The River Tay

River Tay Salmon Fishing

The 'mighty' Tay is Scotland's longest river at 117 miles in length and it drains a massive 2000 square miles of Scotland. The Tay starts its majestic course high up on the slopes of Ben Lui in the far West of Scotland before eventually reaching the north sea at Dundee in the East. Several of it's main tributary rivers such as the rivers Tummel, Dochart, Lyon, Lochay, Earn, Isla & Almond are indeed as big in size as many other independent Scottish rivers. The Tay is without doubt the King of Scottish salmon rivers.

The River Tay salmon fishing season officially opens on the 15th of January each year and closes on October the 15th. Book Your Tay Salmon Fishing

River Tay Catch & Release

Several years ago the River Tay management decided to tighten up their 'Catch & Release' policy to increase salmon stock levels. The increasing runs of salmon that the Tay and its tributary rivers have been enjoying in recent seasons have without doubt been a bi-product of these sensible & globally accepted conservation measures. The effectiveness of this new conservation policy can only be measured after a 5 year period has lapsed and the Tay is now well past this initial 5 year incubation period which sets things up very well for future River Tay salmon stock levels.

Scotland's Largest Salmon Fishing River

The Tay is Scotland's most prominent and accessible salmon fishing river due to its sheer size and consistent loch fed water levels. Even during the lowest annual river levels fresh salmon still have enough water to run the river and even in full flood conditions the Tay is often still fishable due to the huge lochs that feed the river that act as settling tanks keeping flood water sedimentation levels to a minimum.

Being positioned in central Scotland the River Tay is logistically easy to get to from the major Scottish cities of Edinburgh & Glasgow which are about 1 hour away by car. In 1922 the British rod caught record salmon of 64lbs was landed on the famous Glendelvine Beat by lady fisher Miss Georgina Ballantine. In recent years 40lbs class Autumn salmon have been landed including one which was caught during October 2013 from the middle Tay which was estimated at 45lbs. Autumn salmon fishing on the Tay can produces huge salmon of this nature. I personally have no doubt that salmon of the 50lbs category and above still enter the River Tay system especially during late Autumn and often the carcasses of dead 'kelts' (salmon that have spawned) are found in early Spring that are clearly in this heavyweight River Tay salmon category.

River Tay Seasonal Salmon Runs

During the Spring & Summer months salmon are often landed in the 20lbs & 30lbs class and I'm sure it is only a matter of time until the 40lbs plus class of salmon re-establish themselves in the Tay during these earlier seasonal months. There is a  run of big Tay Spring salmon that head for Loch Tay & the River Tummel system during the earlier months of the River Tay salmon fishing season through to the month of June. Salmon of the 40lbs class were seen in early June 2013 in the viewing chamber of the Pitlochry dam's fishladder on the River Tummel which is a superb River Tay tributary river. Overall the River Tay produces typically between 8,000 & 10,000 rod caught salmon each season.

River Tay Fishing Season

The River Tay's opens on the 15th of January and a few fresh run Spring salmon are present at this time and though Febuary. Once March arrives things change dramatically as Spring salmon appear in greater numbers that are destined for Loch Tay & the Isla & Tummel river systems. March usually brings slightly increased river temperatures which encourage fresh Spring salmon to push on up the river and the prolific River Tummel & Isla tributaries and surrounding areas can be exceptionally good from March onwards throughout the rest of the Spring months. The late Spring & Summer months bring steady runs of salmon continually entering the Tay system and normally all salmon beats start to perform well from late Spring onwards & throughout the remainder of the Summer months. The Autumn months from August onwards sees large numbers of salmon starting to build up in the lower Tay and prolific catches of 20 salmon per day per beat are ocassionally recorded.  Autumn salmon fishing on some of the famous lower Tay salmon fishing beats can be exceptionally good. The middle and upper RiverTay salmon fishing beats can be very productive at this time too.

River Tay Fishing Methods

The River Tay salmon fishing methods are predominantly fly fishing with occasionally spinning & traditional boat fishing known as harling which is a form of trolling.

River Tay Fly Fishing Equipment

Fly fishing equipment for the River Tay is typically a 14-16ft ft double handed salmon fly rod with a floating line and a sink tip. In low Summer water conditions a full floating line with sink tip is still ideal for the Tay's deeper pools and in the early Spring an intermediate line or a longer heavier sink tip added to a floating line are both perfect.

River Tay Salmon Flies

Popular Spring salmon flies are the deadly Posh Tosh which is a modern day variant of the traditional Black & Yellow. The Cascade & Gold Bodied Willie Gunn also work well in the early months tied on copper tubes and moving onto single or double hooks with the same pattern for the late Spring months. Once mid May arrives going down to a small size 11's often gets results.  Other salmon fly patterns that do well on the Tay are the Ally's Shrimp, Sunray Shadow, Willie Gunn, Cascade, Orange Flamethrower, Copperass & the Stoat's tail to name but a few.

River Tay Fishing Equipment

Waders will studded boots are essential on the Tay so as to get a good grip of the riverbank and riverbed stones when wading as too are polaroid sunglasses  A wading stick is also very worthwhile to make wading easier & safer along with a life jacket just in case you should lose your footing.

River Tay Towns & Hotels

Many picturesque rural towns are situated in the River Tay valley such as Dunkeld, Pitlochry, Aberfeldy & Blairgowrie and the city of Perth is located where it's tidal estuary waters begin. Quality hotels and B&B's are in no shortage in the River Tay valley and most are located within easy travelling distances of the salmon fishing locations. Hotels can provide evening meals, breakfast & packed lunches and most are fully licensed for an evening post fishing malt whisky.

A Special Scottish Salmon River

Having caught my first salmon in 1970 at the age of 5 years old my own personal relationship with the River Tay has been special and has spanned decades as a ghillie (guide) looking after and providing quality introductions to River Tay salmon fishing for thousands of salmon fishers. Once you've fished the Tay don't be surprised if she lures you back annually such is her outstanding natural beauty & prowess.

River Tay Salmon Fishing Guides

To maximise your chances of catching salmon on the River Tay it is always advisable to hire the professional servives of an expert. Follow this link for detailed information on hiring a professional River Tay salmon fishing guide.


Jock Monteith Professional Scottish Salmon Fishing Guide & Provider
Professional Scottish Salmon Fishing Services Provider