It would be fair to say that many of Scotland’s salmon rivers are enjoying a productive summer season so far compared to recent years. Anglers fishing on rivers like the Spey, Dee, Tay and Ness amongst many others have enjoyed some great sport in recent weeks. Is this because the rivers have been rested for a period of time due to the lockdown restrictions earlier in the year or is it because of other factors? 
With salmon fishing, nothing can be fully explained. That’s why we love our sport so much. What can however be said is that many Scottish rivers have produced excellent numbers of fresh grilse and larger hard fighting summer salmon this year. It would be an oversimplification to say that the reason for the improved catches is because the rivers were rested for a number of weeks during lockdown. There were definitely some good catches on a number of rivers immediately after lockdown. If we cast our minds back to the week that many rivers started allowing anglers back to fish it was very hot and sunny. There were very good numbers of fish caught on some beats, unusually so, in such difficult conditions and this was likely to be because the fish had been rested and not seen a fly or lure for some time if at all. However, this is unlikely to be the reason why the summer fishing has been so good this year compared to recent years.
The vast majority of fish that have been caught from Scotland’s salmon rivers in recent weeks have not been in the river since lockdown. Most have been in the river for a few weeks, if that. Therefore, the effect of lockdown can probably be discounted. Instead, we need to look a few other factors which may have certainly helped.
If we take the weather into account this summer, on the whole anglers have been very lucky. Most rivers have seen regular lifts in water. This has not only encouraged fresh fish to run up from the estuaries but also helped keep conditions fresh. This can often be an important factor during the hot summer months. Secondly, there has also been no sustained long heatwave so far this season. This in turn has meant that water temperatures have been relatively low compared to other summers and with very few hot sunny days anglers have not just had to restrict their fishing times to first thing in the morning and then again at night. It would therefore be fair to say that the Scottish weather has definitely played its part so far.
It also does appear that many beats on our Scottish rivers are busier this year during the summer period. Indeed, bookings on some beats are much improved this season compared to previous summers. This could be because more people are choosing to holiday and fish in Scotland instead of travelling abroad as they normally would in the absence of a global pandemic. If there are more anglers fishing on Scotland’s salmon rivers it is likely that more fish will be caught.
However, the biggest factor appears to be that there are more summer fish around this year. At the end of the day, you can have the best weather and water conditions in the world and lots of anglers willing to salmon fish in Scotland but if there are no fish then catches will not improve. There does appear to be more grilse around this year on many of Scotland’s salmon rivers which is really encouraging. There also seems to be a decent head of larger summer salmon. When you combine this with more anglers fishing on some beats and good fishing conditions you have all the ingredients required for a good summer season.
Let us hope as we move through August that the salmon catches on Scotland’s rivers hold up well and subsequently there is a good autumn run. That would be a great way to end what has to be one of the strangest years this world has ever seen!