Sportfish brand ambassador, James Stokoe, looks at early season tactics on his beloved River Tyne.
With the opening of the salmon fishing season on the mighty River Tyne the internal flame has been rekindled and my attention is once again being drawn to the chase for silver.
The last two years have seen the Tyne produce an average yearly run of around 32,500 salmon and sea trout, counted through the fish pass at Riding Mill. The majority of these fish move through the system mid-season, from May to the end of October, but all is not lost for early season anglers as there are some highly productive lower system beats that can produce a few springers.
Bywell, the beat Sportfish use for their spring salmon fishing course, is an incredibly productive early beat and is situated on the main Tyne and runs for some 2.5 miles downstream from the fish pass. Colder water temperatures early in the season mean that fish don’t pass through until the water warms, holding them up and giving anglers a chance to hook them. The Bywell fishing is split into two beats comprising twelve main, named pools and it produces by far the most fish in February and March.
As we move into April and May, the water temperature rises and the fish start moving more, bringing other parts of the river in to play. The likes of the Warden beats, where the north and south Tyne meet and where I do most of my guiding, as well as Dilston on the main Tyne, can produce good numbers of springers for those willing to try.
The best tactic for spring fish on the Tyne has to be lines with fast sink tips, my preference being either a RIO floating shooting head line with a five or ten foot 5-7ips sink tip or the RIO VersiTip line, which comes supplied with integrated sink tips. With both lines I always use a short leader, approximately three feet in length, and my preferred leader material is 15lb Fulling Mill fluorocarbon.
As for what’s at the business end, I personally like to mix it up with colours and usually choose a bright fly in order to grab the fish’s attention. Patterns such as the Hot Head Cascade, Willie Gunn, Dee Monkey and Calvin Shrimp always get a swim early in the year. As for retrieves, I like to let the fly sink for a few seconds before using a slow figure-of-eight retrieve. I always aim to bring more life to the fly rather than just leaving it to swing round by itself.
I wish you all the best for your spring fishing on the Tyne, or whichever rivers you fish, and I hope you all hit the silver jackpot!