We are now into mid-December and Christmas is just around the corner. Many anglers have been hard at work at their fly tying vices creating those killer patterns for next season. In actual fact, the new Scottish salmon fishing season is less than four weeks away. Soon after the New Year festivities, many hardy anglers will be dusting down their salmon rods in preparation for the upcoming season.
In Scotland, each salmon river has a different date for opening. Most of the rivers across the country are open by mid-February. The first rivers in Scotland to open are the Thurso, Helmsdale and Halladale. These rivers open on the 11th of January. Soon afterwards the mighty River Tay opens its banks to anglers on the 15th of the month. Fresh fish have been caught from the Helmsdale river on opening day a number of times, and it is always a good bet for some early season sport. The River Tay also produces fresh fish on opening day each year, and some of these fish can be big in size.
At the beginning of February, rivers like the Dee and Spey and Tweed also open. The River Dee is an excellent spring river, and traditionally, it has produced good numbers of early fish.
A lot depends as always on the weather, as it can be quite unpredictable so early in the season. Often anglers have to contend with intermittent snow showers, rain and a howling gale. River levels can also be unsettled which can make salmon fishing difficult. If, however, the weather is reasonable during the early spring months, there is no reason why there should not be good numbers of fresh fish caught.
Having kelts in the pools, during the early part of the season also helps. These are last years fish that have already spawned. Most of these fish eventually die in the river itself but some do make it back to the sea. If this is the case, they feed again in salt water and come back to the river in a few years’ time. Fresh spring fish that enter the river will often lie beside kelts, and this slows their journey upstream, giving the opportunist angler more of a chance to intercept one of these magnificent salmon. If water levels remain at a reasonable height during the early part of the season, there should be a decent head of kelts in most rivers across the country.
The start of a new Scottish salmon fishing season is always eagerly anticipated and it is not long to wait now. In less than four weeks, we do it all again!