Fishing for Atlantic Salmon in Scotland

Fishing for Atlantic Salmon in Scotland

The Magic of Atlantic Salmon fishing in Scotland

There are very few places in the world where you can catch the famous Atlantic Salmon. Over the years, due to a variety of pressures, Atlantic Salmon stocks have been severely depleted. In spite of this, many of Europe’s northern rivers in Norway, Sweden, and of course the UK still enjoy a good run. They provide excellent fishing for Atlantic Salmon in Scotland.
The salmon is highly revered among sportfishing anglers. These magnificent fish have terrific fighting qualities. The great enigma about the salmon is that it actually does not feed in fresh water, so no one quite knows why it takes a fly or lure. This makes catching them all that more challenging.

For a long time, Scotland has seen one of the top destinations for salmon fishing in the world. Scotland has a unique blend of jaw droppingly beautiful scenery coupled with a great variety of salmon rivers. Indeed, there are so many salmon rivers in Scotland, that there is a river to suit almost every anglers taste. From the small Highland rivers in the north to the larger rivers of the central belt and Scottish Borders. Each river has its unique characteristics and offers the visiting angler a quite different challenge.

The Scottish salmon fishing season generally starts in February, but it depends on the individual river. There are a handful of rivers which open in January. From February through until the end of May anglers are fishing for spring salmon. These spring salmon are highly prized among salmon anglers. Catching one of these magnificent fish is truly an achievement. Salmon at this time of year are not plentiful but they are often big in size and extremely powerful. These fish truly test the angler as well as his or her tackle. Some of the fish caught at this time of year can weigh in excess of thirty pounds and so on light tackle can give a great account of themselves.

Fishing for Atlantic Salmon in Scotland


In April and May more and more salmon start to enter Scotland’s rivers and so catches become more consistent. At this time of year, the days start to get longer and usually the weather improves. Scotland truly is a fantastic place to be during the spring and catching a salmon makes it all the more sweeter. The rivers that are known for fishing well during the spring months include the River Dee, Tay and of course the world famous River Spey.

From June onwards, the runs of salmon entering Scotland’s rivers steadily increase. In June you can still catch late running spring salmon. Towards the end of the month the summer fish start to enter the river systems. These fish are usually a mixture of grilse (smaller one or two sea winter fish) and larger summer salmon. The runs of summer fish usually peak in late July and August but of course much depends on the weather. 

Believe it or not, Scotland can have very dry and hot summers. If this is the case and river levels are low many of the fish destined for the river systems may wait in the estuary until there is adequate water for them to run upstream. If you are lucky enough that your fishing trip to Scotland coincides with the first rains of the summer, you are usually in store for some fast and furious action. Of course, for this to happen you need to have the angling gods looking down on you!

September usually sees the start of autumn fish entering Scotland’s rivers. In recent years, the autumn run has not been as strong as it once was, but still good numbers of fish are caught in September and October and many of these can be fresh. Just like in the spring, the salmon that run the rivers at this time of year are quite large in size. In October often large numbers of fish are caught. This is because the rivers are usually at their most populated at this time of year. The salmon fishing season in Scotland draws to a close at the end of November but recently November has not been a particularly productive month.


In terms of tackle, fly fishing is the most commonly practiced method. Traditionally in Scotland we use double handed Spey rods. The length of these rods vary from thirteen to sixteen feet. On some of the smaller highland rivers often a good sturdy eight weight single handed trout rod can be ample. A number of rivers also allow spinning for salmon. It is better to check the regulations on the river you are intending to fish before travelling. Good lures for salmon include spoons and Rapala type lures.

Scotland truly is a magical place to chase Atlantic salmon, with its unspoiled remote scenery, wide variety of spectacular rivers and of course it’s most famous national product whisky. There is no better place to catch a hard fighting Atlantic Salmon and at the end of the day sitting back and relaxing on the river bank with a wee dram of your favourite Scotch whisky. Heaven!

This article was written by Samantha Datta who along with her husband is the Director of Salmon Fishing Holidays Scotland

About Ken McBroom 307 Articles
Ken McBroom is an accomplished outdoor writer and photographer. Growing up in Lynchburg Tennessee allowed him many opportunities afield as a boy and young man. Later in life, after Desert Storm, Ken’s wanderlust took him to Alaska to live and work and experience the last frontier. Married now with two beautiful children, Ken now calls Kentucky home where he continues to communicate our American outdoor traditions and the lifestyle it offers.

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