There is nothing better than an autumn salmon… As the end of the season quickly approaches, the leaves on the trees begin to change colour and the darker nights draw in. Not only a great time for salmon, but it makes for some stunning views over the river. None more so than when your favourite pool is holding a few fish after a good spate. It’s days like these that cause the confidence levels to soar and it’s at this time of year when, just sometimes, the fish can be equally as confident in taking our fly.
Getting the fly size right
Unlike the dry summer months when the water is low and the fish are reluctant to eat, choosing a fly to fish for autumn salmon is an easy decision for me. The choice is simple; it’s either a small Red Francis or a big Red Francis! If the small one doesn’t work then I’ll try larger ones until I figure out the size that they want. More often than not, the irresistible movement of a Francis fly will save a blank day. Snaelda salmon patterns often work, but I rarely stray far from the Francis fly box – preferring to stick to what I know. I find that a Red Francis dressed on a tube is most effective as I like to fish it deep and fast. This can provoke even the most fickle of fish into taking your fly and I’ve had great success over the years fishing this method.
Don’t ignore the smaller rivers…
As much as I enjoy autumn salmon fishing on bigger rivers such as the Dee and Spey, there is something special about fishing on smaller spate rivers. The River Stinchar over on the South West coast of Scotland is right up there with the best of them. Set in the heart of Robert Burns country, the Stinchar is a cracking river and is easily accessible for visiting anglers such as me. The fantastic Dalreoch beat offers the visiting angler 3 miles of double bank fishing and has a vast range of pools to suit all abilities. Covering these well-defined pools and knowing that the salmon are on the move can really get the juices flowing. The take from an autumn salmon can be ferocious and you just never know if that big, old cock fish which has been tormenting anglers all summer will now be willing to take.
Autumn Salmon on the first frost
The first frost of the season is usually a sign for the resident salmon to wake up from their slumber and these; often larger fish, become more inclined to take a fly. I prefer to use sinking lines and heavy poly leaders for a majority of my autumn salmon fishing as I’m a great believer that getting the fly down in front of the fish is a key factor at this time of year – check out my last blog post on this method here.
Fishing in this way requires a strong tippet material and the 20lb Fulling Mill Fluorocarbon is ideal. It’s strong and can turn over even the heaviest of tubes with ease. It’s also reassuring to know that my tackle on the business end is up to the job because you just never know when that fish of a lifetime might be about to take…