The River Tay

In the early cold months of the year Spring salmon enter the River Tay and most of these salmon are heading for the sanctuary of Loch Tay.

The bigger runs of Spring salmon enter the Tay from late February onwards when the water starts to warm a little to the end of June where fresh run salmon can be caught as far up the system as Loch Tay. The later spring salmon run which appears in April & May are predominantly heading for the River Tummel and anywhere downstream from the Tay and Tummel confluence is well worth a shot. In the summer months salmon fishing on the Tay can offer good sport and fresh run salmon can still be found throughout the system. Spectacular fly fishing water can be found on quite a few of the famous River Tay beats.

The lower Tay traditionally fishes very well in the Autumn through to mid October when the Tay closes and these later running fish can move up into the middle Tay salmon beats during this time given a good lift of fresh water. Permitted normal methods of fishing are fly fishing and occasionally spinning. Harling which is a type of trawling from a boat is permitted on the river and most salmon beats on the Tay have boats to conduct this type of fishing from. Popular Spring Tay salmon fishing flies are the Willie Gunn, Garry Dog and Black & Yellow and in the late Spring and Summer months flies such as the Ally’s shrimp, Stoats Tail, Black or Red Editor and Cascade fly patterns fish well especially the copper bodied variant.

In the autumn salmon flies with orange or red in them always do well and patterns like the Jock’s Shrimp, Red Editor, Black & Orange or orange or red Flamethrowers often produce results. The River Tay opens annually from 15 January through to the recently extended closing date of 31 October.

With global climates changing this extension to the Tay salmon fishing season was long overdue. Hopefully the management one day soon will address the early opening date of 15th January which 40 years ago was appropriate but in more recent times is most certainly not.

Many easily caught salmon kelts are present in the Tay at this time after the winter spawning season and these unseasonable salmon deserve the respect to be left alone and not interfered with by fishers. Catch & release has in recent years been introduced on the Tay and already there are signs that this is making an obvious difference to salmon stock levels.

The Tay in my opinion offers great salmon fishing in Scotland throughout most of the season and even when the river is at its lowest levels salmon can still run upstream due to its multiple loch fed water levels and general depth. The River Tay is the longest river in Scotland and has a catchment of over 2000 square miles. It is a river that frequently produces heavyweight salmon and is still home to the British rod caught record salmon of 64lbs. Due to the rivers sheer size and length access to its salmon beats usually isn't to difficult and of all the rivers in Scotland the Tay is my most favorite one.

Jock Monteith