Monday, May 22, 2017

Salmon Fishing Scotland Prospects for Tay, Perthshire w/c 22nd May 2017.

Salmon Fishing Scotland Prospects for Tay, Perthshire w/c 22nd May 2017.

The Salmon fishing season is now four months old on the mighty Tay in Perthshire, Scotland as we enter mid May and we have been encountering some lovely blue sky spring weather over the last week. Melting snow all be it only a small amount and rain had kept the water up until a about a month ago which may have encouraged fish to run and trigger off an improvement in catches which was evident again last week, however the very bright weather and low water started to slow things down. We have had settled conditions over the past week or so which hopefully will continue to give more optimism and now there has been some rain as well at long last rising river levels slightly. The weather hopefully will remain reasonable to give a greater chance of producing some sport and some early "Bars of Silver" if you are prepared to brave the elements.
On the nature front the first Sand Martins, Swifts and Swallows have arrived, Ospreys are being seen, Ducks have their first broods of young and Sand Pipers are on the river banks. Blue bells are out in the woods and the Lupines are starting to bloom, it is truly magical to be salmon fishing in Perthshire on the banks of the silvery Tay.
Currently the river is still at a low level despite some rain recently with excellent conditions (below 9” on the Ballathie gauge) to hopefully encourage more spring salmon to run but this may change with the rain forecast.
The weather is to slightly unsettled over the start of the week with rain forecast at long last but then to settle down with warmer temperatures. There is a chance that this may give us more water and spice the river up encouraging even more fish to run. Milder temperatures and no rain have basically brought the river down to summer levels however the river is still big enough to encourage salmon to run by its sheer size, we are just fishing another river within it now. The milder weather has given us higher water temperatures which would have encouraged salmon to run the river including over 1000 fish through the ladder at Pitlochry. The water temperature is rising with much warmer weather recently and is hovering around 55F or 13C over the last few days and should remain at that level with the current forecast although we may that rise with warmer days and no frosts. The temperature in recent days will encourage salmon to run throughout the system as earlier resulting in fish being caught well up the system depending on water levels. Hopefully there might be a chance of a fresh fish anywhere in the river.
The Tay in Perthshire is a prime spring salmon fishing destination so why not give it a go?
Popular hotels to stay in the area are the Tayside Hotel in Stanley, Ballathie House, The Meikleour Arms, Murrayshall Hotel, Scone and the Royal Dunkeld Hotel.
As to methods, in settled conditions fishing by any method should be slow and deep with large lures to catch the elusive Tay Springer. Harling is also a favoured method in early season but be warned wrap up well or it will not be a pleasant experience.
Tackle recommendations for fishing the Tay throughout the season.
Fly Rods.
The Tay is a large river especially when running at a normal level and even in lower levels you are fishing another river within the mighty one so therefore a 15 foot fly rod for a 10 weight line is certainly minimum requirement for much of the season. Do not come under gunned. In some parts of the river where it is especially wide even longer rods are used. It should be noted however that it is better to cast a shorter controlled line than try to cast out with your capabilities and have the lines end up in a mess and decrease your chances.
Fly Lines.
In early season when the water is cold you need to cast larger flies and get them deeper in the water to fish them slowly. There is a tremendous choice on the market nowadays which can be quite confusing to many anglers. Any type of Skagit line that can easily cast a 15 foot sinking leader of various depths is a good choice especially to the less experienced. Iflights and a tip of choice attached are another good bet as these lines enable you to cast a longer line than normal with ease. For more experienced anglers, there are a vast array of shooting heads of different sinking abilities available as well. These tactics can be used in late season as well when the water starts to cool down.
Once the water temperature starts to climb by April then tactics change to mainly floating lines and sink tips with much smaller conventional flies. Again, the choice of lines is incredible from longer belly Spey lines to shooting heads. If you go to shooting heads, then it is important to choose a good shooting backing as line management can be a big issue casting longer lines on a river such as the Tay.
Spinning Rods.
You should have a minimum of a 10 foot rod for casting baits of 20gm to 60gms.
A main line of 20 pounds in nylon or 30 pounds in braid. You should use a lesser poundage far a cast such as 15 pounds so if you get caught up on the bottom you do not lose a large part of your main line.
Tobies from 18gm upwards. Toby Salmos are very popular in 30gms. Conventional weighted Devon’s are good especially in the Spring. Rapalas and Vision 110’s are very effective and of course Kynochs are popular for harling.
What flies should I take?
In early season bigger flies such as Tube Flies, Temple Dogs and Monkey type flies up to 2 inches in body length and larger conventional patterns in 4’s and 6’s in lower water are required. A point of note is that a lighter Tube such as an aluminium or plastic body is far easier to cast than brass. Current line technology enables you to get these lighter flies to the correct depths. Ask your ghillie for tip advice on the day.
As river temperatures rise to a more conventional approach then a size range in your box should be from 6 in higher water to 12 in lower water and even smaller on exceptionally low conditions. Cascade type patterns seem to be the most popular and recently feeler flies have come to the fore. It is always worth a go with a Sun Ray type fly with a long wing whether casting normally in colder conditions to stripping it fast in warmer water.
Finally, you are reminded that the Tay's policy for April and May is that all spring salmon should be released, i.e. the Tay has adopted a policy of 100% catch and release for spring salmon. Spring salmon are a scarce and precious resource. Please help preserve both them and the long term future of your sport by following the recommendations. It is vital the river system follows these guides to ensure the draconian rules do not get extended in seasons to come.
When releasing salmon please try to keep the fish in the water as much as possible to give them every chance to recover prior to release. Releasing fish from boats in the river is not recommended. Further information on the policy and good release practice.
The Tay Ghillies Association are continuing their popular FISH OF THE MONTH AWARD to encourage good catch and release practice on the Tay. Each month the winner will receive 2 personalised crystal Whisky glasses engraved with details of the catch and they will automatically be entered into the fish of the year competition for a Stylish Crystal Engraved Decanter. Full details of this initiative.
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 the reports.

Salmon Fishing Scotland - By Robert White

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