Monday, June 4, 2018

Salmon Fishing Scotland Prospects for Tay, Perthshire w/c 4th May 2018.

Salmon Fishing Scotland Prospects for Tay, Perthshire w/c 4th May 2018.

The Salmon fishing season is now in June on the mighty Tay in Perthshire, Scotland.  We have been encountering some much warmer weather after a prolonged winter became a memory. We have had good conditions last week with much lower levels and excellent conditions but maybe occasionally a bit bright and very warm. The coming week is looking settled with good temperatures again. There has been some more water maintaining the river height from heavy thunder downpours. On the opening months several anglers braved the elements in pursuit of that magical salmon but conditions are much warmer now and it is a pleasure to be out on the river. The cold weather hopefully has given a greater chance of producing some sport and some early "Bars of Silver" if you were prepared to brave the elements as any fish progress slowly through the system. The changing weather has enabled fish to spread with water temperatures now well into the fifties. Catches have been maintained but certainly not at the levels expected for the time of year however there is a bit more optimism after a slow start. 

On the nature front the Sand Martins, Swifts and Swallows are in the skies, 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 are out in the woods and the wild flowers are out in bloom, it is truly magical to be salmon fishing in Perthshire on the banks of the silvery Tay and a salmon would be a bonus.

Currently the river is running a bit dirty and at lower levels following thundery downpours at the weekend. It is at Caputh (10”) and similarly on the lower river ( 1’6 ) on the Ballathie gauge and should clear and settle with a good forecast.

The weather is to be settled over the next week with little chance of rain and again warmer temperatures welcoming us to summer. The warmer temperatures would have encouraged salmon to run the river and get into the upper areas as fish start to shoot through the ladder at Pitlochry. The water temperature was cold but now is over 60 degrees Fahrenheit or 15.5 degrees Celsius following very warm weather. 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, there has now been a bold change in policy following poor catches so far this season and you are reminded that the Tay's policy from 1stJune until the end of 2018 season is that all salmon should be released, i.e. the Tay has a policy of 100% catch and release of all salmon caught in this period. salmon are a scarce and precious resource currently. Please preserve both them and the long term future of your sport by following this request from our current board. 

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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