Salmon River Observations
By Jock Monteith 9th January 2018
You can often learn plenty about a salmon river when you're not fishing it than you can do with a rod in your hand. On a personal basis I always used to love walking up a salmon beat at dusk observing the river and all its wildlife.
Watching The Salmon Pool
When you're salmon fishing don't just rush onto a pool as a 15 minute observation especially if you're new to the beat could easily give you the 'heads up' as to exaclty where salmon are holding should one pops its head or tail up. Sometimes salmon will surprize you on how close they are holding in a pool before a too deep wading fisher pushes them out to the opposite side of the river.
Try Different Areas Of a Salmon Pool
Once salmon fishers fish robotically through a salmon pool a few times without thinking about their approach or wade depth look to other areas of the pool as this type of rod pressure will either have switched these fish off or moved them about to different temp holding areas of the pool. The best thing is to try a completely different approach even if it means getting over to the far bank and even if it's a more difficult bank to fish.
Salmon Movement At Dusk
On one of the beats I used to work on there was a beautiful big pool with a reasonably shallow tail and even during daylight hours you could often see the water displacement of salmon as they pushed upstream through this thin water. In the evenings during late Spring and Summer when many salmon move through the night it was easy to see the bow waves of running salmon at this particular salmon pool tail.
An Evening Bow Wave Surprize
One evening while watching the river at dusk I saw a few salmon coming right up through the centre seam of the river as they pushed on up the Tay. I then noticed this much bigger bow wave which was aligned more to my side of the river than where I was seeing these other bow waves. This bigger bow wave veered over towards me and when it got 20ft away a big dog otter head appeared before instantly vanishing out of fright. I really thought a 40 pounder was coming to say hello!
Ghillie River Observations
As a full time career ghillie random visits to the salmon beat outside regular operating hours would on occasion catch a poacher red handed or flag up evidence that would identify the presence of poachers. A cigarette butt different from the brand your guest was smoking or a different boot print in the sand or silt would usually be the signs. More often than not a different lure on the riverbed from what your guests were fishing with would be the main sign and telling by the condition of the lure as to how recently it had been lost.
Sunday Morning Salmon Poachers
While looking after the beats I was in charge of I used to take a run down to the river at 6am on a Sunday morning as that was the time most poachers would figure was safest due to the rivers being closed on Sundays and most ghillies would be 'out for the count' due to a heavy Saturday night in the pub with their fishing guests!
Let It Be And See The Funny Side
One evening while walking home up the river I recall bumping into 5 young blond haired boys who were clearly brothers aged from approx 5 to 12 years old. They were all well spaced out on the riverbank and armed with spinning rods and and all of them could cast their lures well. They were on holiday and staying at the local caravan park and they didn't see me approaching to ask them what they thought they were doing! I was impressed by their abilities and consistency of cast so after startling them I directed them to a safer pool on the beat where they stood a better chance of success!
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