmon leap as it all depends on conditions, if conditions have been favourable more salmon will have successfully overcome the obstacle leaving fewer to watch. The best way to ensure you are there are the right time is to ask locals.

As with most wildlife spectacle it is best viewing conditions early in the morning or in the evening as this is when the salmon are most active.

Best Places to Watch Salmon Leaping

Philiphaugh Salmon Viewing Centre

Close to Selkirk in Southern Scotland the Philiphaugh Salmon Viewing Centre makes a great day out for all the family. Not only can you visit the cauld to see the salmon leaping up the fish ladder (in the right conditions) but you can watch the underwater world of the salmon on the interactive video screen and choose from four different cameras around the edge of the Etterick river. The link below takes you to the centres web pages giving you more information on things to do for the whole family.

Also :
Stainforth Force: River Ribble to the North of Settle in the Yorkshire Dales.

Buchanty Spout: Easter Glenalmond, near Crieff

Linn of Tummel: by Pitlochry

Falls of Braan: The Hermitage, Dunkeld

Cargill’s Leap: River Ericht, Blairgowrie

For more information on salmon please visit the following websites:




Article by Lizzy Dening You can follow Lizzy on Twitter or go to her website