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.

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