The Eye Of The Osprey
By Jock Monteith 18th January 2021
Here's a few career observations relating to how to quickly 'time assess' your salmon pool fishing effort. Maximising your 'effective' fly swim time throughout the course of the fishing day will dramatically increase your chances of contact with the underworld!
Knowing Where To Locate Resting Salmon
When you've been in this game long enough you'll see exactly the type of flow where salmon are consistently hooked and hold up in. Being able to pin point these likely holding positions will always provided you with a 'massive' salmon fishing advantage and this skill set will give you the power and water coverage of ten salmon anglers if mastered properly. Knowing when to fish quickly through the less likely areas of a pool and slow up to the 'correct' fly swing spacings will increase your 'effective' water coverage significantly.
Fast Water Sub Surface Holding Areas
Salmon don't often hold up in fast water unless there's a riverbed pocket of slack water where they can get a break from the current. Often you'll never know salmon are lying up in fast water unless one is foolish enough to show! The one big exception to that rule is when the river is running warm in the heat of Summer when water oxygen levels are low and that's when you'll find the resident fish sitting up high in the neck of a fast flowing pool but again only as long as it's not physically taxing them too much. Like any other creature on the planet salmon will take rest whenever they can to counter act the exertions of upstream migration.
Look For The Steady Deep Pool Flows
In the vast majority of cases you'll locate resting salmon in the smooth slower moving glides where they can hold up with a steady flow of water entering their mouths and processed out through their gills. If there's some added depth for security then that adds another tick to the salmon's selection choice. Boiling turbulent water where the flow is coming at them from all angles is not attractive to salmon but 5 to 10 yards back where that turbulence smooths out again with the added break in the flow from whatever was causing the turbulence to begin with could easily be a great salmon lie so pay particular attention to the water immediately downstream, to the side or immediately upstream when there are any signs of the presence of a sub surface feature.
Scanning A Pool For It's Salmon Lies
Scan for the calmer inside edge of a stream for a resting fish or that smooth deep glide near the tail or mid section of a pool. Look for the water that provides some respite for a fish to hold in without it getting knocked about by the power of the stream. When the old osprey appears look at the areas of the pool where he's hovering directly over or look for odd looking stones on the riverbank that have been placed there by other anglers to mark the position of a salmon that's been continually showing. All salmon pools are easy to work out once your eye has the ability to identify its likely salmon holding areas. Don't underestimate the value of thoroughly surveying the likely salmon beat holding areas and moving quicker through the less likely areas.
Think Outside Of The Box With Salmon Lies
If you spot an area of a salmon pool that ticks all of the salmon lie boxes then don't ignore it even if it's not been a well known 'hot spot'. I vividly recall fishing the lovely River Stinchar in Ayrshire with the river in perfect order and noticing what I was perceiving to be a perfect salmon lie boulder out in the middle of a fairly fast streamy area. The boulder was creating the most perfect turbulence which was tapering out into a deep smooth water channel approx 20 feet to the rear of it. I pointed this obvious salmon lie out to my fishing buddy who'd been fishing the same beat for 20 years and was advised that salmon never hold there and it was a waste of time. One well presented cast proved my theory correct as a powerhouse of a 15lbs cock fish seized my offering!