Our 2016 Season So Far Update

As I sit down to write this post, I find it hard to believe we are in the middle of May already! The Scottish spring weather has been nothing short of terrible up until recent weeks! Two weeks ago I was fishing in five inches of snow on a hill loch, today we are in 20 degree celsius heats and getting tans!  You certainly don’t come to Scotland for the weather…

Our season so far has been fantastic. We’ve had many clients from all over the globe and most have caught fish in tough conditions with the odd red letter day here and there. The cold spring has definitely halted dry fly sport on our rivers with hatches sporadic and the fish rising sporadically also.
But with the warmer weather we can only see positives for the coming months.

The Grayling fishing earlier this year was nothing short of exceptional! We had numerous big fish for clients and even managed a few ourselves during quiet spells.

grayling-belly

Oh yes, she’s good…

The Chen family from Singapore had a great day in early spring, enduring temperatures more akin to winter, but that didn’t stop the fish feeding and they had a great introduction to fly fishing on the river landing, a few brown trout and grayling on the much talked about Squirmie Wormie…

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All smiles in the cold for this Singaporean family of professional fishers!

Ed from the U.S managed a stunning little Rainbow Trout on the River Tay. Rainbow Trout are not indigenous to Scotland and this was likely an escapee from a nearby trout fishery. By law we had to dispatch this fish,  but it did not go to waste and I enjoyed it for my tea!

non-indigenous--rainbow-trout-from-ay-river

An unusual catch but welcome on a hard day, gave a great account of itself and tasted darn good!

I managed to get out for a few days myself for Trout and managed this beauty at the end of March. I had to take a video on my phone to get a photo – the joys of fishing solo without a skilled photographer/guide…

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Taken on a mobile phone so apologies for poor quality..

Matt from South Africa had a great day’s sport with plenty of Grayling and Trout fishing March Brown’s down and across – everyday is learning day folks!

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Matt with a nice wild river brown.

The Trout dry fly fishing hasn’t really ever kicked of like it did last year. I remember guiding Bud from the U.S in April last year (see below) and the surface activity was unreal! Olive Uprights, March Brown’s and Large Dark Olives had the fish going crazy.

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Dr. Robertson in April 2015 nailing browns left right and centre during a huge fly hatch…

This year so far I can only recall one day similar, when I was guiding James and his father in mid April. We picked up numerous Grayling in the morning on nymphs then in the afternoon the Large Dark Olives started to hatch and the fish came on, big style!

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James had lots of action with fishein in this size bracket on the famous Olive Jingler!

They continued to land over a dozen trout between them – no monsters but all on the dry. A great day’s sport.

The father and son duo also had a great day later in the week fishing for Pike and managed two nice fish, however one slipped out of the weigh sling before we could photograph but we did manage to snap this fella…

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Nice 17lb pike for James on a small soft plastic lure and 7ft spinning rod

 

The Pike fishing in general has been consistently good and living up to our thoughts of them being the most reliable species to fish for here in Scotland. Since April we have been focusing on the Trout rivers allowing the Pike to spawn in peace.

I had a great time with local father and son teaching them how to fly fish on the River Tay. This youngster managed his first ever fish on the fly – you can see his excitement. It is hard to beat watching young anglers catch their first fish on the fly!

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Well done young man!

The Salmon fishing this spring has been slow to start but the Tay has been pretty consistent since April. The low water is making things a little interesting and the fish are running very hard at the minute. The Tummel was bouncing with fish earlier this week with many running up the Salmon Ladder into Loch Faskally.

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Fishing a very low River Earn in Spring…

I have personally managed three days of Salmon fishing and have landed two so far. I had one on the fly from the River Tay last week, with the ghillie releasing before I could get a photo with it! 🙂

And this beauty below at the end of March spinning on a tributary of the River Tay.

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Head Guide Callum Conner with a gracious selfie…

Our guests have hooked three and landed only one so far this spring! Raphael from Quebec had one day of guided fishing with Callum and managed this beauty on his fourth cast then later lost another one in the afternoon.

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Fourth cast, bang… That’s the way to do it!

This gave Raph an unbelievable fight, snagging us up twice. He done really well to land it.

This is just a taster of many jobs we’ve had so far this season.

All fishing prospects for the remainder of May look good, the water temps have finally risen, fly life has increased, the Pike have finished spawning and are now on the feed – big time. The central belt rivers are incredibly low at the minute for this time of year and a splash of rain wouldn’t do us any harm just to top up the levels.

It is now peak season for us and we are out every other day on the water. We are super excited to see what the remainder of spring and the summer fishing has to offer our clients in 2016!

Tight lines!

 

 

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.

Grayling-fishing-season-scotland

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

tay-trout-fishing-near-dundee

Fishing Near Dundee For Trout, Grayling, Salmon & Pike

We can arrange fly fishing near Dundee for Salmon, Trout and Grayling on the River Tay or Pike on scenic lochs only forty five minutes drive from Dundee city centre!

Dundee, Scotland’s fifth largest city,  is not a famous Scottish fishing destination, however, it benefits from being situated on the Tay estuary. Within a short drive you can be fishing on some of the finest beats of the River Tay system and some tranquil Perthshire lochs.

Allow us to give you some ideas for fly fishing near Dundee.

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Fishing near Dundee on the Stunning River Tay in late Summer

 

Salmon Fishing Near Dundee

Dundee is only forty minutes from the Lower River Tay which has some of the most productive Salmon beats in Scotland.

This mighty River is one of our big four Salmon rivers and produces the most consistent Salmon catches in the country.

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Salmon fishing near Dundee on the River Isla a prolific tributary of the River Tay

Dundee is also not too far from some of Scotland’s lesser known gems – the South and North Esk’s!

These picturesque little spate rivers rely heavily on rainfall to fish at their best. Provided you get these conditions they can offer some of the best value Salmon fishing in Scotland!

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Couple enjoying a days Salmon fly fishing on the South Esk

These mini rivers can be fished with single handed fly rods or spinning rods. Ideal for those on a short time-scale and no spey casting experience.

Between the Tay and Esk’s Salmon fishing is available from January 15th – October 30th.

You can find out more information about Salmon fishing trips here.

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Family from Italy enjoy a days Pike fishing with this good Pike

 

Pike Fishing Near Dundee

Pike are a favourite among our guides. These apex predators are one of the most under-rated sport fish to be found in Scottish waters. Pike grow big in Scotland, twenty pounders are not uncommon but average sizes tend to be 4-8 pounds. Even these smaller average size Pike will give you a tremendous fun on balanced tackle.

In the water months Pike can be targeted using surface flies and lures. This is the ultimate way to catch Pike as they break through the surface with bad intentions.

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Monster Pike on the fly in Scotland

We use 9ft #9 fly rods for all our Pike fly fishing from Loop Tackle Design and spinning rods and reels from the excellent Sakura Fishing lure range.

Our flies are homemade by our resident Pike fanatic, head guide Callum Conner.  A man who knows this species behaviours well and one of only handful of Scotsman to land Pike to 40b 6oz in Scotland.

Pike can be fished for all year round using bait, fly and modern lure fishing techniques.

You can find out more information about Pike fishing trips in here.

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A large Tay Brown Trout for American guest.

 

Trout & Grayling Fishing Near Dundee

The best Trout & Grayling rivers in the area are all part of the world famous River Tay system.

The River Tay itself provides excellent Brown Trout & Grayling fishing with fish averaging 3/4 of 1lb.

The Wild Brown Trout grow to huge proportions, alb plus fish are caught every year on the Tay but mostly as a by-catch when Salmon fishing.

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A typical Grayling from the Tay

The Grayling average 10-12oz but can be found larger up to 2lb in the upper reaches of the system or in the tributaries such as the Tummel and Isla.

Grayling offer year round sport and peak times are November – March.

You can find out more information about Trout & Grayling fishing trips here .

I hope this has helped to wet your appetite and consider Fishing near Dundee when on your travels.

If you would like to enquire please use this Contact Us button here or above.