Salmon River Dusk
By Jock Monteith 3rd September 2021
While most of the Scottish salmon fishing ends at around 5pm on the fishing day it's always worth running past the beat's Head Ghillie the viability of an evening cast and especially in late Spring or during the long hot days of Summer. Like all forms of wildlife the fading light brings excitement to fish too as trout come on the feed and salmon start to move.
Observing The River At Dusk
I recall many times in my professional career sitting observing the river during what my late mentor Willie Laird used to refer to as the 'witching hour' and seeing the water displacement surge of a shoal of salmon pushing up through the thin water at the tail of the main salmon pool on his Tay beat. I've personally seen this late evening movement of salmon on many Scottish rivers over the years.
Evening Salmon Movement
These running salmon will have been sat down all day and probably completely unobserved in one of the deeper holding areas downstream before being 'triggered' by the fading light to push on again. If you've been fishing on any salmon beat during bright light & low water conditions with nothing much showing it's important you treat each day with renewed anticipation as to what the darkness brought into the pools the night before. If salmon aren't showing or occasionally one shows don't be deceived into thinking there's only an odd fish in the pool.
Trout Fishing The Tay At Night
As a youngster I used to love fishing the River Tay through the night for brown trout near Dunkeld. If I waded out into the pool quietly and remained completely still for long enough I'd see the dimpling of surface feeding trout come right in to within a few feet of me as they picked away at the flies that were drifting down the river. There's definitely something magical in the air on any river when the light starts to fade and under certain river conditions the last hour or so of daylight will give you a good chance of a salmon too.
Plan Your Salmon Fishing Appproach
Many salmon beats like to rest their pools in the evenings as 'over fishing' is a major yet largely unspoken issue on the salmon rivers of Scotland. Showing salmon that are holding in the pools too much of the fly is a bad thing as every time a salmon sees a fly its chances of taking the fly diminish. With this in mind focus your fishing effort into well covered and tactically thought out approaches instead of just thrashing away without a 'true' battle plan. In the lower water, bright light periods of the season you should consider the 'witching hour' in your fishing plan if permitted on the venue you're fishing on.
Tune Into The Salmon River At Dusk
Once you move your game from advanced tactical mode into advanced spiritual mode that is when you'll truly excel in this delicately unpredictable yet glorious pursuit. When your mind becomes synced with the energy of the river and when these fluctuating river moods transmit fish catching possibilities to your brain then you've developed the same 'gut feelings' than many professional salmon river ghillies operate with on a day to day basis. This is a snippet of the generally unspoken side of Scottish salmon fishing and getting 'as one' with the river is advanced salmon fishing skill status. Being out during dusk on the river will assist you in understanding the river and her subtleties and once that's been achieved then experiencing personal introductions to her inhabitants becomes much less of an issue!