Salmon Fishing Light Conditions
By Jock Monteith 14th October 2020
On a personal basis I much prefer the fishing days where there's a glimmer of sunlight to illuminate your salmon fly as opposed to fishing days when there's a dull flat light on the water. If however you were able to ask a fresh run salmon what it prefers you'd more than likely receive a different answer.
Sunlight On The River
There's something about the sparkle of sunlight on the water that excites me and more often than not I've seen it have the same reaction with salmon. Observing the many salmon captures I've been involved in over the last 4 decades I'd say that some form of sunlight was present in at least 85% of these salmon encounters even though most salmon books would have you believe that dull days are best.
Juvenile Salmon Behaviour
When a salmon is in the river as a juvenile it is conditioned to expect a hatch of nymphs and flies if there's high pressure or warmth on the surface of the river and studies have proven the relevance of rising barometric pressure and salmon taking behaviour on numerous occasions to confirm this fact. It's not just salmon that are tuned into high/low pressure movement but all other forms of wildlife too.
True Predatory Salmon Instincts
An adult salmon will never deprogram its prior juvenile river conditioning however it will also never lose its ability as a 'prolific' predator either as it returns to the fresh water river environment so do not right off the dull flat light days even though I have less personal faith in them. A fresh run sea liced salmon will still be in full 'predator' mode for at least a few days while it transitions back into its fresh water river mindset and that is why these fresh run fish tend to be much easier to catch regardless of the prevailing river conditions.
Visiting Salmon Anglers
This fortunate angler travelled all the way from California for a 1 day chance of catching a River Tay salmon on the fly built into his Scottish touring itinerary. Our 'Salmon God smiled for him within 30 minutes of starting that cold dull April day even though I personally didn't like the look of the cold & flat light conditions. This is indeed part of the magic of Scottish salmon fishing and why it is crucial that you maintain positive core thoughts and a consistent and persistent salmon fishing approach to override any negativity that may be off putting.
Consistent Salmon Fishing Approach
The minute you right off any fishing day in your mind is indeed when you stand little chance of success so always remember that salmon are independent creatures and don't always comply with our thoughts and assessments of them. A fresh run salmon can appear or be present in a pool at any time regardless of the prevailing water or light conditions so stay positive and stay focussed in on the important factors like fly swing spacings and the speed of your fly at all times. There's a great saying that 'you need to be in it to win it' which applies perfectly to this truly magical pursuit.