Scottish Fishing Season Report 2018

The 2018 Scottish Fishing Season is now over. So firstly I’d like to wish happy new year to all our readers, past clients and future clients fishing with us in 2019.

2018 was a very strange year fishing wise. It was a long winter with as much snow as I can ever remember in my lifetime in and around the Edinburgh area. There is something special about fishing in the snow I must admit. But as a travelling angler we can fully appreciate that, although you don’t come here for the weather, you don’t really want to be out fishing in the snow!

                                  Searching for silver early season…


Spring decided to make an appearance in Mid April it literally went from snowing to temps in the mid-teens over night. T-Shirt weather we call that here in Scotland! We then had months with very little rain which kept the rivers at an all-time low for most of the season from May – late September. That was eventually when we saw a reasonable rise in river levels. The water didn’t last and any left we got was away in almost away again 24 hours on the Tweed.


This cold start certainly affected the fishing with the Trout never really rising until later in April. On a whole the Trout dry fly fishing wasn’t anywhere near as good as the previous year, without doubt due to the weather. May saw some good steady hatches and we had numerous shots at trophy Brown Trout but not many managed to grace our net. They don’t get big being silly that’s for sure!

That said we did manage a few respectable leviathans!

Stefan with a respectable Trout – look at those colours!


Serious Scottish Brown Trout for female angler on fly!

Our Pike fishing season was consistent with reasonable results most days and almost zero blanks. No real monsters but we managed fish to mid-high doubles on both the fly and lures. Winter dead-baiting normally throws up a few of the big girls but no such luck this winter season. One thing we did notice was a slight change in their behaviours this season on our usual loch, with the fish changing where they normally like to feed. I think this was a result of the long winter keeping the smaller stickle backs and minnows in deeper water and entering the shallows until summer.

One of the seasons pike highlights was our Canadian client that landed this Pike on a popper with one of the most aggressive takes from nowhere I have ever seen! Amazing fun!

What do they say about bananas in the boats?

And this gentleman was on the receiving end of a hard time from this angry Pike which took a Sakura bait fished over the top of a weed bed hotspot.

This Pike led Paul on a merry dance around the boat!

The 2018 Salmon fishing season in Scotland will not be remembered as a good one on a whole that is for certain.  The extended drought put water temps sky high and oxygen levels low. The river level on the Tweed and Tay is the lowest I have ever seen it in my life and the lowest ever on the records. This kept the Salmon in the estuaries for longer and very few were running the rivers – particularly the spate rivers.

That being said, we had our best year ever for Salmon catches for our clients!

Luke with the first of our season!

With our first spring Salmon landed in March we managed to tick away with fish every month despite the incredibly tough conditions. Why? I can only put this down to good luck and praying to the Salmon gods on a daily basis!




As perfect as they come!

One of the spring season highlights was returning client Mr Weil aka “lefty” with an absolutely pristine fresh 16 1/2lb Atlantic! A bar of silver!

We also managed to break one of our ducks with woman Salmon anglers. Ingrid managed to land her biggest ever Atlantic Salmon on the River Tay fishing the fly under the guidance of Callum Conner.

A few “yeeha’s” and “whoo hoo’s” were in order!



And another record breaking day was fishing with the Swedish legend – Magnus!  I have to type and tell you this long story of an incredible two days of Salmon fishing we had on the Tay and Tweed.

Day 1:  Magnus was fishing on the Middle Tay on one of thee nicest fly fishing pools and one of my favourites, the “Castle Pool” at Upper Islamouth. A beautiful wad with gravel bottom and steady flow which tails of into a v section with a few boulders just screaming out Salmon lies!


Thankfully number three made it to the net!


Magnus went through the Pool twice in the morning hooking into three fish but only landing one, this pristine fresh fish above taken on a Red Frances after following my advice to change his fly.

After lunch we moved into the “Boxwood Bush” pool – another very productive pool that we’ve done well with clients in the past. Magnus fished down through the normal areas into the tail when the line tightened up – fish on!

This was on for a good few minutes before shaking the hook! A few casts later and we’re in again!

This one managed to stay on and we netted a this angry cock fish displaying full spawning tartan!


An old warrior on the Phatagorva!

Magnus then proceeded to hook another two fish but lost both! Frustrating but still, what an amazing day of action! Next up was the Tweed – could he continue his luck?

I was very open with Magnus about the chances today as the river was desperately low. We opted for single hand tactics and fished a small Sunray.

On walking to the top of the beat I noticed lots of clear gravel patches which to me indicated practice spawning redds. “There is definitely Salmon here my friend!”.

A nice coloured hen to start!

We decided to fish in this area after covering the top two pools with no success and needless to say the Swedish hot rod hooked his first Tweed Salmon sat just off the Croy on the opposite banking!

After lunch, we headed down to the bottom beat. Fishing my favourite pool here we set about with the Sunray with no action until I saw a fish head and tail – they’re here! We changed to the Red Frances and this managed to tempt two coloured fish including this Alpha Male in full spawning livery on the single hand rod – amazing fun!


Proper cock fish in full tartan!


Magnus mentioned this was his best ever two days of fishing having fished for Salmon in Sweden and Norway and has never caught so many.
Even more satisfying  – his wife bought him this trip for his Birthday. These are the kind of touching moments you can experience as a guide and why we do it!

The biggest Salmon of the season went to a complete newcomer to the sport with this big hen fish at 18lbs from the Tay which gave an unreal fight on the Sakura Salmon Spinning rods we had them make especially for us.

18lbs of Tay power!

The Grayling season was another reasonably consistent one. With the fishing going in cycles it has been noted by the Tweed foundation that stocks are lower at the moment but s of 2019, rising again.

This is a common seven year cycle we experience with Grayling ageing and dying off. We have noticed lots of small 4/5 inch yearlings this winter so it bodes well for the next few years!

Jim’s biggest from his two days fishing – what a beauty!

Grayling still featured very regularly in our clients catches with a real mix of sizes from 10oz – 3lb mark. During the height of summer and low water they were affected and catches did understandably suffer during this period. Particularly the bigger Grayling which really do seem to sulk in the warmer conditions. The smaller fish under 1lb will still feed quite heavily.

The Autumn and winter fishing was challenging at times but our clients managed to pick away on the harder days with one or two fish. What we can say is the quality and size at the moment is some of the best I have seen with fish often 2lb class and perfect condition.

Here is Rich who fished the exact same date last year, returning his first of the last of our fish from 2018 – not a bad way to end!


Last trip off the year returning client Rich returns another good fish!

So 2018 season on a whole was a difficult but rewarding one – it is not usually as tough as this but it is challenging fishing. I think that is a fair assessment of the fishing here in Scotland. It is not easy, you have to work for the fish. However the challenge and rewards are huge with exceptional quality of fish to be had if you put the time in.

The 2019 season has got off to a flyer with the Grayling and good to see the tay and Tweed get opening day spring Salmon – I’m very optimistic a good year of fishing in 2019!

Tight lines!


Spring & Early Summer Season Fishing Scotland Report 2018

It’s Mid July! We’re half way through the fishing season in Scotland and I find myself with an office day… I must update our blog!

Firstly apologies for the lack of content, we’ve been so busy! I hope our Instagram has kept you excited with all things fishy in Scotland!

March started off well for us with a Salmon landed for my American guest!


Luke with a Springer from the River Tummel!

This one had been in the river a few weeks and was taken from a very fruitful lie for us this season. We had just lost one here the week before – same fish? Who knows!

Despite the well documented poor spring run of Salmon, we’ve had our best season ever! April into Mid May saw us land 11 Salmon for our guests and only lose two!

The biggest of the bunch was this 16 1/2lb stunner for returning guest Brant (Lefty) Weil.


Brant with our seasons largest Salmon so far!

Regular readers of our blog may recognise Brant fished with me on the Tweed last October and also managed a Salmon on the fly!

It is fair to say the Spring Trout fishing hasn’t been as productive as recent seasons. This was partly due to the cold start to spring.  This followed a surge in temperature which saw a couple of weeks of great fishing before it fell away.

We still managed some stunning Browns though!


His first ever Brown Trout – bravo sir!

Here my English guest displays a pig of Brown Trout! This was caught nymphing in early April amidst a sleet shower!

This Trout was landed 500+ yards downstream of where we hooked it! Yes, his first ever Brown Trout would you believe it!

German guest Stefan made the most of a lift in water and topped off his Salmon from the Tay (after losing four in one day!) with this yellow bellied beauty!


Butter bellies!

The Grayling fishing in early pre-spawn was great! We haven’t seen the numbers we would normally see, but the quality is excellent!


We managed some epic fish to 2lb 10oz for our guests and head guide Callum Conner managed a stunning 2lb 13oz Tweed Horse!


Early season the guides get to fish!


The Pike fishing through late winter and spring was ever consistent. We managed lots of Pike up to the 15lb mark but no sign of the big mammas!

As the water warm up and the lack of rain continues, the Pike fishing will really come into its own.


Chunky one for Paul visiting from the USA

Here is a nice double caught last week for our American Guest Paul.


What a fighter this one was!

And another American guest Catherine with a nice one too.

As we come into the warmest part of the year we are still experiencing low and warm water conditions on our rivers which makes fishing conditions a bit more challenging.

Hopefully there is some rain soon to freshen things up. I have a good feeling about later summer and fall fishing this year!

Tight Lines!

Callum Conner

Trout & Salmon Front Cover!

First of all Happy New Year to all our readers! As the title suggests, this is my first published front cover image!

I was delighted to get a call from Trout & Salmon magazine about one of our Grayling images they’d like to feature on the front cover of the February issue of the magazine.

Trout & Salmon is undoubtedly the UK’s No.1 fly fishing magazine and features some of the best in the business in their appropriate fields.


                                             Yeah boy!

It needed a little tweaking to fit so I had to wait anxiously before receiving a reply from Andrew Flitcroft that it was all good!

It’s been a goal of mine in recent years to achieve this so I am delighted to finally get there. I’ve had a few inside the magazine but including a double spreader but this is the first front cover!

The images is a first Grayling for a client I guided on the River Teviot. It is definitely one of my favourite Grayling images!

Also great to see our sponsor Loop Tackle on front cover too!

What a positive way to start 2018!

Returning Clients

One thing we take great pride in at Scotia Fishing is the volume of returning clients we’ve had – this year alone!

We feel this is better than any Tripadvisor review or testimonial. It proves the level of service we provide is of high standard to make people fly back from all corners of the globe to fish with us again in Scotland.

In four years Scotia has grown to become one of the leading providers of Guided Fishing Trips in Scotland. We’re now Scotland’s highest rated guided fishing service on Tripadvisor, receiving a certificate of excellence in 2016.

Here are some photos of returning clients and a bit of story about them!


Nice Winter Pike for Mr Penrod!

Mr Penrod from Chicago has fished with me every year since day one of Scotia! We’ve been out for Pike and Grayling and then back on the Pike – Salmon next..


His first fish on a fly rod – not a bad Grayling!

A larger than life character he is an absolute pleasure to spend a day with and I look forward to seeing him every March!

Young Jacopo from Milano!


Young Jaco with his third big grayling of the day!

What can I say about this young man, a superstar! Jacopo fished with me two years running. First year he landed some great Pike and Grayling, and lost two Salmon whilst fishing for Grayling – crazy day!

On his return visit he fished for Pike and had two days at Salmon. The first day resulted in nothing despite an impressive effort. I asked Jacopo if he preferred to chase Pike the following day or come back for another try at Salmon, he answered without hesitation “I want to catch a Salmon”.


A perfect late summer run River Tay Salmon!

Ten minutes into day two saw us land this magnificent River Tay Salmon at 18lbs – one of my favourite ever guiding moments!

Jack and Joe from Canada fished with me in Year two for Pike and had a blast! Catching over ten Pike in a day to modern lure techniques.


Young Jack the Pike slayer!

They returned in 2017 on a new quest for Jack’s favourite – Grayling, and on the fly!


Jack putting a nice bend into the 3 weight on a Scottish Grayling

Despite tough conditions they managed to fulfil this goal and land some Scottish Grayling on the fly! Young Jack is a great little fly fisher and I hope to see them back again in another few years to target Salmon!

Hiroshi from Japan was working in Scotland for Mitsubishi and decided to do a day with us to see what fishing in Scotland was all about!

First day was a search for Salmon on the River Tay. Despite a sterling effort we never managed to hook any on this day.


Beautiful River Tweed Brown Trout

Hiroshi then came back for a return trip  couple months later to fly fish for Brown Trout & Grayling.

This day was a lot more productive and Hiroshi (a first time fly fisher) had a great day with around two Trout & Grayling all on fly.

His next trip he wanted to try my recommendation of Pike!


A very respectable Pike for Hiroshi

What a day he had with over 20 Pike from 4lbs up to 15lbs on baits in the middle of winter – a great days fishing by anyones standard! Hiroshi enjoyed it so much he booked another two trips a week later!

Tom from the mighty USA fished with me in my first year. We spent a day on the River Tay in final week of the season fishing for Atlantic Salmon. Tom had already fished with a guide the previous year for Salmon but had a fruitless day.

Well, he got of to a flyer with us and in the first ten minutes landed this Salmon despite the river being 7ft above summer level!


Tom off to a flyer – not a great photo but look at the smile!

He also managed another later in the day, a fresh run Grilse.  Two Salmon in a day is a great result by anyone’s standards!


Tom’s second of the day – a sea liced grilse!

This year Tom managed to sneak in a day whilst on vacation with his good lady. This time it was late spring on the River Tay.


Tom on the Tay again!

Fishing was tougher on this occasion, despite seeing a number of Salmon (they were bounding about everywhere), we couldn’t manage to hook any!

Jonathan has fished with me twice over the last two years, opting to do a casting refresher and sharpen up his skills for the coming seasons efforts.


Circle c’ing like a boss!

I have had an absolute blast helping him improve his spey casting and now he has progressed onto the snake roll cast!


Justin the show off! Look at that backdrop!

Louis & Carl fished with me in 2016 of Salmon on the last day of the season at the River Tay. River was big but the fish were in the mood and they managed a few hookups and Louis landed a nice Sea Trout


Nice wee sea trout for Louis!

And Carl landed a coloured Male Salmon, typical of end of season.


Carl’s first ever Salmon in full spawning livery!

In Spring 2017 they returned to try fly fishing on the River Tweed! This time they fished hard all day with Suszy (mum) losing a belter of a Brown Trout!


Louis the little legend!

Louis saved the day at the last cast with this stunner of a Grayling!

Dan & Kate fished with me in my first year for Pike and had a great day using spoons they had custom made with their wedding date on them! How cool is that?


A proper chunk Scottish Pike!

In 2017 they returned on a mission to catch Scottish Grayling and do a day on the Pike lake again!

The Pike wasn’t as productive as their first year but they manage a few Trout & Grayling with this one the highlight of the trip.


Lovely grayling for Dan the man!

This is just a small selection of the clients we’ve had return over the past season. We will look forward to seeing more in 2018!

Tight Lines

Callum Conner

MD & Head Guide @ Scotia Fishing