(Last updated: Monday 16th April)
The Salmon fishing season is now in mid April on the mighty Tay in Perthshire, Scotland. We have been encountering some varied conditions with cold wintery weather over the last week or so and prior to the
Opening but that is now changing with milder weather at long last. We have had good conditions last week with good levels and excellent conditions. The coming week is looking fairly settled with higher
temperatures. This may give us some more water from melting snow but hopefully not colour the water especially on the lower river again. On the opening months several anglers braved the elements in pursuit of
that magical spring salmon. The cold weather hopefully has given a greater chance of producing some sport and some early "Bars of Silver" if you are prepared to brave the elements as any fish progress slowly
through the system. Catches have improved and there is far more optimism after a slow start.
On the nature front the first Sand Martins, Swifts and Swallows are starting to arrive, Ospreys are being seen, Ducks are about to have their first broods of young and Sand Pipers are on the river banks. Dippers are darting past getting food for their young and you could see the flash of a Kingfisher. Blue bells will be coming out in the woods, it is truly magical to be salmon fishing in Perthshire on the banks of the silvery Tay.
Currently the river is running fairly settled at Caputh in perfect condition ( 2' 6) and similarly on the lower river (just above 4') on the Ballathie gauge but may rise further with rain forecast on Tuesday and milder weather melting snow.
The weather is to be reasonably settled over the next week with the chance of some rain on Tuesday and Wednesday with much milder temperatures gently taking us out of winter. There will not be a frost any night in the coming week and temperature will come up as the week progresses. Colder conditions certainly benefit the river at this time of year slowing the spring salmon run down and giving everyone a chance to catch as they run up the river slowly. A milder weather forecast at times will give us more water and would have encouraged salmon to run the river. Colder weather will settle the river back to a good level and make ideal spring fishing conditions. The water temperature was cold but now at around 45 degrees Fahrenheit or 7 degrees Celsius is warming slowly (taken on lower river at midday on Monday). These are typical temperatures for this time of year. Hopefully there might be a chance of a fresh fish anywhere in the river. There will no doubt be quite a few kelts about on many beats and possibly some later run fish, which have yet to spawn. As to methods, in settled conditions fishing by any method should be slow and deep with large lures to catch the elusive Tay Springer. Harling is also a favoured method in early season but be warned wrap up well or it will not be a pleasant experience.
Tackle recommendations for fishing the Tay throughout the season.
The Tay is a large river especially when running at a normal level and even in lower levels you are fishing another river within the mighty one so therefore a 15 foot fly rod for a 10 weight line is certainly minimum requirement for much of the season. Do not come under gunned. In some parts of the river where it is especially wide even longer rods are used. It should be noted however that it is better to cast a shorter controlled line than try to cast out with your capabilities and have the lines end up in a mess and decrease your chances.
In early season when the water is cold you need to cast larger flies and get them deeper in the water to fish them slowly. There is a tremendous choice on the market nowadays which can be quite confusing to many anglers. Any type of Skagit line that can easily cast a 15 foot sinking leader of various depths is a good choice especially to the less experienced. Iflights and a tip of choice attached are another good bet as these lines enable you to cast a longer line than normal with ease. For more experienced anglers, there are a vast array of shooting heads of different sinking abilities available as well. These tactics can be used in late season as well when the water starts to cool down.
Once the water temperature starts to climb by April then tactics change to mainly floating lines and sink tips with much smaller conventional flies. Again, the choice of lines is incredible from longer belly Spey lines to shooting heads. If you go to shooting heads, then it is important to choose a good shooting backing as line management can be a big issue casting longer lines on a river such as the Tay.
You should have a minimum of a 10 foot rod for casting baits of 20gm to 60gms.
A main line of 20 pounds in nylon or 30 pounds in braid. You should use a lesser poundage far a cast such as 15 pounds so if you get caught up on the bottom you do not lose a large part of your main line.
Tobies from 18gm u