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Salmon River Light Changes

By 16th October 2018

For those of you who are new to this game pay particular attention to light & weather changes throughout the course of the fishing day as they are definite 'triggers' for salmon movement & taking behaviour especially when they've not been cooperating as much!

Salmon Movement At Dusk

I used to work on a Tay salmon beat where I'd walk to & from work and often on my way home in the dusk I'd see runs of fish moving up river almost as if they were keeping abreast of me as I headed along the riverside track. This always occurred at dusk as the light was starting to fade and throughout most lower water months of the salmon fishing season. Even during the salmon fishing day when the clouds break on a cold Spring day and a glimmer or sunlight brings 'alive' the surface of the river my senses would start to 'tingle' and too often this was just before an often 'elusive' Springer was hooked.

Salmon River Light Changes

Light changes are significant daily incidents to tune yourself into while salmon fishing as are any sudden changes to the weather conditions. I recall wading an angler onto a gravel bar on the top of the Tay's famous Glendelvine salmon beat during some of the most horrific stormy wind conditions when salmon were completely switched off everywhere on the beat that day. It was a difficult wade and the wind didn't help us as we covered the targeted salmon lie. All of a sudden and very unexpectedly the gale completely ceased for literally a few minutes and within a few casts a lovely 8 pounder took the fly even though it ended up 360'ing us twice from our mid river gravel bar position before being introduced to the landing net!

The Calm Before The Salmon Fishing Storm

Now that the Tay is about to come into 'a class of its own' with March fast approaching and the beginning of the most exciting 90 day period in Scottish salmon fishing commences there are already Spring salmon starting to fill up the lies on the Dunkeld House beat where this fine upstream shot was taken late yesterday afternoon. During the day yesterday one or two fish showed in the Dunkeld House pools but as soon as the light started to change during late afternoon all the known Spring salmon lies were showing signs of life. On Friday a lovely 15 pounder was caught by Head Ghillie Gordon Pollock and fellow Dunkeld ghillie John Clark and I've zero doubt many more fine fish like that are about to be interviewed!

What Are The Salmon Not Seeing

To my mind as a 'tuned in' professional ghillie I often think to myself just how many lures a salmon has seen on its slow upstream ascent to the middle Tay beats during early Spring. The cold water at this time of year means a slower upstream journey than later in the Spring when the warmer river water allows salmon to 'scoot' straight through. While the main early Spring weapon of choice for many on the Tay from the boat or bank is the spinning lure or 'harling' plug I always used to see more consistent results with the tube fly and convinced myself that the fly to a early Spring Tay salmon was like a 'new toy to a child' that hadn't seen it before. The fly can also be presented slower in the cold water and a salmon has much more 'time on the ball' to get into 'assault' mode with a 'controlled' fly than a faster fished spinning lure that many bank anglers tend to fish too fast in the cold Tay Spring water. If you make it easy for a big Tay Springer it will often oblige!