Fishing Seasons in Scotland

The Fishing season in Scotland differs from river to river, loch to loch and species to species. This can become problematic for visiting anglers. We have decided to list the full fishing seasons of Scotland in this post to help visiting anglers when planning their visit.

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Our native Wild Brown Trout, one of the most popular targets in Scotland.


Trout Fishing season in Scotland

The traditional Trout fishing season runs from the 15th of March to 6th of October. Some fisheries (including the Tweed and Annan) have delayed their opening day until the 1st of April and end it earlier on the 30th of September. We can only presume this is to allow extra recovery time for the Trout and allow Salmon anglers more room during the peak back end period.

Stocked Rainbow Trout Fishing is available all year round, there is no closed season. The majority of Rainbow Trout are triploids (sexless), so they do not spawn in our waters and therefore do not require protecting.

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Traditionally the Grayling season operates during winter, although nowadays many rivers offer year round fishing for this wonderful species.


Grayling Fishing Season in Scotland

In recent years the Grayling has become a much sought after quarry for the discerning fly-fisher, particularly during the trout closed season. Subsequently most grayling season permits on our rivers run during the closed season for Trout. Please note that on many rivers the Grayling can be targeted on a Trout permit but it is recommended not to specifically target them during their spawning and post spawn periods which is generally April & May.

River Tweed & Tributaries – Available from the 1st of December to 28th March.

River Annan – Available from 1st of December to 28th March.

River Tay & Tributaries – Available all year, although not recommended in April & May.

River Earn – Available from 15th of November to 15th January.

 

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Atlantic Salmon fishing in Scotland is available 11 months of the year.


Salmon & Sea Trout Fishing Season in Scotland 

The Salmon & Sea Trout (often referred to as migratory species) fishing season is more diverse and varies in Scotland from river to river. Over centuries the Salmon have adapted their survival strategy to suit their environment, migrating at different times of the year. Some of our river management systems recognised this and subsequently adapted the seasons to suit, offering the Salmon protection during vulnerable spawning and post spawn periods.

Here you can read the full Salmon Fishing Seasons in Scotland.

 

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Pike – One of Scotland’s most popular coarse species target.


Coarse Fishing Season in Scotland

Coarse fishing is available all year round in Scotland, there is no closed season. Many lochs that allow Trout or Salmon fishing only distribute coarse fishing permits out-with the game fishing season. This is mainly to manage confusion over which species you are fishing for.

The main Coarse species that can be found in Scotland include: Perch, Pike, Roach, Rudd, Carp, Bream, Tench Chub & Ruffe.

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Pollock can be targeted year-round in some areas of Scotland.

Sea Fishing Season in Scotland 

The Sea fishing season in Scotland is like the coarse fishing season in that there is no closed period. Certain times of the year however suit different species and many can only be found during the warmer months. Sea fishing is also completely free in Scotland!

Spring Salmon Fishing in Scotland

What is it about Spring Salmon fishing in Scotland that is so appealing? In the early spring months of January and February it is essentially winter-time and we have a cheek to call it Spring! At this time of year the Atlantic Salmon are pretty thin on the ground and one requires hard work, dedication and a dash of luck to connect with that prized bar of silver!

Catching the elusive “Scottish Springer” is no easy feat. However if you are fortunate to get your fly or lure in front of a springer, it could be the catch of your season.  It is this level of anticipation that captures the spirit of the die-hard Salmon angler. A Spring Atlantic Salmon in Scotland is the ultimate, the “pièce de résistance”  if you like. If you were to ask any die-hard Salmon fishermen what’s their favourite time of year to catch a Salmon, I reckon 95% would tell you it’s the Spring. You can even include ourselves in this statistic.

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A stunning example of a spring Salmon from the River Tay for Australian Guest Mark!

 

When fishing for Spring Salmon you have to get into the correct mindset. Personally, I try not to think and over analyse my fishing too much or listen to theories. I’ll fish methodically, covering as much water as I physically can. The more water you cover the better chance of getting your fly or lure in front of a Salmon – that’s how I always approach my Salmon fishing.

The good thing for us anglers is Spring Salmon are generally more aggressive, therefore, better takers. Although numbers aren’t as prolific as they are during the back end, if you can cover them, you stand a very good chance of inducing a take.

 

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Fly fishing for Spring Salmon in April

What makes Spring Salmon or “Springers” as they are more affectionately known such a sought after quarry?

  • Fishing is more accessible & affordable to anglers
  • There is more satisfaction at catching a spring Salmon
  • Greater admiration among your angling peers
  • They take and fight with unrivalled power and aggression
  • The fish are in peak condition, beautifully proportioned, bright silver and often sea-liced

The Spring Salmon Fishing Season in Scotland

Spring Salmon fishing in Scotland effectively starts in January with the Helmsdale starting proceeding’s and then the Ness and Tay following on. The Tweed then follows, opening in February.

The spring Salmon season ends in June.

I must admit, it feels nothing like spring when fishing in those early months of this “Spring” period, in particular January and February, then through to the beginning of March. One must invest in good thermals!

Despite the cold, this time of year offers a great chance to connect with a spring run Atlantic Salmon!

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A beautiful spring salmon from the River Tay system – our favourite river system!

Our Best Spring Salmon Fishing Rivers in Scotland

The River Tay
The Tay offers the best value spring Salmon fishing in Scotland. Scotland’s largest river can boast one of the highest numbers of rod caught Salmon in Scotland. During the early months of the year the traditional Tay method of Harling (Boat trolling) is without doubt the favoured method. From opening day the lower beats of the Tay around Stanley fish best, particularly when cold as fish back up below the first real temperature barriers in the river.

These early runners tend to be headed for the upper reaches of the system, Tummel, Isla, Ericht, Loch Tay and Dochart and some can be well in excess of 20lbs!

As March begins and the water temperatures rise the Salmon runs increase with the arrival of the spring tides. as the early spring Salmon run to the furthest parts of the system and the Loch itself can produce a number of big fish in the coming weeks.

April & May sees the peak of the Spring Salmon run and during this period they can be caught throughout the system with the Middle Tay beats often the most productive. This is one of our favourite times to be on the River Tay.

The Lower River Tummel
The River Tummel is part of the excellent Tay system. This short river has a hydro electric dam at Pitlochry which acts as a temperature barrier for migrating Salmon. Salmon will congregate in their hundreds and thousands below the dam until the temperature reaches 12 degrees. Like flicking a switch, the fish counter on the dam will start rising rapidly as Salmon run the fish ladder in their hundreds daily. As the Salmon run the fishing in the lower river Tummel becomes tougher.

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The River Teith in Spring, a beautiful river with great potential…


The River Isla & Ericht 

One of the most prolific spring salmon systems in Scotland. These small tributaries of the Tay offer outstanding value for money Salmon fishing and can be fished with a single handed fly rod. What the Lower Isla lacks in beauty it more than makes up for in the numbers of fish it produces.

The Ericht is a river for the more adventurous angler, access can be a challenge but for those prepared for a scramble it offers an excellent chance of a spring salmon in Scotland, particularly in April & May.

North & South Esk
The North & South Esk have to be the two most under-rated Salmon rivers in Scotland. The Esk’s are spate rivers, fishing better after a rise in water levels. If you can time the conditions right they can offer an outstanding chance of landing a Scottish springer! The beauty of these little rivers is they can easily be fished with a single handed fly rod.

The River Tweed
One of the big four Scottish rivers more noted for its Autumn Salmon fishing. In recent seasons the Tweed has seen an increase in its spring Salmon run. The Tweed is a fly fishers dream and boasts more fly caught Salmon than any other river in the central and borders region of Scotland. It is an utterly stunning lowland river and an absolute must for the avid Salmon angler!

The River Teith 
The Teith is one of Scotland’s most beautiful rivers, given the right conditions it can compete with the best rivers in Scotland. The Teith is a big fish river and many twenty pound plus Spring Salmon have been landed from this system in recent years. It is where I caught my first ever Salmon, and holds a special place in my heart. Another must in our eyes!

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Head Guide Callum Conner admires a true Scottish Spring Salmon

The Salmon

A true “springer” will be bright silver with glints of purple down the flanks and dark grey or blue backs. (As above)

As well as fresh run spring Salmon you may also encounter a few other classes of Salmon.

Kelts are what we call spawned out Salmon. These Salmon returned to the river the previous season and have spawned during winter. The Kelts are now in a recovery stage before beginning their journey back to sea again.

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A not so well mended Salmon kelt caught in spring. Note the thin appearance and fungus on tail, this is not prevalent in well-mended kelts.

Although silver, Kelts are much thinner in appearance having used up all their body fat. They are often carrying gill maggots (see above) and are known to attack anything that comes in their general direction! Many inexperienced anglers can mistake Kelts for Spring Salmon.

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Gill maggots, a clear give away it is not a fresh Salmon and indeed a kelt.

There is also the opportunity of Rawners or Baggots, which are male and female Salmon (respectively)  that have entered the river and haven’t managed to spawn.

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Salmon Baggot caught in April

Baggots and Rawners carry more colour, faded grey, purple & brown shades along body, with brown colouration on their heads. Many will have gill maggots and ragged fins (as above). They may not be a spring salmon but they do still put a welcome bend in the rod!

Good sport can be had in the beginning months with these fish.

During the early months of spring it is vitally important you wear appropriate clothing to endure the elements and increase your chances of success.

Spring Salmon Fishing Clothing

  • Thick Merino Wool Socks
  • Merino wool or synthetic base layer top and pant
  • Fleece layer top & pant or Primaloft top & pant
  • Waterproof outer layer jacket
  • Breathable or Neoprene waders
  • Wool hat
  • Wool or windproof gloves

Click the following link to read our informative article about layering your clothing.

spring-salmon-fly-fishing-tackle

Never under estimate the importance of tackle choice…

After a few months of lying redundant it is important to double check all your fishing tackle and make sure it’s in fine order, replacing any old and damages lines and leaders for the new season ahead.

Spring Salmon Fishing Fly Fishing Tackle

Rods
12-15ft fly rods to suit the river size and med-fast actioned to aid sunk lines and skagit casting.

Reels
A smooth reliable drag is important and must match the size of fly rod and store approx 150 yards of backing.

Fly lines
Skagit iFlight, Hover sink1 shooting head, Intermediate head sink 2/3 shooting head & Full floating shooting heads.

Leaders
10ft Poly/Versi leaders in various sink rates.

Tippets
25lb Fluorocarbon for heavy tubes and 19lb for flies. And the old faithful 18lb or 20lb maxima chameleon

Flies
Monkeys, Black & Yellow, Willie Gunn & Ice Maiden in copper, tungsten and brass tubes during the colder months when it is imperative to get down to the fish.

As the water warms the usual dressed flies including Ally’s Cascades, Yellow Ally’s, Gledswood shrimp’s, Willie Gunn’s or Flamethrowers among many others work.

I am still great believer fly choice is more down to confidence and size/depth holds greater importance. Follow the rule, big water, big fly and vice versa

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Australian lady Liz spin fishing for Salmon on the mighty River Tay in May

Spring Salmon Lure Fishing Tackle

Lures
Megabass Vision Oneten’s, Devon Minnows, Toby Salmo’s, Rapala Max Raps & Kynoch Killers are the mainstays.

Rods
9-11ft rods are the norm. I prefer a shorter 9ft rod for spinning but 10ft is considered standard. An 11ft rod is better suited to fishing Devon Minnows.

Reels
I prefer a 4000 or 5000 series front drag reels with 40lb braid for Salmon spin fishing. Traditionally many use Shimano bait runners in the 6000, 8000 & even 10000. Although fine, they are are not actually designed for spinning and can be quite cumbersome reels to fish with all day, although ok for harling.

Other Handy Items For Spring Salmon Fishing

Landing Net / Gye Net
Rubber Meshed McCleans Salmon Nets take some beating. One with a gye strap when fishing alone for transportation. You don’t want to lose that elusive springer when trying to beach on your own!

Thermometer
Can aid line choice and give yo an idea of how the fish will behave. You can then alter your tactics to suit.

Towel & Spare Clothing
In the lucky event you take a tumble you don’t want to end your day early. It still amazes me how many anglers don’t do this!

Auto Inflate Life Jacket
We really shouldn’t fish without them.

Wading Staff
Acts a stabiliser and third leg when negotiating the riverbed.

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An angler awaits in anticipation as his fly swings round…

Fishing Tips For Spring Salmon Fishing in Scotland

  • Get some casting lessons from a qualified instructor during the closed season on techniques for sunk line and skagit lines
  • Layer your clothing correctly. Base layer, mid insulating layer & waterproof layer
  • Listen to local & ghillies advice – they know the river better than anyone
  • Thorough check your gear for wear prior to your trip
  • Fish deeper and slower to suit the colder conditions
  • Fish higher and faster in warmer conditions – Don’t be afraid to work the fly faster
  • Cover the river methodically, visualising your fly or lure fishing through the pool
  • Monitor any catch trends in specific areas, especially in the early stages of the season
  • Hire a guide if unfamiliar with the local fishing

If this wets your appetite for a Spring Salmon fishing in Scotland package please get in touch with us to discuss further.

Tight Lines

Callum Conner

Head Guide & Owner Scotia Fishing
Loop Tackle Design Ambassador
SGAIC Single & Double Hand Instructor

Salmon Fishing Dreams on the River Tay…

What would be classed as Salmon fishing dreams? Salmon Fishing in Scotland? Four Salmon in one day? Absolutely!
In Autumn/Fall in Scotland it’s not unheard of to experience four seasons in one day, but four Salmon in one day? To one angler? It’s almost unheard of in the modern day.
So yes, this was in-fact a scenario that happened to one very fortunate angler fishing with Scotia on the mighty River Tay back in October 2015!

Bill and Allan had driven all the way down from Inverness to come Salmon fishing on the Tay with Head Guide Callum Conner. We manoeuvred their initial date to capitalise on some last minute availability on one of my favourite Salmon beats and one of the most productive on the river. After a long drive, some motivational speech from myself then probably more importantly some caffeine, Bill & Allan and were raring to go!

I gave a quick tackle demo and briefing of where the Salmon would likely lie in this area. Bill and Allan had a few casts while we waited for the ghillie to drop off the other rods on the opposite bank. After half a dozen casts I see Bill with his rod high and arched over, yep, Bill was in…

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Bill’s first ever Atlantic Salmon, the best way to start a day! But that hat though Bill?

After a short fight he’d landed his first ever Atlantic Salmon. It wasn’t the bonniest of Salmon, it had been through the wars but still, it’s a Salmon and he was off the mark! I knew after this Bill’s confidence would be sky high for the remainder of the day and I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be his only today!

Now, the Lower Tay is a big river, even in summer lows which we were experiencing on this day. Sometimes you need to cover the pools from the boat to ensure you fish as much of the river as possible and ultimately heighten your chances of success. So off we went. Anchoring up in one of the most productive back-end Salmon pools of the lower river we had Salmon of all shades and sizes jumping around the boat! This has to be seen to be believed, the Lower River Tay can come alive with Salmon at this time of year. You would be lucky if thirty seconds would pass without a Salmon belly flopping back into the water. For someone that hasn’t experienced this it really helps to get the adrenaline flowing!

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The Lower River Tay – She’s a big’un!

Bill and Allan continued to cover the water well. Every now and then Bill would murmur a few “ooh” & “ahh, that was a hit”. After an hour one finally committed. With the drag from the reel producing some lovely music to our ears we knew we were into something more substantial than the first fish. Carefully edging the boat into the side whilst playing the fish would help us land and photograph the fish, causing the least amount of stress possible.

I had the pleasure of slipping the net under this awesome back-end Hen Salmon, sporting full spawning livery. Unhooking the fish in the net, in the water and after a quick photo she was released back to do her business. We can look forward to meeting her kids in a few years time!

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A thumper for Bill’s second of the day!

While we were on the bank we thought it would be as good a time as any to go cover the top of the beat, which had been left alone by the other anglers all morning so any likely Salmon lying there had not been disturbed yet. With the top run looking very promising I stuck Allan in front of Bill aka “hot rod” to try get him into the fish first. Before I could even wade back out I hear “fish on Cal”. Yup, you guessed it, he’s in again – haha. A few choice words were aired in good jest at Bill as I made my way back to do the honours for him.

This was a sparkling bright sea liced cock Grilse of around 6 pounds that gave a spirited fight with many nerve wracking, head shaking runs close to the net. A quick photograph and back he went! Big hand shakes and congratulations were voiced to Bill who had released his third Salmon before lunch – what a morning!

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A beautiful third Salmon for Bill. This one with sea-lice straight from the ocean!

Three Salmon was the half time score and we retired to the hut for a welcome hearty Scottish themed lunch and a celebratory dram! A quick chat with the other anglers and it was soon apparent that Bill had been the only fortunate angler this morning despite the obscene amount of airborne Salmon seen throughout the beat!

The afternoon session would see us fishing the bottom section of the beat from the left bank. Again, I thought I’d put Bill down behind us in the hope Allan would cover any likely fish first before Hot Rod could work his magic! After a few minutes I had to remind Bill about wading too close to the lies. A quick briefing of the likely resting areas for a running fish on the inside seam of the run and a few casts later resulted in the fourth hook-up of the day.

Another great fight from this chunky little Salmon ( or Grilse – a  1 sea winter Salmon ) and once Bill subdued her I slipped the net under his epic fourth Salmon of the day!

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Salmon number four safely returned to continue its journey.

Another quick photograph and back she went. “Pretty easy this Salmon fishing Bill isn’t it?” I was delighted for Bill, he now owns the Scotia Fishing record for the most Salmon in one day – which is more than my personal record of three and last seasons best of three!

Fishing is funny, Allan had the exact same set up and fishing the same areas as Bill yet never touched anything? I felt for him and I think as anglers we’ve all been there before – sometimes you are just luckier than the others?

Thankfully Bill was better at fishing than he was at selecting his choice of headwear – which was atrocious Bill! 🙂 This became a running joke throughout the day with Bill taunting the other anglers asking if they would like to wear his “lucky” hat.

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Hey son, did I tell you I caught four Salmon today?…

 

This was one of the most memorable trips from 2015 and I was over the moon for Bill, especially given the long commute endured to make this happen.

I emailed Bill recently to sum up him his day for me in a  few words, here was his response:

I spend a good bit of time fishing the coastal and inland waters of Georgia and South Carolina, primarily the Savannah to Charleston area. I’ve been waiting for years to fish Atlantic Salmon in Scotland and Callum Conner provided that opportunity. I caught 4 beautiful fish, 3 before lunch and 1 in the afternoon.

Callum provides the all-round best Salmon fishing experience! Perfect setting and the right equipment for us Americans to experience the Lower Tay. Callum is a congenial host and guide. Listen to him – he knows his fish! He knows his way around the kitchen too. The fish and potato stew was just right – hearty, simple and filling. It was a great way to spend a day fishing with my new son-in-law, since he learned that the ‘old man’ could still out fish him. We call him the son-in-awe now!

Bill Easterlin

‘The son in awe’ – love it Bill!

Big thanks to my good friend and Ghillie Harry Proud. Not to forget the Salmon gods!

The next client to beat this record will receive a fine bottle of single malt Scotch Whisky courtesy of Scotia Fishing!

“Five Salmon in one day for Scotia Fishing guest” – I do like the sound of that…

For more info Salmon fishing dreams on the River Tay please visit our Salmon fishing in Scotland package or contact us now to enter our enquiry form.

Tight lines!

Salmon Fishing on the River Tay in Scotland

Salmon fishing on the River Tay in Scotland holds a special place in our hearts. It is our most local river that’s part of Scotland’s “big four” salmon fishing rivers and we would argue it offers the best value Salmon fishing in Scotland. The River Tay is Scotland’s largest river, flowing an impressive 117 miles from source to sea.

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Stunning Autumnal light when Salmon fishing on the River Tay!

The River Tay is steeped in tradition and Salmon fishing history. In-fact the biggest ever Salmon caught in the UK was caught on this very river back in 1922 by Miss Georgina Ballantine. It is still the British record rod caught Salmon to this day and unlikely to ever be beaten!

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Salmon fishing on the river tay in Scotland during low water conditions in September.

Scotia Fishing provide guided Salmon fishing on the River Tay from opening day in January up until the last day in October.

The great thing about the River Tay is fresh fish run the river from opening day, until the last day of the season. This means you will always have a chance at landing a bar of silver!

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A great back-end Salmon for Dan from Oklahoma on the River Tay!

The River Tay has a great spring, summer and back end run which makes the river very unique and consistent throughout the season.

The tributaries of the river Tay have some of Scotland’s most prolific spring salmon catches. If you time it right,  they can offer you one of the best chances of landing a spring Salmon in Scotland!

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Can you spot the jumping Salmon

Salmon Fishing on the River Tay

The Tay is one of the few Scottish rivers that will fish in mega low summer levels right up to 12ft above summer levels which was conditions we faced on the last week of the season in 2014 and still caught fish!

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Ronnie with a coloured back-end hen typical of fishing in the fall & autumnal months.

Up until the end of the 2014 season the Tay ran a trial extension period for four years with the season running to the end of October. This was a great idea in our eyes but following a vote in December 2014, land owners on the river have opted against this being applied for on a permanent basis.

This is a shame, as on the second last day of the season in 2014 we were still catching bright bars of silver like the one below.

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A stunning wee Grilse from the 2nd last day to the extension season.

 

There are so many picturesque beats offering first class Salmon fishing on the River Tay with great ghillies and facilities to match.

Different sections of this magnificent river fish best at different times of the year. Scotia Fishing will use our knowledge and experience of fishing and guiding on the Tay to select you the best beat suiting your requirements to give you the best opportunity possible of landing that prized Atlantic Salmon!

Our packages include:

  • Hotel pick ups
  • Permit / License
  • Personal guide per 3 anglers
  • Qualified tuition
  • Full safety equipment
  • Top of the range fishing tackle hire
  • Breathable waders & boot hire
  • Hearty Scottish themed lunches & non-alcoholic drinks
  • Photography to keep as a souvenir
  • Complimentary fine dram of single malt whisky

 

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A stinker of a salmon from the River Tay. Caught on the fly by Scotia Fishing owner..

We offer one of the best value services in Scotland and have built up a reputation for delivering results. Don’t just believe us, check out the independent reviews on Trip Advisor.

Please visit our Salmon fishing in Scotland package page or get in touch using the “Contact Us” button to find out more information about Salmon fishing on the River Tay in Scotland.