Where to Fish for Salmon in Scotland


Scottish salmon fishing has something to offer all tastes, whether it be the challenge of covering the width of our large rivers in Spring or Autumn with a long double hander, perhaps on the River Tay, Tweed, Ness or Lower Spey; catching a highland river on a falling spate, rock-hopping from pool to pool in the hope of connecting with a fresh run grilse on a single handed rod; or casting for a late summer salmon, or maybe a sea trout, from a drifting boat on the wild lochs of the Hebrides. For those planning a salmon fishing trip to Scotland, this website will provide information about the salmon fishing available throughout Scotland, with links to maps of the major Scottish salmon rivers in the north, central and south areas and the salmon lochs and rivers on the Scottish Islands. 

Salmon Fishing in the North of Scotland

In The North we will examine the potential of beautiful little salmon spate rivers like the Sheil, Croe, Naver, Thurso, Dionard, Halladale, Brora, Helmsdale, Inver and Kirkaig, to name but a few, where success often depends as much on timing as anything, catching these wild rain dependent streams just at the right time on a falling spate after a spell of summer rain or the larger, more predictable hydro-modified rivers running eastwards to the North Sea, like the Conon and Beauly.

Salmon Fishing in the South of Scotland

In The South of Scotland the salmon angler has a good variety of fishing to consider. There is the fourth of the big four Scottish salmon fishing rivers, the River Tweed, with opportunities from February right through until the end of November, the smaller, more intimate Ayrshire rivers, e.g. Doon and Stinchar, which need a bit of rain to give of their best, and those salmon and sea trout rivers which empty into the Solway Firth, i.e. the Cree, Urr, Nith, Annan and Border Esk, all capable of giving great sport on their day.

Salmon Fishing in Central Scotland

In Central Scotland (For the purpose of this site I have defined Central Scotland as the area south of the Great Glen and north of the Southern Uplands) too offers a variety of salmon fishing on rivers, large and small, including some of the most famous salmon rivers in the world in the Spey, Dee and Tay. Their are also medium sized rivers like the Findhorn, Deveron, Don, North and South Esk, Earn and Teith and smaller streams like the Allan, Ugie, Lossie and Nairn 

Salmon Fishing on the Scottish Islands

Finally, we will take a look at the salmon fishing available on the wild lochs and rivers of the The Scottish Islandssuch as Skye, Mull, North and South Uist, Lewis and Harris, where salmon and sea trout make their way through short streams into the many Island lochs after a bit of rain to offer the angler great sport from a drifting boat to the wet fly or a dapped dry fly in a good wind.

Salmon Fishing in Scotland – A Guide to Scottish Salmon Rivers

Mark Straughen and his 9/10lb fish
Scotland has long been renowned for its salmon fishing on some of the most famous salmon rivers in the world. The Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar, run most Scottish rivers of any size, making their way from the marine feeding grounds in the North Atlantic into Scotland’s rivers and upstream to reach the spawning redds by late autumn, covering distances of hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles, often against the odds, through strong flows, rough rapids and barely surmountable waterfalls in the process, hence its Latin name Salar, the “leaper”. 

Fishing Season

The salmon runs in Scotland, i.e. the times in the year when salmon enter Scotland’s rivers from the sea, occur at different times in different rivers, offering varied opportunities for the salmon fisherman throughout the salmon fishing season, which generally runs from January until November, with local variations in the permitted fishing season. Some Scottish rivers begin their fishing season as early as mid January, while most have started by mid February. Some salmon rivers, for example the River Spey, close at the end of September, while others, e.g. the River Tweed, carry on fishing until the end of November. The majority of Scotland’s salmon fishing rivers are open until the end of October.

Scottish Salmon River

Scotland offers the visiting salmon angler a good choice of fishing, on rivers of varying character and size, most offering excellent fly fishing water at varying times of the season. Many rivers in the east and north of Scotland will have newly run salmon present from the beginning of the season in January or February, offering the chance of sport to those hardy anglers who care to cast a fly in what is euphemistically termed “Spring Fishing” conditions! Others, like the Spey and  Aberdeenshire Dee, will have worthwhile Spring  salmon runs through March, April and May, offering the prospect to those anglers fortunate enough to be on the best beats at this time the prospect of that most highly prized of all fish, a Spring Salmon, or “Springer”. Many of Scotland’s smaller rivers will rely on summer rain to bring salmon in from the sea, while others may have to wait till September or October for the main salmon run.

Wykeham Pheasant & Partridge Shoot in Yorkshire

Spectacular pheasant shooting over three steep wooded valleys and open grass dales

Pheasant shooting in Yorkshire

The Wykeham shoot offers a wide variety of partridge and pheasant shooting. Partridges are driven across the rolling countryside lying on the southern fringes of the North York Moors and leading down to the Parkland surrounding Wykeham Abbey. “Traditional” pheasant shooting takes place over the more traditional arable and grassland and wooded dales, or spectacular “High Bird” pheasant shooting over three steep wooded valleys: Bedale, Yedmandale and Sawdondale, the latter described by one team of guns as “an island of Devon shooting in Yorkshire!”

Bags vary between 175 – 200 birds for the partridge and ‘Traditional’ pheasant shooting and 200-300 birds for the High Bird pheasants. Prices start at around £35 per bird (inclusive) and peak at £43 per bird (inclusive) for the High Birds. The quoted prices are inclusive of VAT and hospitality and are fixed for the day with no additional charge for overages.

The arrival of the guns commences with a drive through the Park leading up to the magnificence of Wykeham Abbey, the Dawnay family home. Introductions to the keepers and host take place at the “Old Kitchen”, Wykeham Abbey. The host will explain the procedures for the day and carry out the draw. There is a mid morning drink and snack out in the field followed by lunch (with a choice of menus) in the “Old Kitchen” either at lunchtime or, if preferred, at the end of the day’s shooting.

A small number of boundary or outside days take place each year with bag estimates of between 80 and 100 birds.

James Purdey & Sons Limited – English Gunmakers since 1816

James Purdey & Sons Limited is considered one of the top makers, if not the top maker, of fine sporting guns and rifles in the world.

Its reputation for excellence was set soon after James Purdey established the business in London in 1816, and it quickly became the gunmaker of choice for gentry and royalty. From 1868 on, the company has been granted Royal Warrants of Appointment from members of the British monarchy, a prestigious honor allowing a manufacturer to advertise royal patronage.

Purdey guns are bespoke, meaning they are crafted to fit the shooter. The firm makes only about 75 guns per year, most of them shotguns used in hunting or target shooting, though some buyers are collectors and therefore never shoot them.

It can take as many as 750 man-hours to handcraft a Purdey gun (and from 18 to 24 months of actual time on the calendar), which serves to justify the hefty prices, from GBP34,000 to well over GBP100,000 for a single gun, depending on whether a customer wants any elaborate engraving on the metalwork or other features that can add tens of thousands of dollars to the price.

At the company’s factory, about 35 workers, all of them men, ply their trade largely using hand tools, each craftsman handling one section of the gun—the barrel, the action, or the stock. Purdey also draws on a pool of highly skilled, independent engravers.

In its entire history of nearly 200 years, James Purdey & Sons has made only a little more than 30,000 guns, each one individually numbered.

The company was owned by the Purdey family until 1946, when the Seely family acquired it. In 1994 it was acquired by Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, a global luxury goods company based in Switzerland that owns many other famed brands, including Cartier jewelry, Piaget watches, Montblanc writing instruments, and Alfred Dunhill leather goods, menswear, and accessories.* (*encyclopedia.com)