Abstract Advances in the field of telemetry techniques during the last few decades have greatly expanded our knowledge on migratory behaviour and provided the opportunity to obtain practically useful data for the conservation and management of salmonid populations. However, applying this information to the development of much needed population-based migration models has been limited. Furthermore, this research has generally been restricted to assessing the role of river flow on fish movement. Models derived from a 6-year telemetry study on the movements of Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., and sea trout, Salmo trutta L., in the River Tyne are presented together with an assessment of counter data from the same river to highlight the importance of additional environmental and physiological parameters in regulating fish movement. The data are discussed in relation to the advantages of telemetry data, the need to develop predictive models, the statistical methods used and the potential direction of future work in this area.