Finding Spring Salmon
By Jock Monteith 24th February 2021
Actioning and sticking to an optimised daily fishing 'battle plan' is an important part of success in Scottish salmon fishing especially through the early Spring months when locating salmon is sometimes not just as 'easy' as it is later on in the season.
A Salmon Fishing Box Ticking Exercise
When you're allocated your pools for the morning or afternoon fishing session you need to know exactly where and how often your fishing plan is going to take your fly or lure over the various known 'hot spots'. In addition to that you need to make sure you're thoroughly covering all of the other areas where there may be a salmon holding. In other words drop the casual 'willy nilly' approach and get serious with your water coverage as that is far more relevant for success in salmon fishing than how elegant your Spey cast is looking!
Working The Law Of Averages In Salmon Fishing
It's not rocket science to understand that an angler is going to stand a far better chance of success if they are effectively covering the river and constantly on the move. This is even more so if the target prior to lunchtime is getting through the known hot spots twice instead of just once if the pool rotation you're allocated allows you the freedom to do so. The more water you effectively cover is obviously going to increase your chances of contact. The optimal movement between each swing of the fly I've found is 3 to 4 ft (10ft with a spinning rod) as that will get you through loads of water over the course of the day and won't show a salmon too much of your fly (or lure) which is more likely to obtain the desired reaction!
When You Hook An Early Spring Salmon
When you've put in enough riverbank coverage and finally get hold of a fish and land it don't just sit there in awe of the experience but quickly think about your chances of a 'double' as often there's an immediate chance of a second fish if you walk back 50 yards and come through the same salmon lie again instead of pausing or re-continuing your fishing downstream. The photographs on this post were taken on a Spring day on the Tay where that very experience occurred where a quick 'double' was landed by this guest in the last half hour of fishing after a long yet finally effective day of searching.
When The Salmon Take Comes
During my career on the Scottish salmon rivers I've hooked numerous salmon on the very first cast of the day including a salmon on Ayrshire's River Doune on my very first ever visit to that river. With many of these 'quick fish' experiences they have been the only fish of the day even though I was convinced at the time that a bumper day lay ahead! I've cast out 'harling' lures on the Tay from the boat that were instantly seized the split second I clicked the bail arm over while attempting to put the rod butt in the 'harling' iron! Always expect the unexpected in Scottish salmon fishing and regardless of when that salmon appears keep your water coverage tactics in optimal and 'time conscious' form.
Salmon Fishing Expectations
As a professional salmon fishing guide I understand the psychology of salmon fishers more than most and technically I've taken a degree on this generally unspoken subject! Most salmon fishers are absolutely buzzing at the prospect of another day out on the river and many find it difficult to sleep the night prior! This is the magical power of Scottish salmon fishing escapism on these glorious God given natural arenas in pursuit of what has been properly badged as the 'King Of Fish'. If you've not slept well before your day on the river or if you've not seen any signs of life for your first few hours it is imperative that you don't let your head go down. I've personally witnessed countless occasions when that has happened to fishers and usually not too long before a few of our silver friends show up for an interview! Pacing your mental energy to last throughout the full course of the fishing day to control your expectations (so you don't burn out too soon) would be my advice.