Fishing Scotland's Big Four with Jock Monteith
Monteith Salmon Fishing Services is Scotland's leading salmon fishing guiding service and provider of salmon fishing holidays on all Scottish Salmon rivers including the River Tay, River Dee, River Spey and River Tweed. Jock Monteith and his team of carefully selected professional salmon fishing guides pride themselves on their high service levels and informative approach to Scottish Salmon fishing. Jock Monteith is a very well known professional Scottish salmon fishing guide, salmon habitat improvement pioneer, effective Speycasting instructor, salmon fishing television celebrity and Speycasting product designer.
The River Dee
The River Dee offers superb fly fishing water and has very healthy numbers of Spring salmon in it from opening in February.
The Dee which adhered to a then controversial catch & release policy some 15 years ago is now reaping the rewards for the foresight of its management team. The River Dee is one of the best spring salmon fisheries in the world and big numbers of spring salmon are landed each season.
Salmon numbers build up in the lower river until the water warms in late March & April which traditionally sees this large head of fish moving up through the middle Dee and sometimes as far up the system as the upper Dee beats. The River Dee salmon fishing season opens through to mid October and many Dee salmon can be found throughout the river system from July through to October. The River Dee is primarily a fly only river due to its magnificent and easily coverable glides and pools.
Popular Dee salmon flies such as the Sunray Shadow, Park Shrimp, Calvin Shrimp, Dee Monkey all do well in the early months and through the Summer patterns like the Dee Sheep, Cascade, Flamethrower, Puppy Dog and Stoats Tail all have their moments.
The River Dee opens on the 1st of February and closes on the 15th of October. The Dee is a highly scenic highland river and its water levels are fed by the melting snow from the Cairngorm Mountains through the early parts of the season as is the River Spey.
The River Spey
The River Spey can produce early Spring salmon in the lower beats near Fochabers at the start of the season when the water is cold but action usually starts to increase from mid March onwards when more spring salmon enter this world renowned Scottish salmon river.
The months of May, June, July, August & September traditionally produce the best salmon fishing in the lower and middle Spey beats and from June onwards salmon and sea trout can be found throughout the Spey system all the way up to its upper reaches near Loch Insh.
The Spey for the greater part is a fly only river however a few of the Spey beats will make an exception during very high water conditions and do permit spinning at this time. Many of the big name Spey beats are let by the week to regular clients.
Famous River Spey salmon fishing beats like Castle Grant near Grantown and The Brae Water near Fochabers among a few occasionally offer day rods throughout the prime months of the salmon fishing season. Popular Spey Spring fly patterns are the Black & Yellow, Gold Bodied Willie Gunn and patterns such as the Executioner Stoats Tail, Editor, Munro Killer, Ally’s Shrimp and Arndilly Fancy all do well from late Spring through to the Autumn.
The Spey opens its doors on the 11th of February and closes on the 30th of September each season. The River Spey is the fastest flowing river in the UK and it gathers speed from all its tributaries on its way to the Moray Firth. The Spey cast was born here and is now the predominant type of cast used on all Scottish salmon fishing rivers. Many salmon are returned each season on the Spey in order to protect future stock levels.
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 middle 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 Tweed
The River Tweed is one of the latest rivers to remain open in Scotland for salmon fishing. It does not close until the end of November each year and many of its famous beats produce huge salmon & sea trout catches during this time.
Tweed catches of late have been good and Spring salmon are caught on many of its beats from opening in February in the lower Tweed beats. Like the other rivers cold water keeps salmon at the lower end until usually somewhere in March when things start to warm a little then these fish will readily run up through most of the Tweed system. Spring & Summer salmon & sea trout fishing on the Tweed can be very good as many thousands of salmon & sea trout run this prolific river each season. Like the River Spey the River Tweed tends to be fly only with the exception of high water levels where some Tweed beats permit the use of a spinning rod. The Tweed can be very costly to access especially during late Autumn due to the huge numbers of fish present in the river.
The popular River Tweed salmon fly patterns are the Eternal Optimist, Comet, Junction Shrimp, Gold Bodied Willie Gunn, Posh Tosh, Sir Richard, Cascade, Stoats Tail, Akroyd, Green Highlander & Blue Elver. The River Tweed opens each season on the 1st of February and closes on the 30th of November. When most of the other Scottish rivers are into their closed season the Tweed is still open for business and always highly productive at this time of the salmon fishing season. Huge numbers of salmon are present in the Tweed in the autumn and early winter.