It does seem that we are now gradually moving closer to being able to fish for salmon once again in Scotland. On Sunday the UK government announced the gradual easing of some restrictions around lockdown and from this, it became quickly apparent that from today people will be able to salmon fish once again in England. However, people living in Scotland will have to wait a bit longer as apart from being able to exercise more than once a day little has changed. It does though give cause for optimism that we will be able to wet a line in search of that silver tourist in the not too distant future.
It has been a very dry spring period. Indeed, April was one of the driest on record across the UK and this led to water levels on many of Scotland’s salmon rivers dropping away. If anglers were allowed to fish many would probably be doing a rain dance. The dry weather was down to large areas of high pressure which centred themselves over or close to the UK and this led to largely settled and sunny weather.
Last weekend a cold front spread down from the north bringing much cooler conditions to the UK. On Sunday in some places, there was even some snowfall. The cold front, however, was associated with some rain and this was heavy at times in the north of Scotland. This has led to a decent lift in water on a number of rivers in the region. These rivers have included rivers like the Oykel, Cassley and Spey amongst others.
Having a lift in water in May can often make all the difference for a number of reasons, especially if there has been somewhat of a dry spell. Firstly, a lift in water will always make it more likely that any resident fish in the pools may take. Some of these fish would have been in the river a few weeks and with river levels dropping they would have become settled in their lies. However, a lift in water could well have encouraged them to travel upstream and for a short period of time also become more aggressive.
In addition to this, as we all know a spate can also encourage any fresh fish lying in the estuaries of some of the river systems to run upstream. By mid to late May, these fish are usually late-running springers but towards the end of the month, even the odd grilse can start to run the rivers. In the north of Scotland salmon have been seen splashing about in decent numbers in some estuaries just waiting for water. So, the influx of fresh fish into the river system can be key if you are going to have a successful salmon fishing trip in May.
Finally, another bonus of there being a good lift in water is related to conservation. At this time of year, many salmon parr and smolts start to travel downstream. They are very vulnerable to being targeted by sawbills and the problem is amplified in very low clear water. The lift in water not only encourages these juvenile fish to travel further downstream where often they are safer, but it can also make it more difficult for predators to target them.
So, as you can see there are many reasons to rejoice in the fact that there has been a lift in water on some rivers across Scotland over the past few days. With anglers being allowed to fish for salmon in Scotland again looking ever closer this recent lift in water may just have come at the right time!
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