Doing Your Salmon Permit Justice
By Jock Monteith 8th October 2021
What's the point in buying an often expensive salmon fishing permit to then turn up unprepared or unskilled on the salmon river. A basic level of tactical awareness should be mandatory in this business even though many fishers likely wouldn't understand it was for their own benefit and success in the sport.
Synchronised Catch Statistic Recording
Imagine if the A9 or M8 was full of drivers that had never taking a driving lesson (not that you wouldn't already think that anyway!) and just how much danger and frustration would evolve! If you look at any business or pursuit there's usually some form of training involved but not in Scottish salmon fishing. We have also developed this 'catch stats' theme as the 'be all and end all' of the business but who's 'catch stat'ing the quality of the fishing effort? From what I see the 'catch stats' recording is actually in perfect 'synchronicity' with the competent salmon fishers who turn up on the numerous Scottish salmon beats and show the majority of anglers how to put a fish in the landing net.
Acquire Some Professional Fine Tuning
While many professional ghillies often won't voice this for fear of upsetting their 'permit only' clients too many fishers who turn up on the rivers of Scotland have noticeable flaws in their salmon fishing approach which could very easily be rectified via an instructional & tactical awareness guided salmon fishing day. The male ego being what it is can make it tricky to approach an established fishing guests who's been fishing for decades to tell him he's virtually wasting his time fishing like that. Often it's just easier for a professional salmon ghillie to just observe a poor tactical fishing approach and say nothing to preserve the client relationship as many established fishers won't take kindly to bad news about their own tactical grasp!
Your Wading Boots Are Your Real Weapon
One of the biggest errors I've personally noticed by the vast majority of salmon anglers is thinking that they can 'heron' over a 'showing' fish and pester that salmon into taking. Sometimes the fish that shows can be caught but if that doesn't happen in the first 2 or 3 spaced swings of the fly in its general location where depth, speed and size of fly has been considered then the chances are it's just acting as a decoy for the 'taker' who's lying 400 yards downstream that good riverbank movement would otherwise get your fly in front of! Your wading boots (and how they move on the riverbed) are your best and completely under rated 'weapon' when pursuing the 'King of Fish' and more so than any other item in your entire salmon fishing kit!
Salmon & Trout Hooking Differences
Whatever the catch rate for an individual salmon beat or river is I strongly believe (based on what I've personally seen) that theses catch rates would at least be doubled if salmon fishers truly knew how to consistently convert salmon takes into landed fish via an effective & logic backed hooking procedure. As kids most of us were already pre-programmed to react immediately when a trout boiled at your bob or tail fly. In salmon fishing the reaction to the take is a complete 'polar opposite' to trout fishing and more akin to how you'd deal with a pike after it has picked up and run off with a dead bait! Knowing exactly how to 'effectively' deal with the hard earned salmon take is crucial for success in this sport and for doing justice to the salmon beat you are fishing.
Correct Salmon Fishing Kit Levels
There's no point turning up with antiquated salmon fishing kit that Uncle Fred left that was found in the loft above Auntie Fanny's garage! The salmon fishing rods that are around these days you can either pay a fortune for or pick up the same (or sometimes better) salmon rod action for a few hundred pounds like the lovely actioned Airflo Delta (or V2) 15ft 10/11 or 14ft 9/10 as good examples. A good reel and multi purpose salmon line can cost you no more than another £180 so there is absolutely no need to go wild with the credit card if funds are tight. Having good kit with a few appropriate and proven salmon flies goes along way to your enjoyment and effectiveness of your fishing day.
The International Salmon Scene
I agree that there are some highly attractive global salmon fishing destinations where sometimes there's more fish (& bigger) around but how's that going to work when you want to go salmon fishing at the drop of a hat in a limited time or finance scenario. We are often lead to believe from mainly 'detached' sources (even though we've zero 'accurate' stock measuring tools on 98% of the Scottish rivers) that we are in a low salmon stock period. On a personal basis I think it was far too easy to catch salmon ten years ago and I was starting to bore fishing guests by putting them into salmon far too frequently & quickly. On a personal basis a low river stock scenario is far more of a challenge (& buzz when successful) as effective tactical skills and a complete understanding of the river offers the only real chance of success.