The salmon season on the Tay and tributaries commences on 15 January, the first of the large Scottish rivers to open, and closes on 15 October. Fresh salmon enter the Tay every day of the year and so may be caught all season through. On the River Earn which is more dependent on autumn salmon, the season commences on 1 February and goes on to 31 October. Fishing is available from Monday to Saturday, there being no Sunday fishing in
Salmon enter the River Tay even before the season opens and a fresh 'springer' may be caught anywhere in the main stem of the Tay right from opening day or even by boat fishing on Loch Tay. Most anglers spin at this time and early season fishing has an adventurous feel about it! However, the early springers are the most beautiful and prized of fish making all the effort worthwhile. As recent as the year 2000, a salmon of 27.5lbs was
caught on Loch Tay on opening day. Salmon numbers increase as the spring progresses and by April fly fishing accounts for many fish and tributaries like the Isla/Ericht and Tummel also share the good catches.
High summer on Cargill - the Tay fishes in all seasons
The number of fish entering the Tay increases markedly in the summer. In
addition to runs of summer salmon, grilse runs build up in June and usually
reach peak numbers in July.
Because of hydro power stations the Tay never suffers from summer drought conditions as do many other Scottish rivers and so grilse can always run the river and also enter the major tributaries like the Isla, Ericht, Tummel, Lyon and Dochart. Some of the best fly fishing is to be had in the summer with lower water levels allowing lies to be reached which otherwise can only be covered by boat. Hooking fish on a long line way out in the Tay while wading deep is an exhillarating prospect which few other rivers can offer. While the angling athlete can find ample challenge on the Tay such is the range of fishing available that people of all physical abilities will find something to suit them.
Big runs of fresh fish enter the Tay and also the River Earn in the late summer and autumn. Most fish are grilse of around 6-10lbs or salmon of about 15-20lbs, with a prospect of fish up to 30lbs. Unlike the spring and summer runs these fish are not going to spawn in the highland tributaries but accumulate in the main stem of the Tay and its lower tributaries like the Isla, Earn and Almond offering excellent fishing opportunities. The biggest catches of the season are taken then, especially in the lower Tay. More and more in recent years fresh run sea-liced fish are being caught right up to the end of the season and indeed continue running after it. On many beats the fly still does well in autumn but with rising water levels the sheer scale of the Tay means that most anglers find spinning a necessity.