River Tay Fishing
By Jock Monteith 30th June 2022
Of all the Scottish salmon rivers the mighty River Tay is the most renowned 'big fish' river of them all. On the Tay you're always in with a chance of connecting with a 20 lbs class salmon and occasionally an even bigger one. Knowing how to deal with a big fish is half the battle and I've seen many heavyweight Tay salmon escape capture due to inexperienced anglers.
The Often Gentle Take From Big Salmon
The take from a big fish like the one you see in this picture can be the most gentle take of all and as the take on the fly reel starts to develop you'll have no idea it's from a heavyweight until you set the hook. At this point you'll quickly feel different weight and power from the fish that'll instantly make you aware you have indeed made contact with a heavyweight.
After Setting The Salmon Fly Hook
Once you've set the hook properly and have lifted the rod the important things are to keep good 'side on' rod pressure on the fish at all times. When the salmon pulls you'll have no option but to release your hand from the fly reel and let the fish pull away. Don't let the salmon get too far below you as 'side on' high tip rod pressure is important to maintain the hook hold and to make the fish fight the action of your rod and as importantly to keep your line high in the water column away from sub surface snags as your fish bores deep in the pool.
Positioning Correctly To Play A Salmon
If you let a heavyweight salmon get below you in the river you're eventually going to weaken the hook hold as technically your hook is pulling at a thin layer of flesh in the salmon's mouth in an 'out of mouth' angle and not in an 'in to mouth' angle. You will also logically be playing the weight of the river too and not just the salmon. I absolutely cringe when I see videos of any salmon being played from an upstream position and in almost every case the hook hold eventually gives way and especially when the fish starts shaking its head.
The Best Area To Play A Big Salmon
Steering a big fish away from any really deep fast flowing pools where it can sit down in the pool with the added water pressure on the line is best avoided too. I've heard the whine from the fly line in such situations which again is exerting too much strain on the fishing tackle and hook hold. If this happens take a down stream side on position and try to turn the salmon's head in order to steer it out of there to a more suitable fight area.
Don't Rush Playing A Big Salmon
Take your time as a big fish in all cases will take time to tire itself out to a point where there's a possibility of landing it. On a fly rod this will in most cases be after the half hour mark so forget any notions of landing it quicker than that. In the latter stages of the fight look for a deep snag free pocket near the riverbank where you can finish the fight and wait until you know for certain that the fish is ready for the net before attempting to land it. Happy New Year to everyone.