Monday, May 7, 2018

Salmon Fishing Scotland Prospects for Tay, Perthshire w/c 7th May 2018.

The Salmon fishing season is now in May on the mighty Tay in Perthshire, Scotland.  We have been encountering some much warmer weather after a prolonged winter. We have had good conditions last week with good levels and excellent conditions despite a rise from rain on Wednesday. The coming week is looking fairly settled with average temperatures for the time of year. This may give us some more water maintaining the river height from melting snow. On the opening months several anglers braved the elements in pursuit of that magical spring salmon. The cold weather hopefully has given a greater chance of producing some sport and some early "Bars of Silver" if you are prepared to brave the elements as any fish progress slowly through the system. Catches have improved and there is far more optimism after a slow start. 

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. Dippers are darting past getting food for their young and you could see the flash of a Kingfisher if you are lucky. Blue bells will be coming out in the woods, it is truly magical to be salmon fishing in Perthshire on the banks of the silvery Tay.

Currently the river is running fairly settled at Caputh in perfect condition ( 1’ 11) and similarly on the lower river ( 3’ 2) on the Ballathie gauge but may rise a little with some rain forecast on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The weather is to be reasonably settled over the next week with the chance of some rain on Tuesday and Wednesday with milder temperatures continuing to take us out of winter. There will not be any frost this week either. The colder conditions certainly benefit the river at this time of year slowing the spring salmon run down and giving everyone a chance to catch as they run up the river slowly however a milder weather forecast at times will give us more water and would have encouraged salmon to run the river. The water temperature was cold but now at around 48 degrees Fahrenheit or 9 degrees Celsius is warming slowly (midday temperature). These are typical temperatures for this time of year. Hopefully there might be a chance of a fresh fish anywhere in the river. 

As to methods, in settled conditions with the water warming, fishing by any method should be with flies and lures to catch the elusive Tay Springer. The recommendations are set out below for different times in the season. 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 January – 31stMay 2018 is that all spring salmon should be released, i.e. the Tay has a policy of 100% catch and release of all salmon caught in this period. Spring salmon are a scarce and precious resource. Please preserve both them and the long term future of your sport by following the release of salmon as it is a now legal requirement during this period. 

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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