SALMON have been spotted trying to scale Sprotbrough Falls on the River Don near Doncaster for the first time in nearly two hundred years.

A local angler contacted the Environment Agency to congratulate their fisheries staff on the efforts they have made to improve fisheries stocks on the Don. Staff from the local team were delighted with the news of the return of one of the world’s pickiest fish.

The angler e-mailed the Agency to give his congratulations, “I would like to inform the Environment Agency of salmon trying to scale Sprotbrough falls. Three salmon in 10 minutes last week, a marvellous sight and one I thought I would never see in my life time (sic). I would like to congratulate the Agency for their work on the rivers in this area and around the country.”

“It makes it all worthwhile,” said Chris Firth, Fisheries Technical Specialist. “I’m a keen angler myself and it’s great that we have such good quality fishing opportunities in South Yorkshire these days.

“There was a time when all you could hope to catch in the Don was an old boot. But thanks to improvements in the water quality, largely due to investment by Yorkshire Water and local industry, and all the work our teams have done ensuring the environment is protected and enhanced for fish to thrive, we can welcome back the salmon to these waters.”

A rock chute fish pass installed at Doncaster in 2000 at a cost of over £1million has allowed the salmon to progress this far up the river system. The installation of the fish pass was the first stage in addressing the issue of fish passage on the River Don. There are many weirs on the river which are obstacles to all sorts of fish and the Agency are considering a number of options in their long term plan to improve fish passage on the river.

Recent river quality results, released in September 2003, show further improvements in water quality and fisheries surveys indicate the river now supports fish throughout its length.

The improvements have allowed not only salmon, but sea trout, eels and several other species to move further up the River Don system. Eels are particularly important as they are the main food source for otters, another species making a welcome return to the Don.