A tale of a fallen tree and spawning salmon

Monday, 8th January 2018

This picture is interesting for at least a couple of reasons. It’s a view of a short section of the Itchen Navigation Canal, a once-important trading route carrying coal from Southampton to Winchester. The canal became defunct around 140 years ago, but it’s apparent from this photograph that, despite the confines of housing on its right bank, benign neglect is mending the canal, in some places helping it to become reasonable habitat for wildlife, including trout.

Testament to that habitat improvement (and the second interesting bit in the photo) is that the Navigation has some really good areas for spawning for trout and salmon. In this place, a tree has fallen across, then settled, in the river, doing great work at deflecting the flow and creating scours that have produced lovely, clean gravel downstream, of such quality that salmon have used this spot to dig the two huge redds, visible as clean gravel patches in the bottom left quarter of the photo. The hole scoured under that tree will also act as a great bolt-hole, helping the fish feel that bit more secure during spawning. These gravels are also littered with much smaller trout redds, not visible in the shot.

itchen salmon redds

We at WTT bang on about the value of trees and wood in creating habitat in rivers; here’s proof indeed. The camera never lies.