Do Salmon colour up at sea?

The Flying Scotsman

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The local burn that runs through Dundee gets a run of salmon some years not every year. I’ve seen the stretch below the weir 2 mins from my door stuffed with fish before all coloured. It’s always the end of October if it happens.
Thing is this weir is less than a half mile from the sea. There’s no holding pools between the weir and the sea and I’ve never seen any fish sitting in the burn other than the weir.
So why are these fish coloured?
They haven’t sat in the burn for longer than a week or so.
They definitely haven’t been up stream and fallen back and there’s no other rivers close.
Have they coloured up at sea?
 

Andrew B

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Maybe not, albeit going back to the days when we took them home to eat, fish that had been waiting in the salt for a long time would often turn colour after dispatching em. Which would indicate to me that even in the salt, once salmon are programmed in to not feeding and getting up river, there are changes taking place off the river mouth?
As Loxie mentioned about estuaries, salmon will often swim up and drop back on each tide, which for sure colours them up.
I’ve had October fish in 2012 that was like a springer and must of been months away from spawning colours.
 

lax0341

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Some colour up at sea around the entrances of the estuaries. But in my experience more seatrout than salmon use to have this behavior.
 

Hardyreels

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The combination of Natures Clock and brackish water / fresh water will trigger the pituitary gland which will begin the secretion of hormones to reproductive organs. Another and more visible effect of those two factures will be pigmentation change as well as some general morphological changes such as extended lower mandible and tooth growth / extension.

I didn't look those items up so you may want to reference for yourself but ............ I've been around salmon for nearly 40 years and have read plenty regarding reproduction and migrations.
 

The Flying Scotsman

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I fished the estuary for years in my wee boat for sea trout and did see the odd salmon come out but never caught one. It would of been good to work out where they sit in the estuary waiting to run this wee burn.
 

Hardyreels

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If I understand your regional terminology a Burn is a very small stream that becomes more full after a Spate of rain, is that close? If this is the case one would think that any salmon of significant size entering and traveling up such a Spate flow might need to be turned and ready to get with spawning if that were the intent. Or perhaps they move up then fall back with the flows?

Feel free to school me on this because I really don't know what goes on over there.

Ard
 

KChrome

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Having previously caught salmon approx. 10 miles from the sea, on a northern spate river, that was in it's spawning livery with long tail sealice I would guess that either they have coloured up at sea or more probably in the brackish water awaiting a spate and prior to running?
 

Gustav

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It is not about the water being fresh or salt.
It is about the sexual maturation process.
Salmon farms at sea have long had an occasional problem called 'grilsing' when fish start colouring at sea.

Likewise the fabled 'osenka' or our own early springers don't start colouring when they arrive in rivers unlike Autumn fish who colour up fast.
 

Rennie

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I've had fish from the Tay at Perth that were absolutely black and dripping in long tailed lice!.
Was quite a while ago now usually in September.
Pedro.
 

Jockiescott

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We didn't really notice them on the Faughan, but 10 miles down the road on the river Roe, they always had a run of late fish that they called 'The Copper Run'. As others have said, many of them were sea liced but they had a very copper colour to them.

I'm really not sure where they started colouring but they were fresh run fish that were already well coloured.
 

nickolas

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Who’s to say they haven’t been sitting in another river, it’s well known that salmon will go back to sea, some people say around 10% of fish don’t return to there native river to spawn which I can believe. I know springers will go to sea and return in the autumn. It’s very noticeable quickly fish colour up in rivers in the far north of Norway, where the season is very short. This has been a very dry year so possibly the fish have been sitting else where waiting for the river conditions to be right to enable to run. I just seen more fish this year siting in no more than 4 inch’s of water with there dorsal and tail fin out of the water.
 

goosander

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Had a tartan cock fish 26 lbs. with a lot of long tailed sea lice on it one October. A lot of the fish we get after a low water spell are brown on there backs were they have been lying on the gravel banks.
Bob.
 

Loxie

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It's interesting about colouring before spawning. Tweed fish come in silver at the end of November and presumably spawn quite soon after? Fowey fish used to regularly be caught in mid December bright silver, but sometimes the Cocks would be dropping milt.
 

marty31

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It's interesting about colouring before spawning. Tweed fish come in silver at the end of November and presumably spawn quite soon after? Fowey fish used to regularly be caught in mid December bright silver, but sometimes the Cocks would be dropping milt.
The tweed fish used too? Passed tense? Theres not much after August now!
 

rotenone

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You get coloured fish on the tidal of the Moy August ams September , fresh run but with Autumn colours they are called harvest fish there
 

The Flying Scotsman

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If I understand your regional terminology a Burn is a very small stream that becomes more full after a Spate of rain, is that close? If this is the case one would think that any salmon of significant size entering and traveling up such a Spate flow might need to be turned and ready to get with spawning if that were the intent. Or perhaps they move up then fall back with the flows?

Feel free to school me on this because I really don't know what goes on over there.

Ard
Yes a burn is a small spate stream.
The weir they get held up at is impassable all of the time unless after a spate so the fish definitely haven’t been holding up further up river and dropped back.
After the replies I’ve had I now recon they are sitting in the estuary waiting on a spate at the end of October.
 

mows

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MIK had a well coloured licer a couple weeks back at Balmkewan.
I think they can colour up in the estuary.
But as per some tagging experiments carried out on the Esks a while ago.
It was surprising just how many fish ran up a river and then dropped back to go up another.
I seem to remember some even went up the Northie and then the Dee and Spey.
 

FaughanPurple

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We didn't really notice them on the Faughan, but 10 miles down the road on the river Roe, they always had a run of late fish that they called 'The Copper Run'. As others have said, many of them were sea liced but they had a very copper colour to them.

I'm really not sure where they started colouring but they were fresh run fish that were already well coloured.
The Copper Run, Copper Back and Black School are all late run coloured fish from the tidal Foyle that you hear talked about. That continue well after 20th October.

The counters would also back up fish running all year round although less in the Auntum the last 10 years or so..

I do know I still see all colours of fish running on the last the of season floods but none of the coloured up fish I've ever caught have had lice and we're one of the rivers closest to the coast on the system.
 

FaughanPurple

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Is it possible that lice from the silver tide fresh fish we used to get in numbers. Transfered to the coloured up river fish while they bunched together in lies??
 

Roag Fisher

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Fish will colour up in the sea/estuary for the same reason as the roe will mature and kypes grow.
On Lewis it is suspected some fish drop out of the bigger burns and run up adjacent ditches just prior to spawning. So it may be the fish you are seeing are droppers from the Tay or Earn, or both.
 

The Flying Scotsman

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Fish will colour up in the sea/estuary for the same reason as the roe will mature and kypes grow.
On Lewis it is suspected some fish drop out of the bigger burns and run up adjacent ditches just prior to spawning. So it may be the fish you are seeing are droppers from the Tay or Earn, or both.
It’s a possibility as the run is sporadic. I wonder if it depends on conditions in the Tay and earn?
 
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