Sportfish Tuition Manager and seasoned salmon angler, Tom Festing, takes a look at the most exciting time in the salmon angling calendar – spring!
For me, and I imagine for all of us, the real lure of fishing for spring salmon is in the anticipation and the uncertainty, the not knowing what you might, or might not, come across; it really is all about dusting off the cobwebs and looking forward to what the fly fishing season ahead might hold.
There is the excitement of the familiar as you get to fish your favourite beats again for the first time in the season, but tinged with a little uncertainty as you see how your favourite pools now look with different water conditions, pools may well have changed markedly with winter flooding so there is the excitement of getting to know them again. And, of course, if you are starting on a new beat there is the excitement of stepping into the real unknown, starting a whole new chapter in your salmon fishing career.
Of course there is also the excitement of the social element of salmon fishing, getting to see old friends and ghillies again and of course there is the thrill of pulling your waders on again and getting to grips with any new gear or flies, just how will those patterns you may have been working on all winter actually perform?
Spring salmon are precious and all-too-rare creatures so above all there is the massive anticipation of not knowing what the first take is – that heart-stopping moment we all long for – is it a prized springer? This time of year is all about starting over and in my opinion a spring fish is worth more than a summer fish so make sure you do all you can to connect with one. In that respect I hope my top tips can help.
Tom’s Top Tips for Spring Salmon Fishing
- First off remember that you will fish most effectively and enjoy your day more if you are dressed properly.
• Make sure your waders aren’t leaking and check and replace studs if necessary
• Make sure you have a good wading staff with a rubber bung to avoid unnecessary noise
• Ensure your life vest has been checked and serviced
• Make sure you have comfortable, warm and waterproof clothing
- Look at the weather forecast and study the catch returns before deciding what river to fish and always liaise with the ghillies, they know the water and how it responds in differing conditions better than anyone.
- When you are on the river make sure that you fish at the correct time of day. To maximize your chances you must ensure you are fishing during the period of highest air temperature, at this time of year that is often lunchtime into early afternoon – so leave those long lunches until the height of summer!
- Listen to the ghillies, you don’t know where the lies are – they do. Don’t start wading until you have their information, even if it is a river you know well it may have changed since you last visited – and there could well be fish under your feet!
- Have an understanding of the water temperature, generally speaking the colder it is the deeper you should fish.
- Concentrate on the tails of the pools for fish resting up before moving through.
- Choose salmon flies that have movement in them. The Scandinavians fish long-winged flies in cold conditions and they catch a lot of fish – so copy them.
- Don’t get bogged down fishing slowly through your favourite pool. You are hunting for fish rather than knowing where they are so fish quickly, cover a lot of water, re-visit areas and search out all of the likely spring lies.
- Finally, whether you are a salmon fishing newcomer, and improver or an old hand it always pays to take advantage of some tuition. No matter how good your casting ability you can always learn new techniques and iron out any problems and at £149 per day the two-day casting clinic on the River Towy is one not to be missed. It could well make the difference between you landing that big springer this season, or not…
Do you have a question, comment or want to share some advice of your own? Then leave your thoughts below in the comments area! It’s good to share.