Monday, October 9, 2017

Salmon Fishing Scotland Prospects for Tay, Perthshire w/c 9th October 2017.

Salmon Fishing Scotland Prospects for Tay, Perthshire w/c 9th October 2017.

The Salmon fishing season is now well into the Autumn on the mighty Tay in Perthshire, Scotland as we enter the last week of the season in mid-October and we have been encountering some rain at times resulting in fresh water in the river. The river has been a bit unsettled for quite a period with regular rain showers but the rain has brought the river up and it is now dropping back nicely. The lower river levels have not stopped some fish running and triggering off reasonable catches, however, the increased flows should have helped even further. We have had some unsettled conditions in recent times with rain raising the river but that has now settled which hopefully will continue to give more optimism plus a reasonable summer run entered the river since July with the hope of some more autumn fish to come. The nighttime temperatures have dropped as well cooling the river and triggering off more aggression in the resident fish resulting in improving catches. The weather hopefully will remain reasonable to give a greater chance of producing improving sport and good fish.
On the nature front, as autumn arrives the Sand Martins, Swifts and Swallows have now departed quickly, the Ospreys have already gone for warmer climes, Ducks have their broods of young growing up steadily and Kingfishers dart past on the river banks. Recent weeks have seen the first Geese arriving. Odd wildflowers are still in bloom, the autumn colours are now showing, it is truly magical to be salmon fishing in Perthshire on the banks of the silvery Tay where a salmon is now a bonus.
Currently, the river has dropped back after rain recently and settling with improving conditions (around 3’ on the Ballathie gauge) however rain from the west will maintain heights to hopefully encourage more salmon to run.
The weather has been again unsettled over parts of last week with rain and that theme will continue for this coming week with some rain forecast but mainly in the west which hopefully will not upset the river too much. Some heavy downpours have given the river some water from rain in recent weeks but the river has steadily dropped back to just above summer levels again. This current week continues to look a bit unsettled with some rain forecast at times. Calmer weather will settle the river back to good levels and make ideal autumn fishing conditions. The water temperature is now cooling to 52 degrees Fahrenheit or 10.5 degrees Celsius at the start of this week and should remain at that level in the current weather conditions with colder nights. This is good news making the resident salmon more aggressive and more likely to take. These are typical temperatures for this time of year. Hopefully, there might be a chance of a fish anywhere in the river.
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 will have to be a bit quicker with large lures to catch the elusive Tay Salmon. 20 pounds main line with a 15 pounds leader plus favoured lures include Devons, Toby Salmos, Vision 110’s and Rapalas, for spinning and smaller Temple Dogs, Tubes, normal dressed flies and Monkies for fly fishing. The Tay is a large river but modern lines should make turning over and casting larger flies easier and the fish tend to be near the bank in larger waters. Floating lines and sink tips are now on the agenda as we go over the magical 48 degrees and into summer. Harling is also a favoured method on the river to cover the lies for the less experienced.
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 a 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 is 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.
The 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 than 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 from June to the end of 2017 Season is that
• All hen fish of any size and all cock fish over 10 pounds should be released.
• All coloured and gravid fish to be released.
• No more than one clean fish weighing, where possible, less than 10 pounds should be retained per angler per day.
• Anglers should not use worms in September or October in any part of the district.
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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