Cold Water Salmon Fishing
By Jock Monteith 19th November 2017
With the vast majority of the Scottish salmon rivers now closed for the 2017 fishing season most salmon fisher's thoughts are already drifting onto the re-opening of our rivers in the early Spring of 2018. The closed season is a great time to service and renew various components of your fishing kit and think about your tactical approaches for next year.
Back On The Salmon River In January
It's always a welcome relief to get the salmon rod back in your hands after the Winter shutdown and to feel the magnetic pull of the Scottish salmon rivers once again. Personally when I'm commuting to any salmon river there's a great sense of excitement to see what the water conditions are doing and meet other professional ghillies and fishing guests. This social side is a big part of salmon fishing as being in the company of like minded people in the most amazing river environments truly beats any other form of social life I've ever seen.
Meeting The Salmon Fishing Guests
As a head ghillie on the River Tay I used used to love the first hour of the day when guests were arriving and equipment was being built up over a coffee or sometimes even a dram. Discussing fishing tactics was also something that fascinated me and quickly assessing and playing each guest to their fishing strengths was my daily objective to maximise the beat's 'effective' salmon pool coverage.
Early Season Salmon Fishing Advice
In the early Spring fishing months of January, February and March my consistent message to all fishing guests was to stay focussed on your fly's swing spacings and make sure your salmon fly is swimming approximately one foot under the surface and not too fast or deep in the cold water. The logic behind these 2 main points are that if your water coverage was good enough you'd eventually present your fly in front of a fish and if that fly was swimming nice and steadily at that depth you'd be making it easy for a salmon to intercept it in the cold Spring water conditions.
Salmon Hold High In The Water Column
Contrary to popular belief an early Spring salmon in very cold water conditions will be holding in the top 2 feet of the water column where the warmer water thermals are to be found. If salmon are on the move they will also be running at this depth range so your fly will also be in front of a fish if it pauses for a rest. A deeper holding position for non running salmon will only be found when the river warms up usually once April and May arrive.
Sunlight Is Good In Early Spring
This beautiful picture of the River Tay was taken during February on a perfect settled water Spring salmon fishing day. This kind of bright sunlight is a 'gift from God' on the Tay at that time of the year and especially if there's been a hard frost the night before as the warmth on a salmon's back makes a huge difference to its state of alertness to take a fly. This sunlight also brings to life any type of sparkly features that have been tied into your salmon fly like a Christmas tree with its fairy lights switched on!
Spring Salmon Fishing In Scotland
Spring fishing in Scotland has in recent years has become the most desirable part of the season for many salmon fishers for various good reasons and the capture of a hard fighting fresh run Atlantic salmon on a fly rod is indeed a true pinnacle for any fisher. The perfect condition of these fine specimens are in a league of their own and on a bright day like what you see here where hooking a salmon is a good possibility the silver flash and adrenalin shot you'll receive from hooking a 'Springer' will become a permanent feature in your memory banks.