Knowing the age of your prize salmon has always been a little illusive for the angler. A few scales from the fish will usually provide an answer but this can take time and experience in reading scales is also required. In addition with catch and release much more prevalent along the river collecting scales can be a little more difficult prior to releasing the fish. However, help is at hand! Using data from the Spey and several other Scottish rivers the SALWRD fish calculator has been developed by Marine Scotland Science and Strathclyde University.
The sea age of salmon is determined by the number of winters they spend at sea. For example grilse have only spent one winter at sea so their age is 1SW, while spring salmon have often spent two or more winters at sea and so will be either 2SW or 3SW. Very few Scottish salmon survive to spawn for a second time so the great majority of fish caught in Scotland will be in one of the three sea-age classes (1SW, 2SW, 3SW).
The SALWRD Single Fish Calculator allows you to enter the length or weight of your fish along with the date-of-capture and the sea age will be determined. So if you have these details to hand click on the link below and find out the sea age of your salmon.
The SALWRD website aims to assist anglers and fishery managers in Scotland determine the sea ages of captured salmon. This can now be achieved with high confidence (for over 95% of captured salmon) if the size of the fish and its date of capture are known. However, scale samples are still vital to our understanding of the salmon populations and if you collect any scales please place them in a paper envelope, with details of the date, capture location and size of the fish. Then send them along with your address to: The Spey Foundation, 1 Nether Borlum Cottage, Knockando, Morayshire, AB38 7SD, to be read and we will let you know the results.
For further details on the science underpinning the SALWRD sea age calculator click on the links below: