Q: Do kelts or baggots need to be recorded in my logbook?
A: Yes. All salmon (or sea trout over 40cm) caught need to be recorded in an anglers logbook. This is both a legal requirement and for gathering scientific data. Any salmon caught which is clearly a kelt from the previous season should be clearly identified as such in the entry. This is very useful data for Inland Fisheries Ireland so we appreciate anglers’ assistance in identifying such catches. If you’re not sure how to recognise a kelt see here (link to Q below).
Q: What is a kelt?
A: After spawning a salmon is called a kelt. A kelt is normally in poor condition but recovering to go to sea. In the act they would be termed unseasonable fish. Kelts start to drop downstream and begin eating to recover their condition. Female fish are the most likely to survive spawning because they head downstream immediately after laying their eggs. However, males remain in the vicinity of the redds looking for new females and fighting amongst themselves to mate with them. As a result, the majority of male kelts die in the rivers. The nutrients from their dead bodies are recycled into the food chain and benefit future generations.
Q: What is a baggot?
A baggot has different interpretations. Some say they are late running fish that never spawned or which have still to spawn. Others say they are fish which for some reason have failed to spawn at the appropriate time. In such cases the eggs may be degenerating and no longer viable. Either way baggots would also be termed unseasonable fish.
Q: How can I identify a kelt?
A: A kelt can be fully silvered but with a bit of a blue hue and can sometimes be mistaken for ‘clean’ fish (one which has entered the river and yet to spawn). However, kelts are in poor condition compared with clean fish, being thin and lanky in appearance with a soft body. The vent is often distended due to spawning and the belly is flat and hollow. Its fins and tail may be damaged or torn and it could have maggots in the gills. Kelts are aggressive feeders and easily caught. They often rest in slower areas of rivers.
Q: How can I identify a baggot?
A: Baggots are generally well proportioned and dark coloured, not dissimilar in appearance to coloured hens but their bellies are flabby. However, baggots can be distinguished from coloured hens by their soft flesh, distended bellies and sometimes open vents. Baggots can sometimes be caught in the spring on early rivers.