Water temperature can be critical when it comes to salmon fishing in Scotland, especially during the early spring months. The temperature of the water can often dictate the tactics you employ when chasing silver.
Usually at the beginning of the season water temperatures are low. This is because in Scotland at this time of year there is very little sunlight and so the water in our rivers does not get a chance to warm up. Also, if there is melting snow on the mountains, this can also lead to a drop in water temperature. If the water temperature is low, it often slows the fish down as the move further upstream. In addition to this, the fish will usually lie very close to the river bed. In such circumstances it is important to get your fly well down in the water column. It can also be beneficial to try and get the fly to move as slowly as possible. The salmon are not very active when the water temperature is low and therefore a fly moving deeply and slowly can often produce the best results.
As we move into late spring and summer the water temperature in our rivers tend to rise. Any snow remaining in the Scottish mountains has now melted. Salmon entering the river systems often run hard in the warmer water. It is during these times that smaller flies and floating lines can produce the goods. There is often a lot of action close to the surface of the water, with fish moving regularly. Also, flies like the Sunray Shadow can work well at this time of year.
It can be hard to believe, but sometimes during the summer months in Scotland, when the water is very low and after a prolonged heat wave the water temperature can be actually too high. In such circumstances salmon fishing can be very difficult to catch and often the fish can go off the take and show little interest in a fly. If this is the case, it is worthwhile fishing during the coolest times, so early in the morning and then late in the evening can often be the productive period.
When it comes to the autumn months, the weather can be quite variable. It can be quite warm with low water and so similar tactics that work during the summer months can be employed. If, however, it is cold and there are hard night time frosts, the water temperature will drop. If this is the case, then a return to the tactics used in early spring can pay rich dividends.
So as you can see water temperature is critical when it comes to salmon fishing in Scotland. If you can adapt your tactics to the changes in water temperature, then you increase the chances greatly of making contact with that big Scottish salmon!