Now's The Day & Now's The Hour
By Jock Monteith 23rd March 2018
This is now without a 'shadow of a doubt' the big Spring fish zone on many Scottish rivers and make no mistake about that fact. This is the time of year more big multi sea winter 'clunkers' come quietly snooping up into the Tay and other Scottish salmon rivers.
Psychic Salmon Fishing Guides
I've several guests fishing on the Tay at the moment with a bigger party of 4 arriving today for 2 days on the Dunkeld House beat. A few professional Tay ghillie colleagues are involved in hosting these clients so doing my usual phone around to make sure everyone was still on I said to one of the team 'I bet you're playing another big Tay Springer' to which he replied how on earth did you know that! I called him back to learn he'd just landed a twenty pounder! The truth is you don't need psychic powers to take a calculated guess with Steve McIrvine on Glendelvine as he's a true River Tay big fish magnet!
Milder Salmon River Water
The recent increase in river temperature which typically always arrives around mid March is the trigger for many 'pristine' Spring salmon to move and move they most certainly will. The next few weeks where most beats are unbelievably quiet for anglers represent a great chance for a connection to a fish of a lifetime. I believe many fishers like more residents salmon numbers to be built up in the pools but personally I'll take the challenge of working out in advance exactly where on any beat that big fresh run brute from Greenland is going to momentarily pause or be holding!
Get Your Tactics Correct For Action
Unless you like the 'brief' sound of your spinning reel drag on initial contact with a River Tay spring salmon followed by a slack line then tighten your bloody clutch setting up. That initial pull from a salmon on the lure is exactly when the hooks need to be set and if you miss the opportunity you've let yourself & the beat down. In 90% of cases I've seen this slack clutch 40 yard 'catch & release' tactic deployed and often even undermining the beat ghillie's direct fishing instructions. The logic behind this is truly kindergarten stuff but still many anglers seem not to be listening as if they're addicted to losing salmon by having there spinning reel drag settings as lightly set as their fly reels!
Set The Salmon Lure Hook Properly
A successful hook hold with a spinner or salmon fly is not achieved without 'logical' hook point pressure so get the hook hold set then loosen the clutch off to play the fish or you will keep getting contacts that amount to nothing more than a 'gut wrenching' feeling of loss. I recall even this week hearing how bad a Toby 'Salmo' is for hooking salmon! FFS tighten up your clutch and watch the difference! Logically the bigger the hook the more hook point pressure is required to set it. If you've gone to little needle sharp bendy 'bass lure' hooks to counteract your 'anti logic' slack clutch habit then more fool you!
Setting The Salmon Fly Hook
For the salmon fly fishers amongst you let the fish tug away at the reel until it decides to turn tail and start a lovely steady draw of line off your reel for a further 6 to 8 seconds. Keeping the rod tip pointing at the fish then clamp the reel face to stop the line feed 'dead' keeping the rod tip down! You should at that moment feel the weight of the fish which means job done! At this reel clamping stage give it a good few seconds feeling the weight of the salmon and especially if you're fishing a heavier gauge wire tube fly hook as they don't 'magic' themselves into the tougher tissue areas of a salmon's mouth either. Never rush to lift & engage the soft action of your fly rod until you're convinced the hook set has been effectively achieved.
Scanning the River For Spring Salmon Lies
Look for the steady slow water glides with sufficient depth in lower water conditions to allow salmon a 'bolt hole' in case a predator turns up. Dark 'glassy' patches of water on any pool are usually indicative of a sub surface feature and a possible salmon lie. In the Spring when there's plenty of oxygen in the water look to the slower moving areas of the pool so it's a 'polar opposite' of where you're searching in the warm water Summer months. Always carry a landing net and if you hook a salmon leave the net well alone until only the latter stages of battle when you sense the salmon is ready. If you're a ghillie leave the net on your shoulder as all you'll do is let your guest think the fish is ready to be landed before it is ready.