Spring Salmon Fishing
By Jock Monteith 31st December 2020
This is indeed the time of the year when all eyes turn towards the renowned Spring salmon run that the Scottish rivers are fortunate to benefit from. Spring fishing has been increasing in popularity over the last 10 years and if you look at the pristine condition of this perfect fish you understand one of the many reasons why.
Booking Spring Salmon Fishing
The cold water battle from a salmon is always far more memorable as aside from the sheer battling muscle power these fish possess the well oxygenated cold water of Spring ensure a far more lively fight to say the least. You must understand the game you are playing to get a hold of a Spring fish so here are a few career based clues as to how that exciting contact can be achieved.
Fishing Correctly In Early Spring
Forget what the books preach about this 'deep and slow' nonsense until your well past mid March. In the early Spring months when the river is running very cold Spring salmon and even kelts are holding high in the water column where the slightly milder water thermals are to be found. A deeply fished fly can fish underneath the target water column zone so technically this approach is a waste of time.
Swimming Your Salmon Fly Optimally
We know a salmon will rise for a fly or intercept a fly as it passes its nose but I'm not convinced a fish will dive for one so enough said there. You need to be fishing no deeper than a couple of feet in the cold water of early Spring and personally 8 inches to a foot is where in the water column I'm focussing on at all times. Make sure you've an appropriate sinking tip or weighted fly with sufficient fly control skill to place and maintain your fly in this 'kill zone'.
A Well Presented Early Spring Salmon Fly
With the above depth of fly swing in mind a nice slow steady pace of fly is what you should be looking to achieve as too fast a fly will be generally ignored by an early cold water Spring fish even if you're fly's passing its nose. Work your fly in though all the slacker water areas of the pools that could offer enough depth security to a holding fish and always slowly hand line a little at the end of the swing to keep momentum in the fly just incase it is being shadowed!
The Gentle Take From A Spring Salmon
The take from an early Spring salmon can often be very gentle to start with as all creatures are not too fast moving in the cold water unless they sense danger. The slightest nudge on your fly should always be treated with great caution and never written off as being from a trout or a kelt. Be extra patient on the take and give a cold water salmon plenty of time to turn and start drawing away before you set the hook. This should be almost double the amount of time you'd give a fish in the warmer water conditions experienced from April onwards.
The Reality Of Salmon Fly Swim Depth
Don't assume that just because you're fishing a full sinking line or very heavy long sink tip in early Spring that your fly is down at the bottom of the pool. The river has a significant 'jacking up' effect on most fly lines so when you think your fish took the fly down deep the reality probably was that it took a foot or two from the surface. This is often especially the case in early Spring when most rivers are running higher and faster than normal. Pairing the weight of your fly & sink tip with the draw of the current and suspected depth of the pool and tuning into how you're controlling your fly's pace and depth via mending and/or a high outward pointed rod tip are hugely significant in this business and especially so in the near freezing water conditions of early Spring.