The Scottish Salmon Game
By Jock Monteith 4th May 2023
The Scottish salmon fishing game is a fascinating business without a doubt as it's unbelievably multi faceted from the psychology & preparedness of the visiting salmon fishers to the subtle 'nudges' the river environment will give you if you listen to your gut feelings. Here's my view on where the game has been and where improvements can most definitely be made.
The Salmon Prize Prize Is Worth The Price
Especially through the Spring months the condition, power and sheer beauty of a Scottish Spring salmon (as seen here) is truly in a league of its own and on a personal basis I'd take 1 Springer over 10 old resident late Summer or Autumn fish. Yes, there's calculated effort involved in getting hold of a Spring salmon on any river these days but to my mind that is a big part of the challenge and excitement of fishing for them. Learning the appropriate 'logic based' salmon fishing skills is obviously going to make a huge difference to any angler's success ratio.
Salmon Fishing Client Qualification
Scottish salmon fishing guests have generally been poorly qualified to date and mainly sold to the lowest bidder via 'permit only' access with zero attempt to provide a proper qualification process as to what the client actually needs and exactly where they are with their salmon fishing skills. This low cost 'permit only' entry point sale has put tens of thousands of potential salmon fishers out of the game who have taken a brief look at the sport via 'permit only' access then exited due to a lack of knowledge, 'mind to objective' excitement, inappropriate fishing kit and the inevitable too many blank fishing days. Many agents don't understand client qualification as they've no practical riverbank experience to tell them what really goes on when an inexperienced newcomer to the sport turns up on a salmon beat completely unprepared.
Salmon Fisher Preparedness
For anyone who thinks that a wild Atlantic salmon is just going to surrender itself to a few launches of a fly or lure I've got bad news for you as that's highly unlikely going to happen. From my experience on the river most visiting salmon anglers are nowhere near tuned in enough as they've never taken the time to be shown the logic that lies behind successful salmon fishing. These generally unprepared salmon anglers have also to a degree assumed a permit and some more than likely inappropriate fishing kit is all they need. The most important component for successful salmon fishing is and always has been acquiring the actual salmon fishing skills themselves. From personal observations it seems that these days acquiring a top value brand of fishing equipment is much higher on the priority list than acquiring the 'essential' salmon fishing skills themselves.
Listen To Your Inner Self When Fishing
Once a new salmon fisher has invested the time to learn the vital basics of the sport and bedded these new skills in with a few successful days on the river it is then important they quickly move to the next stage where the real intrigue lies. This is now the time for the angler to start tuning into the mood of the river and have the tactical 'agility' to be able to adjust the fishing approach to match the often changing water or light conditions. This is also the time to start listening to your gut and make sure your fishing thoughts are always 'subsurface' as to how your fly or lure is behaving. Learn this game thoroughly and become successful and don't end up being one of the thousands of poor souls who've been conditioned to think a salmon permit on its own is all that's needed and especially when they're at the crucial first impressions stage to this often amazing pursuit.
Take A PHD In Salmon Fishing
You could spend your entire life in Scottish salmon fishing in a full time career basis and gain a huge and intimate understanding of all the 'subtleties' that go hand in hand with consistent success in this game. After taking this PHD you'll still always be learning as that 'free thinking' salmon will ultimately have the last say on many surprising occasions so the educational process is truly a never ending one. A basic salmon fishing education for any angler starts with proper kit selection (including knowing the flies or lures that consistently work) and a good grounding in casting, riverbank movement & how to set the look when their 'logical' riverbank movement technique inevitably places them in front of a taker! Follow this link if you'd like to be properly taught by a true professional Scottish salmon fishing guide.