Hatfield-based angler Stephen Abbott got the shock of his life while perch fishing a local canal recently... he caught a kelt!
Stephen was targeting perch with a waggler-fished double lobworm hookbait when the seriously off course, spent salmon put in an appearance. It weighed 4lb 7oz but could have weighed around 7lb as a fresh-run fish.
'Kelts' are salmon which have migrated up rivers and successfully spawned.
When they return from the sea salmon are a bright silver colour and are carrying packed on weight reserves to allow them to spend months in freshwater in order to spawn, during which time they don't eat.
As they spend more time in a river both male and hen salmon adopt their spawning colours turning from bright silver to pale brown and eventually turning deep red or almost black.
Those fish that survive the arduous journey and months of starvation then lose their spawning colours turning back to a silvery hue. These kelts can be distinguished from spring salmon just starting their spawning run by body shape - because they haven't eaten for so long kelts are thin and emaciated and need to get back to sea quickly in order to start feeding again.
How this fish came to be in the New Junction Canal near Doncaster is anyone's guess. It might have initially run up the Don or the Trent and then got lost on its return journey to the North Sea.
Even though they don't feed in freshwater salmon can be caught on flies, spinners, lures and nutural baits like worms and prawns. It is believed they fall for such lures and baits because they trigger conditioned reflexes in the fish which grab them out of habit. Alternatively, being territorial fish, salmon could grab them because they have invaded their 'lie'.