Country flags for UK, Spain, Germany, France, China and Italy Speedy Booker Partner Sites
  1. England
  2. Tamar
  3. When and where to fish

When to fish

Length of season

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.

Spring fishing

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.

Summer fishing

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.

Autumn fishing

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.

Where to fish

Where to Fish

The Tamar has a relatively gentle gradient in its upper reaches, quite unlike the classic river profile. Within a few miles of Lifton the river is joined by several tributaries, growing considerably in size and also increasing in gradient. This section, and the beats from here down to the tide offer the best salmon fishing.


Small numbers of early-season fish are confined to the tidal beats, but rapidly push well into the middle reaches by May. The main river can become very coloured on a spate, and this is when tributaries such as the Inny and Lyd can offer exciting, intimate salmon fishing for the angler using a single-handed rod. These are classic, moorland-fed spate rivers that rise and fall quickly, so it is essential to hit them at the right time.

Once the peak of a spate has passed, the entire system can fish well, with sea-liced fish possible on all of the lower and middle river beats.

Sea Trout

The large, early sea trout run hard, and are just as likely to be encountered high up on the tributaries as on the main river.

During the high-summer peak of the runs, the best of the Tamar's sea trout fishing is arguably on the middle river and, in particular, on tributaries such as the Lyd. Here, numbers of fish concentrate in the holding pools and, in normal summer low water, the night fly fisher can have some superb sport with relatively light tackle and fresh-run fish. Sea trout fishing can be very good throughout the main river, with fish also commonly caught during daylight due to the river's tendency to carry a little colour.

Spring salmon fishing on the Tamar

Brown Trout and Grayling

Brown trout fishing opens on 15th March, and the late Oliver Kite used to open his season on the Tamar and tributaries with the large dark olive hatches. The best fly hatches are a little later, starting with black gnats at the end of April and a small but significant mayfly hatch from mid-May. High summer trout fishing can be demanding, but the fish are always there, and wake up dramatically in September for a final feast of stoneflies, daddies and sedges. The Tamar system boasts the most westerly population of grayling in the country, and can offer sport after the trout fishing has closed at the end of September. Grayling numbers do not match the overload of the chalkstreams, and often winter spates can put the river out of order for long periods, so it is best to phone at short notice.

This website uses cookies. Click here to read our Privacy Policy.
If that’s okay with you, just keep browsing. CLOSE