The Tamar salmon season runs from March 1st to October 14th. The trout and sea trout season runs from 15th March to 30th September. Grayling fishing runs from 16th June to 14th March.
In accordance with Environment Agency national byelaws, all salmon caught before 16th June must be returned. In addition, the Tamar and Tributaries Fisheries Association (TTFA) recommends that a maximum of one salmon can be taken per rod per day, with 70% of all rod-caught fish returned. All fish of 10lb or over to be returned after 1st September.
Salmon make an appearance in spring on the lower river, with the first fish often caught from the tidal beats at Gunnislake in late March or April. Numbers of fish soon build, and they can be expected anywhere on the river, including the tributaries, from May. In general, Tamar salmon do not run large, with a fish in the teens of pounds being notable.
The first sea trout are usually caught in May, and these early fish are generally large - between two and five pounds. They do not run in big numbers, so serious fishing for them doesn't usually start until early summer when the pools will have filled with fish.
Salmon fishing begins in earnest with the grilse, which run the river with the first high water of summer from July onwards. Among these fish will be a sprinkling of multi-sea-winter salmon, weighing into double figures. Given adequate water, the peak time for salmon fishing on the river as a whole starts in August.
Sea trout fishing is at its peak in July and August, coinciding with the Tamar's large run of smaller fish, the 'school peal'. Most fish are taken on a fly at night when the weather is settled and the water is clear, a time when balmy summer nights bring the westcountry's most exhilarating game fishing. These fish are also regularly caught during the day under spate conditions. Interestingly, Tamar sea trout can be taken on nymphs or even dry flies during the day in low water, unlike on some spate rivers.
Summer salmon on the Tamar
Undoubtedly the most prolific salmon runs are towards the end of the season, with September and October being the best two months. Large spates at this time of year can obviously render the main river and tributaries unfishable at times, but these will also encourage numbers of fish from the tide.
By September, most of the sea trout have been in the river for a while, so will be starting to show signs of colour and can become trickier to catch. Fishing can still be good, but on the whole, the best of the sport will have finished.