(Last updated: Monday 19th March)
The Salmon fishing season is now in late March on the mighty Tay in Perthshire, Scotland. We have been encountering some varied conditions with cold wintery weather over the last week and prior to the Opening. This has again unsettled the lower river from last Friday with melting snow but it is settling nicely now back to lower levels and excellent conditions. The coming week is slightly milder. This may give us some more water from melting snow but hopefully not colour the water especially on the lower river again. Currently the colder weather will continue to give us more settled water and a chance of good fishing. On the opening months several anglers braved the elements in pursuit of that magical spring salmon. The cold weather hopefully will give 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.
Currently the river is running much lower at Caputh but clear on the middle river (just over 1'6) and settling nicely and clearing on the lower river (just over 3') on the Ballathie gauge but may rise further with the milder temperatures.
The weather is to remain reasonably settled over the next week with higher pressure dominating until Thursday with a chance of some rain towards the weekend. There will be frosts at night early in the week and 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 is cold at around 38 degrees Fahrenheit or 3 degrees Celsius. 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 upwards. Toby Salmos are very popular in 30gms. Conventional weighted Devon's are good especially in the Spring. Rapalas and Vision 110's are very effective and of course Kynochs are popular for harling.
What flies should I take?
In early season bigger flies such as Tube Flies, Temple Dogs and Monkey type flies up to 2 inches in body length and larger conventional patterns in 4's and 6's in lower water are required. A point of note is that a lighter Tube such as an aluminium or plastic body is far easier to cast than brass. Current line technology