Due to the current global Covid 19 pandemic, no one is quite sure when we will be able to fish in Scotland again. So much depends on how the virus spreads and how the lockdown rules will be eventually relaxed. It would be fair to say that there is a chance that salmon fishing in Scotland may resume again in late May or early June. If that is the case what are the tactics that are likely to work best at this time of year?
Of course, as always, much depends on the weather and water levels. Usually, by late May there are decent numbers of spring salmon entering many of Scotland’s salmon rivers. There is also the chance of catching an early grilse. Usually, grilse start running our rivers from June onwards but towards the end of May, they start to trickle upstream.
At this time of year water levels can often be quite low and with plenty of daylight, fishing unsociable hours can sometimes pay rich dividends. May can be quite a dry month in Scotland and towards the end of the month, it can also become quite hot. If that is the case, then often fishing early in the morning and then again before dusk can prove to be effective. This is a much better plan, especially if it's very bright, hot and sunny than flogging a dead horse through the heat of the day.
During the early spring months often heavy sinking lines or lines with fast sinking tips are required to get the fly down in the cold water but as we move through May this often changes. The fish are more active as water temperatures rise and they are often lying closer to the surface of the water. So instead of using the heavy sinking lines, a floating line with a short poly leader which will just get the fly under the surface of the water can be just the ticket.
It may also be worthwhile scaling back on the breaking strain of the nylon that you are using. Leader material with a breaking strain of fifteen or even eighteen pounds is commonly used during the early part of the season. This because you are regularly using heavier flies and so the heavier nylon is better at turning the larger fly over when casting. Once you get into May and June lighter nylon with a breaking strain of ten or twelve pounds may be more than adequate. Also, if the water is low and clear there is much less chance of spooking the fish when using lighter leader material.
In terms of flies, usually, the heavy tube flies of early spring can be cast aside. Instead smaller dressed flies can work well especially ones which are lightly dressed and have quite a subtle appearance. If the water is low and clear there is no need to use big gaudy flies. If the water temperature is high enough surface flies like the Sunray Shadow stripped quickly can also work well.
No one knows exactly when we will be able to wet a line again on Scotland’s salmon rivers. Hopefully, it will be within the next six weeks. If that is the case, then by scaling back your tackle and using smaller flies and lighter nylon and choosing carefully the times that you fish could be the key to success when targeting those late running Scottish springers!
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