Happy New Year
By Jock Monteith 1st January 2020
Happy New Year to each and everyone of you and may 2019 bring you all the joy & happiness you could have ever dreamed of. The 1st day of January always marks the start too of the new salmon fishing season as the big Scottish rivers prepare to open up over the next month or so.
Catching A Perfect Spring Salmon
The fine 'Springer' in the photograph was caught on the River Tay several years back during February in an apparent 'quiet spell' for Spring salmon when no salmon fishers turned up to fish the beat I was operating from that day. In the early months of the season there are plenty of salmon of this calibre in the Scottish rivers however they will never obviously be caught if there's no fishers there to catch them.
Beautiful Early Spring Fishing Conditions
On that particular February morning I waited until 11am just in case the guests who had booked onto the venue appeared late for whatever reason. At 11.30am I grabbed my fly rod, locked up the fishing hut and took the boat downstream to the beautiful Rock Pool neck on the Tay's Upper Kinnaird salmon fishing beat which was now bathed in the most inviting early Spring sunlight. River conditions were absolutely perfect that day and although I was seeing no signs of life I just had that inner feeling that Spring salmon were present. After about a dozen properly spaced casts I felt a gentle nudge on my 'Copperass' tube fly which slowly developed into a very positive draw to confirm my suspicions!
Spring Salmon Fishing Mind Set
In early season Scottish salmon fishing you must always make the assumption that Spring salmon are present as they always will be whether they show their salmon pool holding positions or not. Once you've gained confidence in what I've just stated your approach during the early months of the season will be just as thorough if not more so than the fishing effort you'd be applying during the more popular Spring months of April & May. This is particularly true because there's even more satisfaction in catching a fish like this when others think there's little or no chance and the pools are fished less which is always a good thing in salmon fishing.
Salmon Fishing In February
Over the many years that I've been professionally involved in this amazing pursuit I've always loved February on the Scottish rivers and I'm always very watchful for the little signs that are indicators that Spring salmon are about. One of the nicest indicators is when the oyster catchers start to show up which normally commences with one or two birds appearing before their numbers start increasing by the day. That early year 'flute like' call sends my senses into overdrive as to the possibility of catching a perfect fresh run Spring salmon as often the capture of these pristine salmon coincides perfectly with the arrival of these beautiful wild birds.
Salmon Fisher Pack Mentality
Salmon anglers ultimately set the patterns as to the popular fishing months of the season and when salmon are ultimately caught via catch stats graphs. This industry afflicted 'rod pressure' measuring tool barely functions when a Scottish salmon beat is being fully fished assuming the angling quality is of a reasonable standard but cannot function at all when a salmon beat is completely un-fished. Traditionally on the River Tay anglers choose not to fish the river during February which to my mind is crazy as this is a true Spring month and the amazing cold water fight and perfect condition of salmon at that time of year has always been superb.
Think Outside Of The Fishing Box
The more I think about Scottish salmon fishing and all aspects of catching salmon it becomes apparently more obvious that you must be a 'possibility thinker' and not allow yourself to be herded into the 'heresy' nonsense that many anglers get caught up with. When I'm personally fishing a salmon beat I'm always on the look out for that un-fished pool or I'll be working my salmon fly down through a pool in a different manner from that of the other fishers. My timings to the river were never influenced by what the stats charts say either and often I've located 'silver' when the graphs and charts are saying it's not worth fishing. Don't let a city hatched catch measuring tool dampen your spirits regarding when your best chances of success are on the amazing Tay as there's few who truly understand early season salmon fishing let alone the highly complex Tay and when her beautiful transient silver inhabitants are present.