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Early Season dry fly action on Big Scottish Salmon Rivers

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Scotlands big 4 salmon rivers, The Tay, Tweed, Dee and river Spey are renowned for Atlantic salmon fishing. In March the spring run fish on these rivers are the ultimate prize, however at this time of year, salmon are not in abundance. If you hook and land a springer, bragging rights indeed, some say the ultimate accolade in salmon angling. These early salmon are pristine…and strong.

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A magnificent Scottish Atlantic Salmon, the ultimate prize.

The trout on these big rivers don’t give themselves up easily. Survival is their prime instinct and they are always cautious and easy to spook. There are occasions though when your changes as an angler increase. With trout, none more so than in April. Fish are keen to feed after the winter and gain condition. Big hatches of Olives come on and trigger heavy feeding. Sea trout and brown trout, kelts and salmon kelts have all been known to join in the spoils…it’s a bit of a frenzy!

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Salmon fishing the River Dee

Our fishing days are often complimented with cooked lunches and whilst meals are cooking I take 10 minutes out to make up a trout rod and a dry fly set up…just in case.

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A Viking Lunch

Why? This is because at this time of year in Scotland, we get tremendous rises of olive duns. I get tremendously excited when I see fish turning on the surface for dries anywhere, but none more so than a Scottish river.

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Dark Olive

Salmon fishing on the River Dee last week with 5 very good salmon anglers from Norway, members of the Norwegian Association of Hunters and Fishers.

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Salmon fishing the River Dee

We broke for lunch and when everyone was tucking into a hot beef bourgenon, I sat outside in the spring sunshine and watched the rise come on…as the first few olives appear so do the sporadic responses from the trout and a few rising fish here and there increase in frequency. I was watching a group of fish downstream of the hut on the south side of the river, shaded by big conifers. There looked to be some really big fish..

One fish in particular was easy to mark, he was 6ft from a rock on the shore. I jogged down armed with an Orvis Clearwater 4 weight 10ft rod, Lee Wulffe triangle taper fly line  and a 9ft 5X Orvis Mirage tapered leader and a cdc dry olive..

I got into position downstream of the fish, taking care to stay off the skyline and got down on my knees..it doesn’t matter how experienced you are at this, if your hearts not pumping with excitement…your dead! First cast was a wee bit short, next one wasn’t and the head rolled over on my dry and I was into a good fish, but not a brown trout. This was a long sea trout kelt of about 3lb and I hurried it in to avoid too much stress.

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Sea Trout Kelt

I had two small sea trout in the next few casts and then the guest came out to have a try. He had a few sea trout too and lost a good fish. It made a great interlude to the salmon hunting. It was great to see the River Dee bouncing with so many fish. Ive witnessed this on the Spey too, and last week on the Tay.

We were on the Tay at Lower Scone for a day with the Orvis Endorsed Guides, amongst the guides was Paul Proctor. Paul is a superb trout angler, one of the best Ive seen. He’s not interested in the slightest by salmon and we chatted about the trout on the Tay. He made up a Helios 5 weight and off he went, downstream in search of trout. I stayed in the hut preparing lunch for my fellow guides, but was hearing murmerings later that Paul had a couple of trout, a sea trout and a salmon kelt all on a size 14 dry fly…I went out with Paul in the afternoon and he hooked and lost a fish easily over 3lb a fine looking trout.

I’ll conclude this blog post with this thought…if your going to try to catch an early spring fish…do not leave home without a dry fly trout outfit – enjoy a short session trout fishing…have an early lunch and keep a window between 12-2pm (approx) you won’t regret it!