I have often thought of myself as more of a trout man that dabbles with salmon fishing. While I have been fortunate to have spent time guiding in Iceland, Norway and Russia, trout and saltwater fishing have been my primary focus over the past few years. A recent and lucky day on the tweed reminded me how enjoyable this salmon fishing business really is. I admit that it is far easier to lament about successful days than the days that you struggle on, but, had I caught nothing I don’t think I would have felt any different.
It is rather funny how addictive fishing for these nomadic wanderers can become. Over the past week many of my evenings have been spent at the vice strapping all manner of creations for both our chalkstream salmon and for the fish that return to our peatier waters further North. When fishing for salmon especially in the UK there is such a large element of the unknown. Are the fish there? Will they take? What depth? What speed? What fly? This doubt is part of the attraction. A sniff of your fly from one of these tourists brings both surprise and delight for there is always the uncertainty of not knowing how small or large the fish is or could have been. The most delicate and gentle of plucks can come from the largest of salmon.
Like a metronome your line unrolls once more as you cast then swing your way down the pool, this is truly relaxing fishing that allows you distance yourself from the toils of everyday life. When your line is in mid swing and a salmon takes, the feeling can hardly be bettered. The fingers that hold the line feel the tap, tap, tap, the taps increasingly gain pressure until the rod is bent and the reel is singing. One take from a salmon is rarely the same as the last, regardless of the size of the fish. Sometimes they take with a bang, sometimes soft and sometimes they even continue moving upriver, blissfully unaware of what is happening.
If you spend much of your time salmon fishing in the UK it is easy to forget that Atlantic salmon can be found in a wide range of environments and that not all salmon fishing is about searching water down and across. I was fortunate to have spent time guiding in Iceland and the style of fishing there opened my eyes to a different form of salmon fishing. Many of the rivers small and well featured and the water running blue and crystal clear. Often the fish could be seen before each cast was made, and to be rewarded a careful and thoughtful approach was needed. This kind of salmon fishing seemed to me a blend between trout and salmon, the best of both worlds. The technical nature of trout fishing combined with the size and power of Atlantic salmon. Often, small flies, long leaders and a stealthy approach were needed and my years as a trout fisherman helped massively. While I love catching salmon on the swing, catching them on the hitch is even better as the takes are so visual.
One day and a couple of fish from the Tweed started the salmon itch again and reminded me of some of the great days I have had in the past, especially fishing small and stealthy in Iceland. One day was not enough though, the itch needs to be scratched again.
For more details on salmon fishing destinations please do not hesitate to contact Peter McLeod or Charlotte Chilcott or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.