Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Salmon Fishing Scotland Why is the Tay a great place to catch a spring salmon?

Salmon Fishing Scotland Why is the Tay a great place to catch a spring salmon?

The Tay is a superb destination to catch spring salmon as it has the strongest run of any river in Scotland plus the quality of salmon caught surpasses other rivers through its shear volume. The Tay produces larger salmon which has been evident over the last few springs. Fish in the upper teens, twenties and even the odd thirty pounds spring salmon are landed.
The spring period from January to May continues to be a positive part of the season, in 2017 the spring catches interestingly outscored the autumn yet again. The catch is becoming a more prominent part of the fishing season. This confirms the trend starting on the Tay 5 years ago with much better spring fishing. We are continuing to see the start of a change in the cycles as in the past and it would have been unthinkable in recent years that there would be more spring salmon caught than autumn fish. Further evidence of this phenomenon was a strong June ending the 2017 spring run. There is no reason that 2018 cannot be on the same lines, expectation and anticipation continues to be high.
Early in the season in cold water largely determines the catches with the beats around Stanley performing best such as Fishponds, Upper Redgorton, Upper Scone, Benchil, Pitlochrie, Catholes, Burnmouth, Taymount and Stobhall then as the water warms up the emphasis changes to the middle river in the Dunkeld area, Murthly, Kercock, Meikleour, Islamouth, Cargill and Ballathie as the fish have more energy to travel further without stopping and the fish spread. Also at this time the Tummel starts to see action with fish travelling up to Pitlochry Dam. The Tay always has enough water as it is the largest river by volume in the country and salmon run it every day of the year.
The river offers boat and bank fishing on most beats and there are daily rods available throughout the river. Famous early pools spring to mind such as Aitken Head, Horsey, Wash House, Pitlochrie pool, Back Dam, Little Head, Slap, Burnmouth pool and Linn pool on the lower river in the Stanley area. The middle river offers the Ash Tree, Rock pool, Cathedral Stream, Ferry pool, Cotter, Tronach, Garth, Boat pool, Cottage pool, Islamouth, Castle and the Long Head, all iconic names associated with the Tay. Whether you prefer to fly or spin on every beat they can accommodate your demands and the ghillies are there to help and guide you. It is a large river but in early season you do not have to cast a long way as the fish creep up the edges and tend to be in quieter water.
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 aluminum 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.
The Tay in Perthshire is a prime spring salmon fishing destination so why not give it a go?

Salmon Fishing Scotland - By Robert White

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