Salmon Lie Approach
By Jock Monteith 14th September 2021
Over the decades I've seen great opportunities for an easy 'early day' salmon completely blown by anglers who put on waders that go up to their chests and think they have to do the same while wading in the river!
The Stealthy Wading Approach
The first thing a salmon should ever be made aware of is your salmon fly and not the commotion of a deep wading salmon fisher who's not followed their ghillie's pool approach instructions and waded too close to the lie scattering any salmon in the process. Once a pool is 'rattled' like that it becomes very tricky to then get a fish to take a fly but catching a salmon off guard with a stealthy pool approach is a completely different matter!
Keep Your Fishing Distance Well Back
Salmon love to sit in relaxed flow areas of the pool which can more often than not mean fairly close to the margins. Just because we often can't visually observe these fish it doesn't mean that they are not present so the 'tactful' approach is always the best one so always assume salmon are holding close in especially in the mornings when you're first through the pool before other anglers have had a chance to wreck it.
Stealth Is Your Salmon Fishing Weapon
I've seen salmon fishers walk right up the side of a pool they are about to fish through and when they get to the neck I've watched them charge right in up to their waists creating a bow wave then wonder why they get continually get called 'Jona' in the fishing hut! A wide berthed stealthy slow walk to your starting position is always the best way for logical reasons and shin or ankle depth wading is all you really need to start fishing down through the majority of salmon pools.
Feeding Pigeons In Glasgow's George Square
Your approach to any salmon pool should be as subtle as you'd feed pigeons in a public park. If you run at the birds screaming 'I'm going to feed you' they'll be away up in the trees or roof tops within seconds. Slow and gentle movements with a few grains at a time to start with will in no time bring these birds to be almost feeding out of your hands. On the river I used to have a cock pheasant and a robin come right into the fishing hut and feed out of my hand until an angler drove in and banged their car door and both those birds would be gone. Treat your salmon pool with the same stealthy caution and don't be surprised if you receive a quick 'take' from the underworld!
Deep Wading Can Be Dangerous
All chest wader manufacturers do not put a buoyancy line at just over the waist level on their products so if you're wading down through a salmon pool impersonating Neil Armstrong's first moon walk you're too deep. The thing that catches anglers out on even a shallow fast stream is that all shallow water leads to deep water and once the current has bowled you over it can be very difficult to stand up again while being pushed by the relentless current. An automatic life jacket should always be worn as a salmon river can catch you out and usually when you're least expecting it.
2 Rod Length Back From The Salmon Lie
I would strongly suggest that you give yourself an absolute bare minimum of 2 rod lengths of clearance when fishing near any salmon lie but further back than that if the riverbank terrain and your casting ability allows it. Once salmon have been disturbed and have moved to a different or deeper part of the pool the best thing to do is leave the pool for a few hours to settle and come back for another go later. If you think that head of fish that were right under your rod in the morning are now holding on the other side of the pool then consider a stealthy approach from the far bank later on.