Identifying The Salmon Lie
By Jock Monteith 4th April 2019
In periods of low water it's much easier to identify the exact areas of a salmon pool where fish are likely to be found. If you focus your efforts on these likely areas you'll fish far more effectively and your batting average is likely to soar!
Look For Glassy River Surface Patches
The above shot is the 'classic' low water salmon lie at the tail of the Gauge Tree pool on the Dunkeld House beat of the River Tay. The bigger glassy patch of water created by subsurface features and the little patches above it in the red circle are simply an IQ test for a running fish to stop at. There is also now easy wading down the left hand bank of this lovely pool made easier by the current lower water levels. This perfect salmon lie is not only a very good one but it's very visually obvious for anyone with an observant eye to identify.
Limited Low Water Lies
Even turning up on a busy salmon beat where a salmon pool rotation is issued to the guests for the morning and afternoon fishing sessions I'd personally much rather go through a hot spot twice with completely different salmon flies and depths than wasting fishing time on areas that seldom produce a result. Little and often with complete sub surface fly swim thoughts are how you take advantage of limited fly water on a busy salmon beat when multiple salmon pools are thin on the ground. Just because you or another fly fisher has been through a pool means nothing if the tactical fly fishing depth, speed and fly size hasn't been correct so you should have a back up if your first swing through the pool doesn't excite its occupants!
Don't Read Salmon Fishing Books
Most of the books written about salmon fishing have seriously flawed salmon fishing information in them so use logic as your reference point and not hearsay. When the river warms during late Spring & Summer resident salmon will always be found in the deeper water and at the bottom of the pool where it is 'logically' cooler. In very cold early Spring water salmon are found high in the water column where they can draw warmth on their backs from the sun or where 'logically' the warmer water thermals are located. If you want to place your salmon fly in a non cooperative salmon's 'strike zone' during warm water conditions then you need to make sure your fly is down deep enough to match the depth of the pool you're fishing. This floating line Summer fishing theme will catch the new keen fish that'll come several feet or more for a fly but as for hooking older educated residents it's usually always a complete waste of time!
Apply Stealth To Your Salmon Pool Approach
While you'll often still see salmon showing in a pool after they've been 'spooked' out of their lies by a careless wader they do after that point become very difficult to catch. Just because the river is shallower and you can wade in the river much more easily you should at all times be extremely aware of the disturbance you're causing and especially during low water periods. A good salmon pool that could easily yield 2 or 3 salmon that day can be rendered a complete waste of time if not treated respectfully. Far too many anglers from what I've seen just charge straight in and wreck their chances of success so keeping back and move carefully even if it means throwing a longer line will always be far more effective through these lower water fishing conditions.