Leap of Faith

Thursday, 19th August 2004, page 1 of 2
Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

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Kevin Sunderland of the Aire and Calder Rivers Group remembers me asking the question in this diary; 'Will salmon ever return to the Calder?'. Today he writes:

'The answer, I think, is yes. I believe I saw a couple today at the foot of Kirkthorpe Weir, Wakefield. I went specifically to look for them following the recent floods. In my opinion, Kirkthorpe is the highest point on the Calder that they can get to. The Environment Agency will tell you that they were large trout but I don't think so.

'We know that salmon are now going up the Don, and they have also been seen at Thwaites Mill, Stourton in Leeds. If they turn up the Calder at Castleford instead of going up the Aire, there are no major obstacles before Kirkthorpe.

'I saw 3 fish today. One may have been a trout. Another one made a prodigious leap at the weir and my immediate reaction was that it was a salmon. The last one leapt about 3 feet vertically about 10 yards downstream of the weir. There's no guarantees but I think it was a salmon. They won't get up the weir so if there are any more heavy rains over the next month or so, I think that they will be leaping again.' Next Page

Maker's plate, Kirkthorpe Weir sluice gate

Maker's plate, the sluice gate, Kirkthorpe Weir.
There were probably still salmon in the Calder in 1827. In medieval times Wakefield had a Fishers' Guild. Even later than this salmon was in such plentiful supply that apprentices' indentures included a clause that the master should not serve fish more than an agreed number of times per week.

Kirkthorpe Weir

Pool below the weir

The sluice gate; should we now be thinking of installing a salmon ladder here?

Appeal for Information

If you know of other salmon sightings on the Aire and Calder, or if you would like to help in getting salmon and other migratory fish up these rivers, please e-mail: Kevin Sunderland

Related Links

Calder Future: a partnership to improve the River Calder, its tributaries and bankside

Environment Agency

Richard Bell, richard@willowisland.co.uk

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