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Summer Fishing in Scotland 2016 Update

The 2016 Summer fishing in Scotland is almost coming to an end – where have the months gone!
Apologies for the lack of updates with the blog, we’ve had a lot going on at Scotia HQ.

We’ve had a very positive season with many clients visiting from across the globe including USA, Canada, Australia, Europe and Asia. Our summer has been rather cold, which although not so pleasant for those visiting the country on vacation, has made for better fishing conditions!

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Scotland in summer, it takes some beating for natural beauty!

Late spring and summer period has seen some great fishing spells for all species, particularly salmon. The Tay has received consistent runs throughout the summer months with many multi sea winter Salmon mazing an appearance throughout the river system.
The lower river has fished particularly well from July onwards, with some beats having their best July for over a decade!

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Returning the new record Salmon landed 18lbs of Tay silver!

Our clients felt the rewards of this with some good catches. The highlight of the bunch had to be returning customer Jacopo (only 13 years of  age) landing a Tay powerhouse 18lb Atlantic Salmon!

Kid Catches 18lbs Salmon From River Tay Scotland! from Scotia Fishing on Vimeo.

This young man is a little superstar!

Also having a great day was big Sebi from Switzerland with a stunning brace of Tay silver on the fly! Not bad for your first time ever Spey casting!

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A few “woo hoos” were in order!

His girlfriend also lost two spinning – what a day that could have been!

With the colder weather our rivers fished very well and we had much better brown trout fishing than last year. We picked up a number of nice browns on nymphs during this period.

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Robert (Rab) aka 603 Fly Guy with a nice brown on the Euro nymphing set up!

I had a great day out with Robert on the river chatting about all things fishy – the fishing was as good as the banter also!

Cody had a cracker right at the close of play, proving it pays to fish hard to the end!

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Cody’s new PB Brown Trout on the Frenchie…

As well as the ever obliging and very welcome Grayling…

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Rafael’s first ever Grayling!

The Hill loch brown trout fishing has been hit or miss, on the colder days it has almost felt like winter up at these higher altitudes, putting the fish down. We have still managed to catch a few though!

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It can be cold up on the tops of these hills. Still as beautiful though!

Leonard had some good sport fishing traditional Scottish wet fly tactics.

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Leonard with an average wild brown trout…

The Pike fishing has been consistently good with fly and modern lure fishing tactics. For a couple of weeks the big fish were hard on the feed and our clients landed some great pike during this period on lures..

The biggest of the season so far goes to Piotr using light lure fishing tackle.

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As fat as they get, this Pike was sitting under some of the largest shoals of Perch fry I have ever seen!

Chad managed a cracking first ever Pike on the fly.

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A hard fighting Pike on fly…

Just look at the beautiful colouration on these Pike!

I managed a couple of short breaks myself including a three day trip to Iceland (report to follow soon). I also took a recent foray up to the Highlands with my partner. We were unlucky with the weather though and endured some spectacular wind and rainstorms, which put an end to the fishing, but made for some interesting photographs!

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Tornado like wind storms up in the Highlands of Scotland

The summer fishing period in Scotland is coming to an end for 2016. With the arrival of Autumn we hit one of the best times of year to fish for all fresh water species in Scotland.
It is also one of the most beautiful seasons to be on the water with the leaves turning on the trees and misty mornings – I can’t wait!

Tight lines!

Callum Conner

Scotia Fishing Head Guide
SGAIC Qualified & Loop Tackle endorsed Instructor

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.

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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

Fishing in October Scotland 2014

What a great month of Fishing in October in Scotland for Scotia Fishing. The Trout season ended on the the 6th but our main focus in October is  Salmon fishing in Scotland as it is peak season. After the driest September on record the rains arrived in October, improving the Salmon fishing slightly on all our rivers, especially the River Tay!

The first guided fishing trip in October Scotland was for Atlantic Salmon on the River Tay.  The river was still low, the water hadn’t arrived yet and despite the beat being full of fish they had gone a bit stale and off the take. We had tried everything to fool one into taking but they just weren’t interested. We kept on fishing as if we were trying to catch running fish, hoping eventually we would land it in front of one’s nose but on this occasion they got the better of us!

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Can you spot the jumper?

It can be a frustrating old game Salmon fishing when the fish are behaving like that but still, it’s not a bad place to spend a day is it?

Lennie was out Pike fishing in Scotland in October with Mike and his wife from USA. They managed a few hard fighting Scottish Pike in tough, cold squally conditions using soft plastic lure tactics from the boat. Mike had a great day and sent a lovely message to Lennie to say thanks.

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Mike displays a nicely marked Pike

With the recent Pike success we headed back out with Phil and his partner to try for Pike fishing in October in Scotland using soft plastic lures. The temperatures had really started to drop at night now and the water temps were down 8 degrees from our previous visit. We could all feel the chill in the air and had to add a few extra layers! We managed to get a few Pike still despite the colder temperatures but the sport had definitely slowed down from the previous visit.

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Phil’s first Scottish Pike with head guide Callum Conner

Phil was out with me the following day, this time fishing in October for Salmon on the River Tay, which was looking glorious in it’s Autumnal colours! The river was a decent height after a big rise and was looking good. Fish were showing throughout the beat, I felt really confident we could get a Salmon. We started on the Vision 110 after a discussion with Phil he was keen to spin and avoid losing time learning to Spey cast effectively.

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Stunning views upstream as the warm light illuminates the trees

Phil fished hard all morning and just before lunch fishing one of the pools we covered a big cock fish, easy high teens that was jumping quite regularly. After five or six casts it smashed the 110 and Phil’s rod bent into the fish, only after a few strong head shakes it came off! I was gutted more than Phil was in all honesty, even more-so that we didn’t manage to connect with any more fish before the close of play. Phil still had a great experience and thanked us via email for an awesome time despite his recurring nightmares about losing that fish!

 

Lennie was out the same day with Lesley on the River Tay. Conditions were pretty good for this area of river and there was no shortage of fish in this beat, they were just proving difficult to tempt! Spinning from the boat in the morning Les managed to get a cracking looking cock fish in it’s full spawning colours.

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Aren’t they impressive?

I was back out for Salmon with Alyssa, a young American exchange student that flew in from Holland especially to fish for Salmon in Scotland. Alyssa was an interesting young lady studying fisheries management and had an impressive knowledge of fish and fishing. We were fishing a big river, 6ft above normal level and decided spinning would be the best to cover the most water. Alyssa fished hard all day and despite seeing a few Salmon we couldn’t manage to connect with any.

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Alyssa from Colorado – She loves Scottish Tablet!

Alyssa really enjoyed her day and left us a fantastic review on Tripadvisor but forgot to mention her introduction to Scottish candy “Tablet bar” on the car journey home! (Hope you are reading this Alyssa!) :).  

“I am an exchange student studying fisheries biology from the US studying abroad in Holland, and I made a goal to fish in as many countries as I could while I was overseas. I knew I wanted to try for Salmon in Scotland, so I contacted Callum at Scotia Fishing to guide me for a day. I had never had a guide before, at home I fish regularly for trout and warm water species and have never needed a guide. Going abroad, however, I figured I’d need someone to show me the ropes. I made the best choice I could have!
When I met Callum, he was warm and friendly and right away I felt comfortable. He is an extremely knowledgeable and trust-able angler, he really impressed me with his knowledge of fisheries, and I would recommend him to anyone for a day of Scottish fishing. Even though I was far away from home in a place I’d never been before fishing for a species I’d never seen in real life, I felt like I was at home fishing with a friend. It was certainly one of the best days on the water I’ve ever had in my life, and no doubt the scenery was breathtaking.
If you are considering using this guide service, DO IT! You won’t regret it!”

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Calling for a cab on the river tay…

It was another awesome day, with great company, good conversation, great laughs, beautiful scenery with pheasants and kingfishers flying by occasionally – fishing is not just about catching fish!

On the last week of the Salmon season the river rose to over 14ft causing one re-scheduled trip for next year which was a shame. By Thursday the river was still high but running clear and definitely fish-able! Thomas from Missouri was back in Scotland for his second attempt at Salmon fishing and looking to break his duck (no pressure huh?).  It didn’t take us long, within 20 minutes of fishing we had this beauty in the net!

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Fish on!

I was delighted to see Thomas get the fish he had been after for a few years and it was great to see such silver fish on the second last day of the season.  After a few high fives and and a few “yeehas” all round we got stuck back into the fishing, after another 30 minutes we were in again but this one managed to escape after a few seconds, still, it was a promising start! 

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Thomas got a fantastic fight from this fish – you can see the delight on his face!

After a nice hearty casserole for lunch we were back out on the opposite side of river, we fished the long run which was looking rather tasty, fish were showing and I had a good feeling about this. As we fished down we went back onto the killer spoon lure as we came towards the area we had seen a fish jump. Right on queue, as the lure swung round it nailed the lure just under the surface. 

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And he’s in again!

After a short energetic fight I slipped the net under Thomas’s second Atlantic Salmon of the day, a spanking wee Grilse which is extremely unusual but very welcome sight at this time of year!

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A stunning wee Grilse is returned to carry on it’s journey

For the last hour Thomas wanted to have a go on the fly and after a short spey casting lesson from Loop endorsed, SGAIC qualified instructor he was double spey’ing a red francis across the Tay – all we needed now was a taking fish! As the light closed in it was time to end the day with two Salmon landed, one small Trout and one lost Salmon – not a bad day’s fishing by anyone’s standards and another happy Scotia Fishing client!

 

Final day of the Salmon season on the Tay and I had my Swiss friend Arnaud back out for Salmon with his best friend Basil. From pick up in the morning at 7:30am they were as high as kites, their dream has been to fish in Scotland for Salmon and what better place to to fulfil this dream than on one of the lower Tay’s best and most scenic beats?

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Arnaud deep in concentration..

Despite high conditions and ridculously mild weather (16 degrees in Scotland at the end of October – crazy!) we felt confident, there were still fish running and plenty of residents to go at also. Spinning was the preferred method for both the guys and they fished like demons all morning but couldn’t muster a take – c’est la peche! 

Basil was full of the beans and a very entertaining character, the dram of Whisky at lunch time got him fired them both up as well as a top up of their local tipple “Williamine”, a smell and taste I will not miss boys sorry! The hipster cap went on back to front now, Basil meant business!

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Basil with his lucky hipster cap…

Fishing the opposite side of the river we had a few fish show in front of us and this photo below will be my favourite memory from these guys. As I took a photo of them a large Salmon jumped out the water about 6 feet away from them – much to their amusement.

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“Did you see that?”

Despite their effort the guys didn’t manage to land a Salmon on the final day of the season – maybe they just had other things on their mind?
Still a great day and a great day to finally let them get on with their business and draw an end to a tough Salmon fishing season, with some great laughs on the Tay, the Tay, the silver Tay, the greatest river on earth!

In October we managed to get out and fish in between guiding, fishing the same beats we take our clients. Callum managed a few when fishing in October in Scotland for Salmon.

 

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A fine example of a Scottish Salmon!

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A nice back-end Salmon from one of my favourite pools in Scotland – The Craig’s

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A baby crocodile!

We still have availability in November with Salmon fishing available on the river Tweed, Nith and Annan. 

Grayling fishing is now reaching it’s peak and we have availability throughout winter for guided Grayling fishing trips with two for one offer running from November – March 2015. Grayling offer fantastic winter sport and can be caught throughout the colder months no matter what the temperatures drop too.

If you are interested in fishing for one of our most beautiful species please get in touch by clicking here.

Tight lines!

Callum & Lennie

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