The Scottish salmon fishing season is now well underway on a number of rivers in the Highlands as well as on the River Tay. There has already been a handful of fresh salmon caught from the River Tay which is good to see and hopefully there will be plenty more to follow in the days and weeks ahead.
Catching a Scottish spring salmon on the fly has to be the ultimate achievement in our wonderful sport. These fish, especially during the early spring months, can be hard to come by simply because not many of them run our rivers in the early spring. As anglers what can we do to increase our chances of making contact with one of these magnificent creatures?
When fly fishing for salmon especially during the early spring months it is important to try and be bold in your approach. Generally, in January and February river levels are quite high and water temperatures are low. Therefore, there is no need for subtility when it comes to fly selection. Make sure that you are using a fly which Is of a decent size and shows up well in the water. Tube flies of various lengths and weights usually work well during the early part of the season. As often you are searching for a fish a larger, brighter fly is more likely to catch the attention of a running springer.
It is also important to cover as much ground as possible early in the season. Often there can be little point in spending time concentrating on just one pool unless of course, you are seeing fish regularly. The fresh springer (a fish that has been in the river for no more than 48 hours) is usually quite aggressive and can often take a fly quite readily. It can, therefore, be more about finding the fish. The more water you cover with a bolder fly pattern the greater the chance is of coming across a fresh fish.
The times at which you fish during the early part of the season can also be critical. In Scotland, at this time of year, the warmest part of the day is often between 11 am and 3 pm. This when the fish are likely to be at their most active. As many beats stop for lunch and have a strict pool rotation policy it might not be possible to fish through this entire period. However, it is worth keeping your fly in the water for as long as you can during these times.
When fly fishing for springers it is also important to make sure that your fly is moving through the water column at an adequate depth. With water temperatures often being low during the early part of the season the fish are likely to be lying close to the river bed. The fly can be made to fish deeper by either using either an intermediate or sinking line or by selecting a heavier fly. It is unlikely that in cold conditions a fish will come surging up from the depths towards the surface to intercept a fly.
One of the key ingredients to success during the early part of the season and at any time of year is perseverance. The old adage of “If your fly is not in the water, you won’t catch” rings true. It can be easy to get disheartened in the spring especially if there are not many fish showing. However, if you keep covering the water and fish with confidence there is every chance you will make contact with some Scottish early season silver!
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