When salmon fishing in Scotland every beat on the river has a number of named pools. These are stretches of water within a beat where the salmon are likely to be resting before they carry on with their journey upstream. Salmon pools can vary in length, depth and character greatly. Some can be short (a few yards) and only take a few minutes to fish. Conversely, others can be much longer maybe a few hundred yards and take an entire morning or afternoon to fish. Some salmon pools will fish better at different heights of water and also at different times of the year. The names of each pool date back generations and there always is some interesting Scottish salmon fishing history associated with them.
Normally the head of the pool is where the pool starts and sometimes there is a decent flow of water in this part of the pool. Often the fast streamy water going into a head of pool can be quite shallow. This part of the pool can often be good early in the morning and then again late at night especially during the summer months as the fish move into more oxygenated water in low light conditions. If the water is shallow at the head of the pool being stealthy in your approach can pay rich dividends as it is easy to spook fish in shallow water.
The main body of the salmon pool is often wider and slower. It can also be much deeper. This can be where the bulk of the fish lie. If this part of the pool is deep it can give salmon the feeling of safety especially in low water conditions. If there is limited flow this can be the place to ambush a salmon in high water as they may look to lie out of the main flow.
Finally, we come to the tail of the salmon pool. This where often the pool gets a bit shallower compared to the main body. Some anglers overlook the tail of pools which can be a big mistake. This is the first place where a salmon running upstream enters the pool and often they can rest in the tail. The tails of salmon pools can be highly productive especially later in the season.
It is very difficult to generalise when it comes to salmon pools as each one is so different. Many pools are steeped in tradition and very quickly as angler, you will have favourites. When you come to Scotland on a salmon fishing holiday you will have the chance of fishing some wonderful salmon pools and hopefully create some fantastic memories which will live with you forever!