Spring Fishing at Glen Tanar

19th February 2020

The spring fishing season started well with Lower Dee beats producing 12 salmon on opening day! Further up the Dee at Glen Tanar we cannot wait for our opening day on the 1st of March. So much so that we asked Craig our Waterside & Ferrar ghillie some questions to help you catch a prized Dee springer this spring fishing season!

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Craig Mcdonald fishing on Waterside & Ferrar

How do the cold-water temperatures affect spring fishing?

“The cold-water temperatures in the spring will generally mean that the fish will be more lethargic … and less likely to chase a fly through the water. You want to present the fly to the fish as close possible. Therefore, I use sink tips and heavier lines and flies to try and present the fly deep in the pools, as close to the fish as possible.”

Craig McDonald

Anything specific we should look out for this spring?

“Kelts!... Kelts are salmon which have spawned the previous winter and can usually be caught early in the season. They can be confused with a fresh spring salmon due to their silvery appearance. However, they are generally much thinner than a fresh fish … and the presence of gill maggots will confirm whether they are. Kelts should be treated carefully and returned to the river as quick as possible.“

Image: Scottish Salmon Guide

What is your Fly of choice for spring fishing?

“My favourite spring flies are the classic black and yellow fly and the willie gunn. My monkey fly has also become increasingly successful over the last few years. I commonly fish tubes at this time of year. My brass or aluminium tubes between half inch / an inch and a half in length seem to work best.”

What gear do you fish with in the spring months?

“My longer 14-15ft rod is more suitable for fishing at this time of year. Combined with heavier lines and flies I see good results. Shooting headlines are quite popular in the spring, they make casting sinking lines easier work and allow for quick changeover. With my heavy tube flies that I like to run in the spring I use a stronger leader. 15lb+ should do the trick in shorter lengths 4-6 ft to help turn over my heavy tube flies during casting.”

Selection of spring flys

How is Waterside & Ferrar looking ahead of the 2020 spring season?

“The beat has been very lightly fished in early spring over the last several years. This has led to low catch returns, as the saying goes if your fly is not in the water you won’t catch fish! The waterside pool is a classic ‘holding’ pool with a good deep channel to slow down springers making their way upstream. Waterside is a good bet for finding an early fish this spring season, one of our ghillies favourites!”

Spring salmon caught on Waterside & Ferrar