Identifying The Salmon Lie
By Jock Monteith 18th November 2020
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 mid section of the Ash Tree pool on the famous Lower Kinnaird salmon beat. The centre area of the river opposite and directly downstream of the large pipe which decants the Kindallachan Burn into the Tay has always been a serious hot spot for salmon to lie up in. There is also easy wading down the right hand bank of this famous salmon pool enabling medium to long range controlled salmon fly presentation. This perfect salmon lie has produced numerous fish for both myself, my guests and numerous frequent Kinnaird salmon fishers over the years and will no doubt continue to do so.
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 plan 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 deep holding resident salmon 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 completely wasted 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. In addition to that the increased height you'll have above the water line by staying in the shallows allows easier and more effective long range delivery as even a 16ft salmon rod technically reduces to 13ft when you're in the river waist deep!