Monday, July 02, 2007

Salmon in Haweswater??

The above photograph was taken on Friday evening at the top end of Haweswater. It is of a dead fish which I recovered from the bed of Mardale beck at the point where it enters the reservoir and looks for all the world to me like a salmon kelt.

This poses a number of questions/ possible scenarios, which I list below:

1. Is the fish actually a salmon? It certainly looks like one to me. I’ve never seen a spawned out brownie which looks anything like that!

2. If it is indeed a kelt, how did it come to be lying in the main feeder beck of a reservoir? To the best of my knowledge, there is no fish pass at the dam end of Haweswater and the dam itself is obviously impassable. Furthermore, I have fished parts of the outflow – Haweswater Beck – and I would have said that there are sections of this (little waterfalls etc), which would act as a barrier to migratory fish, even in spate conditions.

3. There is a smolt farm at Burneside, just down the road. Could it be that a few fish have been placed in Haweswater from this establishment? If so, would they survive to grow to the sort of size of the fish I found (which I would estimate to be around the 4lb mark when in full condition)? I doubt it, as salmon need to return to their marine feeding grounds to gain weight. A relatively oligotrophic such as Haweswater would almost certainly lack the natural food required to nourish such fish.
I really don’t know the answer to this one and would be grateful for any suggestions you might have……..


Gareth Lewis said...

Hi Matthew,

Just stumbled upon your site today, and was very impressed.

Brilliant photo's and very enjoyable entries!

Keep up the good work!


dave stocker said...

Just spoken with an EA officer in Penrith. There is a large inflow on the Burnbanks side that is in fact connected to a beck that could get salmon running up it.

Matthew Eastham said...

Ah yes! Thanks for that. I had earlier consulted my friend Patrick Arnold and his EA contacts pretty much said the same - it is unusual, but not impossible to find salmon in the reservoir.
Thanks for your help!

Robin Dearden said...

Hi Matt
I must have had too much to drink on that Geography reunion night... Since then I regularly keep up to date with your blog, although I have to admit I have not got the foggiest what you are on about most of the time - aprt from the nice mention of 'oligotrophic' on this post (took me back..).
As discussed we must meet up for a wander in the hills sometime...
Cheers dude

Dave Stocker said...

Matt, are you aware of a book called 'The English Lake District Fisheries' written by John Watson in 1899?

Every lake is written about in varying degrees of detail. Lots to re-evaluate! To buy a copy, they can be got for between £25 and £70 from Or call my pal and antiquarian bookseller David Grayling in Shap, on 01931 716746