Sunday, January 16, 2011

Salmon Fishing Scotland River Tay Opening Day Report and Prospects for the coming Week.

Salmon Fishing Scotland River Tay Opening Day Report and Prospects for the coming Week.

River Tay Opening day Report 2011.
The river is flowing extremely high after the weekend thaw and very dirty as I write. The colour may take a few days to disappear especially on the lower river.
The weather is to be drier and much colder this week, which should bring the levels down and give us good high water conditions to allow some sport on all beats.

The 2011 Salmon Season opened on the Tay on Saturday past with great publicity in the press and on television. The various issues and activities appeared on Television, Radio and Press giving the river high exposure.
There were opening day events throughout the Tay district with the larger ceremonies taking place at Dunkeld and Kenmore. There was another gathering at Dunkeld for the second year where the Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board in conjunction with the Dunkeld and Birnam Tourist and Angling Association held its Tay opening day event to put across the issues of the river and in particular the Tay Board recommendations of total catch and release in the spring to conserve stocks.
The day started with VIP guests and Anglers marching through the town of Dunkeld behind the Blairgowrie pipe band for the opening ceremony. The Dunkeld and Birnam Angling Association chairman welcomed everyone including Tay Board chairman Bill Jack, John Swinney MSP and Scottish Parliament Finance Minister and local MP Pete Wishart. John Swinney officially opened the river and Bill Jack outlined the issues and objectives of the Tay Board for the coming season as well as wishing everyone success. John Swinney made the first cast of the season and the river was up and running for 2011.

There was also an Evening Gathering, which was well attended to celebrate the Opening Day in the Baronial Hall, Birnam Hotel in aid of the river Tay Projects and the Dunkeld and Birnam Angling Association Youth Developement. There was a supper and a ceilidh with the absolutely exceptional music from Pete Clark and Steve Gilles.
The Redford Trophy winner for the largest spring salmon caught on the Opening day was not announced as the conditions on the river were not great due to the rain and quick thaw.
Conditions on the Opening day were not great with a thaw well under way and heavy rain after all the snow we had had since the last week in November. The lower river was big and coloured making it impossible. The Middle and Upper River was running clearer but rising quickly.
There was one very lucky angler on the Tay on Saturday up at Kenmore. Lee Conway from Glasgow caught a lovely spring salmon estimated at around 20 pounds, which so far is the only opening day fish for 2011. I am sure once the river settles back there will be quite a few more in the following weeks.

Many thanks to all who have sent me their individual fishing experiences over the last season on the river. I would be most grateful if you to do the same this season by emailing me at to be included in this report.

Prospects for the coming week.
The river is flowing extremely high after the weekend thaw and very dirty as I write. The colour may take a few days to disappear especially on the lower river.
The weather is to be drier and much colder this week, which should bring the levels down and give us good high water conditions to allow some sport on all beats.
The lower Tay at Benchil just below Stanley, Perthshire, Scotland in flood.

The water temperature is 35 degrees Fahrenheit or 2 degrees Celsius meaning you have certainly to spin or fish a fly slow and deep.

With very cold and low water recently it is likely that most springers will have been bottled up in the lower river. However, a rise in water should encourage them to move, but with water temperatures still low they might not run that far, i.e. race through to Loch Tay. Hopefully there might be a chance of a fresh fish anywhere in the lower and middle river. There will no doubt be quite a few kelts about on many beats and possibly some later run fish, which have yet to spawn.

Hopefully the return to higher water conditions will see the spawning season wind up quickly, but if you find such fish, please avoid gravelly areas where they might be spawning. The river is running at a good height and cold meaning the salmon will be running slowly and favour the lower Tay beats conditions permitting.

There is good availability throughout the river so why not have a go.

As to methods, once the river settles fishing by any method will have to be slow and deep with large lures to catch the elusive Tay Springer. Harling is also a favoured method at this time of year but be warned wrap up well or it will not be a pleasant experience.

Finally all anglers are reminded that the Tay's policy for Catch and Release in 2011 is that we now recommend every angler should release all spring salmon to conserve stocks for the future . Salmon are an extremely precious resource. Please do what you can to conserve them and therefore produce more salmon for the future.

To help you follow our guidelines I have included these helpful pointers.

How to SAFELY Release a Salmon
“The best method of releasing a salmon is to leave it in the water
and touch nothing but the hook with fingers or pliers.
“Whatever the method, care combined with speed, will give the fish the best chance of survival.”
Lee Wulff, Atlantic Salmon Journal Winter 1964/65

• Use barbless or pinched hooks
• Retrieve your fish quickly; release it immediately
• Keep the fish in the water
• Use rubber or knotless cotton net, if one must be used
• Cut the leader if necessary
• Remove the hook carefully
• Hold the fish gently in natural swimming position, facing upstream until it revives
• Don’t pump the fish. That is, don’t move the fish back and forth in the water.

How should hooks be removed?
Very Carefully
In quiet water, bring the wild salmon quickly within reach. Leaving the salmon in water and without squeezing it, remove the hook carefully with pliers or thumb and forefinger. If a net must be used, it should be rubber or knotless cotton. If necessary, cut the leader near the fly and spare the fish.

The Science of Live Release
“Peer-reviewed science supports live release as a proven and effective conservation tool.”
Dr. Fred Whoriskey,
ASF Vice-President, Research & Environment

Studies in North America and Europe have shown live release works, and in some instances Atlantic salmon have been angled 2 and 3 times.
Science has shown that virtually all Atlantic salmon will survive when released, as long as the angler uses the proper techniques, refrains from angling in overly warm water, and does not overplay the Atlantic salmon.
Like athletes sprinting on a track, Atlantic salmon build up lactic acid in their muscle tissues when they are being played.
The Key is Oxygen – The fish need oxygen in order to recover and continue their journey.
To recover, Atlantic salmon need:
• careful handling by the angler to reduce stress
• to remain in the water where they can breathe and reduce the oxygen deficit in their tissues
• to be held in an upstream position for water to flow more easily across their gills

Photographing Your Spectacular Live Release Salmon.

Use a photo partner:

* Digital camera: make settings on the camera before you begin fishing or use a point and shoot film camera. Give it to your partner before the angling session.

* Whether a digital camera or a film camera, tell your partner to fill the frame, and take several images.

* If it is a film camera, be sure there is film in the camera. This may seem to be a simple matter, but mistakes do happen...

Let your Partner get into Position:

* Tell him/her what you are going to do. Alert your partner before you take the fish out of the water.

Support the Atlantic salmon:

* Carefully take the barbless hook out of the fish’s mouth. With rod tucked under your arm, move one hand to the base of the tail. With your other hand, support the fish under the forward part of its body. Keep it in the water, with the fish pointed upstream to help its recovery.

* If a third person is present, give him or her the rod to hold, so you can concentrate on the wild salmon.

Take the Picture Quickly:

* With your photo partner warned, raise the wild Atlantic salmon partially out of the water for less than five seconds - or consider leaving it semi-submerged for the photo instead!

Return the Fish to Continue its Spawning Run:

* Support the salmon underwater in a natural position facing the current, handling it as little as possible. Give it time to recover. The goal is for the wild salmon to swim away on its own.

* Digital cameras offer the opportunity to adjust the film speed to suit conditions. In low light, such as evening, morning, heavy cloud, or deep shadow, consider setting the speed to 400, to take care of both movement and the low light. Experiment beforehand on speeds above 400, as many digital images become heavily pixilated at greater sensitivity.

* Remember to adjust the white balance for deep shadow, to warm the image.

* Today’s print films even at 400 speeds are superb. Use 400-speed film at dawn, dusk or in shadow.

* Don’t forget to smile! Your photo is a valuable memory.

If you have any news or pictures of catches or experiences on the Tay and you would like to share them please email me on to be included in this report.

Tight lines.

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