Over recent days, the weather across Scotland has turned notably colder. There have been frequent overnight frosts and there is now a decent covering of snow over the Scottish mountains. Hopefully, over the winter months there will be further snow on the peaks as this can be vital in ensuring a productive spring salmon fishing season in Scotland next year. Over the past few years, the winters have been generally mild and there has been very little snow on the hills. In fact, Scotland has not endured what you would call a “hard winter” for several years.
The reasons why heavy snow lying on the mountains can be good for salmon fishing the following season are twofold. Firstly, usually during the early spring months from February to early April there is no shortage of water in our rivers. Therefore, the spring salmon that enter our Scottish rivers can run upstream quite easily. However, as we move into late April and May often there is much less rainfall. In actual fact, May can often be one of the driest months of the year. It is at this time of year that temperatures also usually start to rise. If there is a good covering of snow on the Scottish mountains when we get to late spring, then there is likely to be decent water in our rivers as the snow will melt as temperatures rise. Scottish salmon rivers like the Dee and Spey amongst others can be very dependent on snow melt and often having a lot of snow on the mountains can make the spring season very productive.
Another reason why having snow on the hills is important is because of the potential change in water temperature. When there is a lift in water due to melting snow, the water temperature in the river drops. The colder water will often slow down fast running springers. When you get to late April and May, often fresh springers tend to run hard upstream, especially when the water starts to get that bit warmer. However, a lift in water due to melting snow will lead to a drop-in water temperature and slow some of these fish down and make them rest that big longer in the pools.
As salmon anglers in Scotland, we always pray for hard a winter. In recent years, it has just been unfortunate that this has not come to fruition. Who knows what the winter of 2017 will have in store. There will however be many anglers with their fingers crossed that there will be plenty of the white stuff in the Scottish mountains!