The Wild Perthshire Salmon Leap

posted in: Photography | 37

Every autumn along the River Almond I look forward to watching the wild Perthshire salmon leap as they make their way to their Scottish spawning grounds. Five years earlier these fish hatched in this river. For the next  2 or 3 years they lived in the river until they were mature enough to leave and swim down to the sea. Now after travelling up to 2,500 miles from their Greenland and the North Atlantic feeding areas they have made their way ‘back home’ to the same river they were once hatched in to find a mate.

These fish were created with a great migratory instinct to be able to find their way back to their ‘home river’.

Their determination and agility is amazing to watch. The timing is always important for viewing the salmon leaping and up until the middle of October 2013 the water level was too low for the fish to make it far up river. Once the rains arrived last weekend I knew that we’d start to see a lot of activity along certain parts of the river as the water levels increased.

Perthshire Salmon Leap – Aeronautical Display

Perthshire salmon leap vertically out of the water
Perthshire salmon leap vertically out of the spray

The fish are tired and exhausted by the time they’ve reached this part of the river. In fact they haven’t eaten since spring!

two Perthshire salmon leap in the air
Perthshire salmon leap, twist and turn
Despite their exhaustion they still are determined to fight their way through the roaring turbulent water and spray.
A dog barking as perthshire salmon leap
who can move the fastest?

The day I was taking these photographs only a few of the fish were moving up through the weir. The force of the current was much too strong.

They kept trying though!

two perthshire salmon leap
Perthshire salmon leap again and again as they battle against the current
They used their fins to propel themselves through the force of the water and as they leaped, twisted and turned in the air.
perthshire salmon leap in the air
a salmon aeronautical display
Once they finally make it to their spawning site they’ll find a mate. Then lay about 10,000 eggs in the riverbed.
Many of these eggs will then hatch out the following Spring. As a result a new generation of Scottish salmon will begin all over again.
Back in 2010 I made a short video of the salmon leaping along this part of the river.
I really need to make a new one in HD format!

I’ve only including a few wildlife photographs in the blog post. However you can view the whole album here: Salmon Leaping In Perthshire.

Follow Rosie Nixon:

Photography Tutor and Gardener

Rosie is a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at one of Scotland's only photography galleries - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh. She also writes and shares her nature images on

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37 Responses

  1. Catherine@AGardenerinProgress

    What a beautiful place for a walk! I loved watching the salmon leap. Living in the western part of Washington state we are very careful to not dump anything in our street sewers because so much of them end up running into salmon spawning streams.
    Not far from us are salmon ladders which allow the salmon to go from the the salt water into the fresh water lakes. We love watching the salmon make their way up the ladder to return to their spawning grounds. It's a fascinating part of nature.

  2. Gerry Snape

    rosie…What a wonderful post! Absolutely stunning. thankyou so much for putting this up. the determination and tenacity of these amazing creatures is a real lesson in life I think. to go against the current because that's the thing to do in your life. Well I will watch it again and again!!

  3. Mildred

    All of my life, I have heard about the salmon but I have never witnessed them first hand. What fabulous videos and photos. Thank you so much for sharing the beauty and wonder of your world.

  4. Katie

    Thanks for telling me about this on here!! The kids and I loved watching your videos over and over and over. It was pretty exciting to see them jump! 🙂

  5. PatioPatch

    Dear Rosie – A glorious homecoming and what a miraculous sight. Stunning stills and great vid. Lovely, lovely, lovely

    Laura x

  6. Curbstone Valley Farm

    Great post Rosie, I love the videos, and your still photos are fantastic! Unfortunately, here on the Pacific Coast of California, our salmon populations have been in steep decline. I'm not even sure where to go locally to see scenes like this anymore.

  7. Ginny

    The salmon are truly amazing! Your video and photos are fantastic. Thanks for a terrific post.

  8. lotusleaf

    Wow! What a post! I have read about the salmon going back to the river of their birth, but had not really believed it. Your videos are simply wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Meredehuit ♥

    I've seen the Salmon many times when I lived in Oregon, it is always a sight to behold… And most interesting that they always go back to where they were born. Love this post, it never occured to me that the same scene was playing out on the other side of the world.

  10. Liz

    Hi Rosie,

    I remember watching the Salmon leaping at Falls of Shin when I was young and we stayed in Dornoch or Embo up on the Dornoch Firth.
    This time of year we'd have Salmon, or alternatively we'd often visit in Spring and would marvel at the Bluebells.
    These days we now go further south – to the Cairngorms so never have the chance to see the falls anymore.

    Wonderful 🙂

  11. Jim Groble

    Rosie, The vids were wonderful. I have never seen a salmon run in person. Your vids brought the experience closer than National Geographic. Very cool. Thanks

  12. kanak7

    I've only read about the salmon returning to spawn but to see videos of them actually doing so…!! Loved them all and your photographs too. Your area is very beautiful. Love that photo with the little bridge that leads to Bluebell Wood.

  13. Gail

    The video is still on and I can hear the river! What a sound and what a sight~The calm lade and the rushing river what a contrast. Salmon are amazing~thank you for sharing it! gail

  14. April Lorier

    You're right: you and I were on the same wave length today!

    I used to go fishing with my dad, so I have seen salmon and other fish do their leaping. Marvelous!

    Your photos of the lade are just spectacular, Rosie. I wish you could put together a book of your area.

    BTW, what's axminster carpet?

  15. leavesnbloom

    April here's a definition of this famous UK brand of carpet

    Axminster Carpet: A distinguished type of carpet because of its vast variety of color and the patterns.

  16. Melanie

    Those are wonderful photos of the salmon leaping up the river Rosie. Here in BC this year was a record for numbers of salmon returning to spawn.


    Great photos of salmon. Video, too. Salmon are beautiful fish. We have them in the Niagara River.I never saw them leap. They would have a tough time leaping up the falls.

  18. Carol

    Rosie, This is such a amazing phenomenon. One of nature's true marvels. Your post is fabulous . . . you have some great shots of the leaping salmon. Your walk is so beautiful! I enjoyed the stunning landscape photography, videos and your lovely writing. ;>)

  19. James Missier

    Its really cool to have a refreshing walk and enjoy this natural place.
    BTW – do you get to catch those Salmon after they have spawned?

  20. leavesnbloom

    I'm not really into fishing Jim but you need a license to fish here and you can only fish at certain times of the year. The bailiffs are out in force at this time of year to make sure no one poaches the salmon as they leap.

  21. Edith Hope

    Dear Rosie, Of course I have heard about Salmon leaping but I have never seen it happen personally. so, your posting is a real treat and how clever of you to show little films of it happening. It is, indeed, an amazing sight.

    There is, in my view, nothing to compare with the taste of wild Salmon!

  22. debsgarden

    Rosie, I really enjoy this post! I did not even know you had salmon in your part of the world! I certainly learned something. The scenery alone is worth the walk, but the leaping salmon would have had me there for hours. Thanks for sharing!

  23. Rose

    The lade is so beautiful–what a wonderful place to walk! But as lovely as the walk was through this area, I was even more excited to see the salmon. I can understand why you would have stayed in this place for an hour just to watch. They are spellbinding, and it's just amazing how far they have travelled to get here. Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Rosie!

  24. Andrea

    We don't have salmon here in nature,but i know they do that. I seem to feel that is so romantic for them to take risk of their lives just to give their offsprings the same legacy. And there's always a mystery laden in their story, and your river looks mysterious too. I pity them when they leap and then drop by below the small falls, how sad. I wonder what percentage were able to reach the spawning site. If only we can fathom the beginning why they do that, it seems like they do not have the facility in their brains to adjust to the changing environment, or their aclimatizing mechanism is absent. Oh hoy mysterious, i dont know!

  25. One

    Marvelous post, Rosie! I saw the salmon leaping in the video. They are amazingly strong to go against the current. Wonderful photos.

  26. Susan

    Wow! After reading this post, I feel like I've been on a beautiful autumn vacation! I'm just dying to share this with my mom!
    What a beautiful fall you are having there!
    Thanks for stopping by my modest little blog.

  27. hazeltree

    Hi Rosie, how delightful and such fun to spot the salmon jumping…and what a lovely name for a river…almond…i am guessing you do not have many almond trees in the locale? the Duke and Duchess went on a fishing trip up in Scotland and brought me back a wild salmon and it was delicious!

  28. Autumn Belle

    I have never seen a salmon leap in real life. I am so lucky to witness this phenomenon here and glad you recorded it.

  29. Jeri Landers

    This post lead me to your explanation of the "lade" in a previous post and I read it with fascinated interest. I love learning these bits and pieces of history through your site. Thanks for the time and effort you put into your writing!

  30. shirl

    Hi there Rosie, sorry I meant to leave a comment here when I spotted this. I love see if I recognise the areas in your postings. Not sure on this one 😀

    What a lovely walk but the salmon images are fantastic. Great videos and even without a tripod you got some good clear photos. It's been a while since I've spotted jumping salmon in the wild. Having lived near Pitlochry (until age 17) I do remember being fascinated by Salmon jumping at the Ladder there.

    BTW nice to see your face on NBN. I've been a member there for ages although I'm not sure if I have the correct logo on my blog. Great to see things moving forward there. I don't use/follow Twitter. Need I do anything there re my feeds?

  31. Bonnie

    Your pictures look like the area of New York State where I live. We live in Salmon country – it's prime salmon fishing season here. The fishermen stand in our river below a dam to fish. A few men have had to be rescued from the river this year. I am visiting Scotland – something I've wanted to do for years. Can't wait to see your country.

  32. Abhishek Behl (Wild Navigator)

    Thanks and good to have come across your blog – i stay in scotland and will make my way to Perthshire to see this amazing salmon ladder jumps. Fascinating to see the strength these fish have against the current. Thanks for sharing ….