The Call Of The Tay
By Jock Monteith 17th January 2021
You can bet your life on the fact that there will be perfect multi sea winter specimen Spring salmon like this fine beast already present in Scotland's mighty River Tay which opened this week. This caliber of reward is as good as it gets for those who can handle the cooler early Spring fishing conditions.
The Odds Of Catching A Spring Salmon
If you study the catch numbers (as many do) from a superficial 'what's been caught' marketing point of view you'd not be impressed with your 'pay per play' odds of catching salmon at any time even though actual 'rod pressure' is never considered. This however has absolutely ZERO to do with the thrill and sheer excitement of turning up on the Tay and knowing these perfect fish are present. The thrill & satisfaction of eventually catching one of these fine specimens is over all too quickly so it's the preparation excitement, journey to the river, comradery & just being in with a chance of one of these amazing fish in God's finest playground is where the true salmon fishing value lies.
What Is Salmon Fishing Success
If you're a statistics conditioned thinker then you're excused for assuming that Scottish salmon fishing is only about how many salmon you can catch however it's no ones God given right to expect success during every outing unless they are at the skill set level where are odds are tipped in their favour like a few serious operators I know! For those of us who see a bigger attraction in the natural world and the 'escapism' thrill that goes hand in hand with this fantastic pursuit we take value from the journey more than the inevitable end result of enough fishing attempts. The definition of success; 'the progressive realisation of a worthwhile dream or goal'. If salmon were too easy to catch all of the time they would lose their 'accomplishment' appeal and even during recent years salmon are still indeed sometimes fairly easy to catch.
How To Become A River Tay Dog Otter
If you start thinking like a dog otter you'll eventually start performing like one. A dog otter doesn't read salmon fishing books written by people who've spent little time on the salmon rivers nor could a dog otter be influenced by misinformation from a fellow angler or a negative ghillie. The dog otter will follow his own nose & core instincts and soon work out exactly where to look and capture a salmon. The dog otter's approach to a salmon pool will be based on a 'logical & thorough' examination and nothing other than that so it's always wise to have or develop a similar water coverage approach and 'feel' for the river.
Tune Your Mind Into The River
Freedom of thought on a riverbank will give you the fishing advantage especially if you react and implement those little subtle thoughts that come into your head throughout the course of the fishing day. If you do this long enough you'll convince yourself you can even start to sense the presence of salmon even when they're keeping their heads down and not showing. When you get to that level in this pursuit you'll then truly know you only need a few dozen casts at the right place and time of day to score! I recall many incidents on the Tay after fishing guests had blanked and then said to me 'go on show me how it's done' before handing them back a buckled fly rod!
Become Your Salmon Fly Or Lure
Drop the 'robotic' fly selection mode and start tank testing your fly at the side of the river to see how well it's highlighting and moving in the stream. Look at the light and water clarity for contrast and consider the depth and speed you're trying to achieve before you make your final decision or even think about tying your final blood or turle knot. Once you make that selection decision stick with it and become that fly. Your thoughts should never wander from being focussed on exactly how & where that fly is searching.
Strategic River Tay Salmon Pool Coverage
On a big Scottish salmon river like the Tay where you'll very likely have hundreds of yards of salmon water to cover in the morning & afternoon salmon fishing sessions it is crucial that your water coverage is 'bang on' perfect. At lunchtime or at 5pm it's important to know you've ticked the water coverage box so take a river 'snap shot' in your head and see your fly consistently swinging through all of it spaced by approximately 4 feet. The 'law of averages' will be working for you if you adopt this methodical salmon pool coverage approach so don't just stick to one riverbank position where all you'll be doing is training salmon to accept the presence of your fly or lure. Your objective is to locate & 'startle' a salmon into not accepting the presence of your fly!
Instant Gratification In Salmon Fishing
While there are clear and proven wild salmon stock enhancement techniques that could easily be successfully used to bolster and develop the existing runs of wild Atlantic salmon in Scotland this game has never ever been one of instant gratification unlike so much of modern day life. They say a golf course gives a great insight into the character of a person but I'd say that the salmon river goes one step further. It takes skill, tact & patience to lure a wild salmon that's not in the river to feed and that is for me a big part of the challenge. Personally I take as much satisfaction from a day of perfect water coverage whether a salmon shows up for an interview or not. In saying that a day of perfect water coverage usually always provides at least one serious enquiry from our treasured underworld!