For anglers who are passionate about fishing in UK rivers, the excitement of hooking a prized catch like salmon or sea trout is unmatched. However, for those who are new to these species, telling the difference between them can be a challenge. While both salmon and sea trout share some similarities, such as their preference for freshwater rivers, they have distinct differences in their appearance that can help anglers crack the code. In this blog post, we will provide a handy guide to deciphering the appearance of UK river salmon and sea trout, helping anglers identify these elusive fish with confidence.
Size and Shape: One of the first clues to identifying salmon and sea trout is their size and shape. Salmon are generally larger and more robust, with a streamlined body and a powerful tail fin. They can grow to impressive sizes, with some species reaching over 30 pounds in weight. Sea trout, on the other hand, are usually smaller and more slender, with a streamlined body and a smaller tail fin. They typically range in size from a few pounds to around 10 pounds, although larger specimens can be found in some rivers.
Coloration: The coloration of salmon and sea trout is another key characteristic to look for. Salmon are known for their distinctive silvery appearance, with a bright metallic sheen that reflects the light. They have a dark back and silver sides, with small black spots scattered along their body. As they migrate upstream to spawn, their coloration can change, with some salmon developing a darker hue and a hooked jaw known as a "kype". Sea trout, on the other hand, have a more varied coloration. They can range from silver to brown or even greenish, depending on their age and the environment they inhabit. They also have small black spots on their body, but these spots are usually more numerous and larger than those of salmon.
Fins: The fins of salmon and sea trout can also provide clues to their identification. Salmon have a distinctively large and powerful tail fin, known as the caudal fin, which is deeply forked and allows them to swim with great speed and agility. They also have small fins called pectoral fins located behind their gills, which are used for balance and steering. Sea trout, on the other hand, have smaller and less pronounced fins compared to salmon. Their caudal fin is usually less forked, and their pectoral fins are smaller and less noticeable.
Head Shape: The shape of the head can also differ between salmon and sea trout. Salmon often have a more elongated head with a pronounced snout and a hooked jaw, or "kype", especially in males during the spawning season. Sea trout, on the other hand, have a more rounded head with a shorter snout and a less pronounced jaw.
Spots: While both salmon and sea trout have spots on their body, the size, color, and distribution of these spots can differ. Salmon typically have small black spots scattered along their body, which can vary in size and shape. Sea trout, on the other hand, often have larger and more numerous spots, which can be black or red in color. These spots are usually more prominent on the back and sides of sea trout, giving them a distinct appearance.
In conclusion, while salmon and sea trout may share some similarities, such as their preference for rivers and their migratory behaviour, there are clear differences in their appearance that can help anglers tell them apart. By paying attention to their size, shape, coloration, fins, head shape, and spots, anglers can decipher the code and confidently identify whether they have hooked a salmon or a sea trout. Tight lines!