Early Spring Fly Fishing
By Jock Monteith 9th January 2020
The early Spring weeks of the Scottish salmon fishing season have always been fascinating to me and salmon movement observations over the years have made me realise the value of these traditionally quieter early Spring fishing months.
The Lone Salmon Angler
I'm sure many of you remember the Lone Ranger series that was popular with us kids of the 60's & 70's well I see a correlation between 'Kemosabe' with his pal Tonto to the lone salmon anglers of the Scottish salmon rivers who dare to venture out into this sharp but beautiful Spring salmon river environment with their ghillie. If you were to pick an optimal fishing time for an encounter with one of Neptune's finest during the second half of February and the entire month of March could not be bettered for contact with a Scottish Spring salmon 'leviathan'.
Illusions Of Scottish Salmon Fishing
If you think 'Old Sam' cares that it's early Spring if he's wanting back to his roots then think again. Even freezing cold river water might slow is ascent down a bit but it won't put him off once he's readjusted to fresh water and committed to his flight path. At this time of year you're looking at one tenth of the fishing pressure so use 'your loaf' and realise that catch stats mean nothing as these digits never compare 'apples with apples' as there are far too many variables in salmon fishing for that 'complete marketing bullshit' to be used as a measuring tool to evaluate any fine Scottish salmon river.
Full Time River Tay Ghillie Experience
I always loved the middle to the end of February after many of the kelts had gone and just knowing that the next tug on the fly rod or buckled rod from the boat would stand a great chance of being a connection with the finest salmon of them all. As a ghillie I'd treat salmon lie coverage of my beat as a daily 'necessity' regardless of what the river level was doing as long as the water clarity was reasonable. Mentally I just couldn't let that daily ritual drop as few fishing guests would ever show up to cover the Spring salmon lies for me. My policy was always 'if you're going to do the job let's get it done right!' and don't play at it as all salmon beats needs worked effectively daily and not inhabited by a moaning ghilie or anglers drinking tea in the fishing hut.
Huge Loch Tay Spring Salmon
The early River Tay salmon fishing Spring months have yet again this year proven to be brilliant months for a good chance of connecting with a silver mobile 'finned' sack of cement that destined for Loch Tay. The loch used to always produce salmon in the 30 to 40lbs class early in the year and even during recent seasons 2 lovely 20 pounders were caught by the brilliant Grant Tigwell at Killin. The big brutes to 35 lbs have been landed during the early Spring weeks in recent years on the Tay prove beyond doubt that this historic run of heavyweight brilliance are still most definitely present and make no mistake about the fact that there will 'still' be a few 40's in amongst them!
See The February Salmon Fishing Logic
Not only should you pay zero attention to the low catch figures derived from negligible angling pressure which Steve McIrvine's Glendelvine beat syndicate guest Jim Shaw rightfully did in February 2018 to catch his 35 lbs Tay 'Springer of a lifetime' but train your mind to look at things from other angles. My daily mindset was always 'if there's a taker in this beat today I'm going to find it' before working out my search areas then making 100% sure every square metre of water received the best of my presentation skills & focus. I'd never come off the water without knowing all boxes had been thoroughly ticked each day and nor should any angler if they're serious about early season success.
Never Let Your Head Go Down When Salmon Fishing
I recall hundreds of incidents on the river that make me smile but few more than this one. I had a great guest called John Irving up fishing the Tay and he'd gone to the trouble of having me source a good Spey rod, reel & line for him and at 4pm he was still delivering (in exceptionally bright Spring sunlight) a perfect and consistent 30 yard Spey cast to the river with his new kit. Two of the other guests were walking up the river bank complaining bitterly about the bright light so I verbally 'pounced' on them. The split second I'd just finished my lecture saying 'listen up guys if a sea liced springer comes up through that fast water and pauses right there in front of him I can assure you it will absolutely nail his fly!' At the same split second I finished my lecture John instantly hooked his very first salmon which was a 'scale perfect' 11 lbs sea-licer which taught those two 'head down' specialists a big but very important salmon fishing lesson!