Fishing in Scotland offers great variety of species. A step by step guide to each month and what species to target. Where in Scotland offer these the best fishing rivers and lochs.
This guide breaks down each month and suggests the best fishing available in Scotland.
Fishing in January in Scotland – What species to target?
The salmon season opens on the River Tay in January, however there are low numbers of migratory fish, running the river at this time of year. Grayling fishing is still prolific, and if you are brave enough to embrace the elements, and wrap up well, you can enjoy excellent sport. Which grayling river to target in January? The Tweed and Tay are my choice in January, when river levels are close to normal. If the big rivers are running high, then the Teviot, Annan and River Earn are all worthy options. Hatching insects are few and far between, so nymphing techniques are most effective.
Winter pike fishing is also a good winter option. Pike are less willing to chase lures and flies though, and the best sport can be had, fishing with dead baits.
Fishing in February, Scotland starts to warm up
The River Tweed and the Spey salmon season opens in February for salmon fishing, and die hard anglers go and search early spring salmon. Though they are not prolific in numbers, when you capture one of these fish, they are in prime condition. Bars of silver straight in from the sea, broad shouldered and hard fighting.
February is still in my opinion a great month for grayling fishing, and you can enjoy good sport as the fish feed heavily prior to spawning.
Fishing in Scotland in March – (start of the brown trout season)
The season for river wild brown trout in Scotland starts on March the 15th and is eagerly anticipated by everyone with a passion for river fishing. Scotland is beginning to warm up. Insect life is developing nicely. Hatches of March Browns and Olive duns are short and sweet. Often around the middle of the day, when the sun gets a chance to warm the temperature a few degrees, it often triggers a swatch. Occasional hatches of LDO’s (large dark olives) and March Browns can be seen. The trout are waking up and starting to feed a little more frequently.
In the last few years, it seems like the month of March is getting warmer and warmer, and so it’s worth targeting trout in the early season, as the bigger fish can be caught easier,. early season trout look to pack on weight and regain form after winter.
The best early season trout rivers in Scotland, are the River Tweed, River Annan, River Tay and Teviot.
Where to fish in Scotland in April – (Salmon and Trout spring fishing)
Spring salmon fishing, improves in April, as numbers start to increase. April also offers first class trout fishing, especially with the dry fly. A highly effective tactic would be to target salmon on one of the big 4 rivers in Scotland, but also take a trout rod,. You should be armed with a 9ft 5 weight rod, a floating line and a box of dry flies.
Often, in the middle part of the day, the river can explode with a hatch of dry fly activity. That’s when you put the salmon rod down, and try to catch some of the large trout that feed heavily during a fly hatch.
There are some excellent spring salmon to be had in April, and whilst they may not be prolific., if conditions are right. The sport can be excellent. The best rivers for these tactics, are the Tay, River Spey, Tweed and River Dee.
In addition to river fishing, the large ferox brown trout of Loch Awe, Loch Arkaig and Quioch are worth targeting. There are some true monsters of the deep here, and trolling articulated lures are often the most effective method.
Where to fish in Scotland – Month of May
The river temperatures are rising in Scotland. Warmer days bring on more frequent hatches of insect life and and trout fishing is at its best. May is the month when trout fishing starts to improve in the Highlands, Speyside, Inverness-shire and West Coast. If you lust after adventure, and are keen to hike to remote spots, the North of Scotland, is a huge playground for wild brown trout fishing.
The trout fishing on the River Don and River Deveron would be my choice in May. These two Highland rivers offer fantastic sport on the dry fly. Fishing wets and spiders, are also effective, before a hatch, whilst prospecting for fish.
The River Spey in May is also outstanding. This is a river much in demand, and you should try and look to book permits in advance, as often there is little availability. You can increase your chances by booking and entire beat for a week, as this makes it easier for the owners and reduces administration and risk.
Fishing in June in Scotland
As the trout fishing in the rivers in central Scotland starts to wane, the fishing in the Highlands starts to improve. Rivers and Lochs in the Highlands take a month longer to warm up than Central Scotland, and the Borders. If you enjoy fishing amidst stunning scenery, then head for the Highlands and the West Coast. There are some truly stunning scenic locations. If you consider there are over 30,000 lochs in Scotland, including Orkney, Shetland and the outer Isles, it opens up many options.
Sea trout fishing is also prolific in the month of June, the best fishing being in the early hours of the morning and in complete darkness.
If you would like to understand more about night fishing for sea trout, then read Hugh Falkus’s book on Sea Trout Fishing. A bible.
My favourite lochs to fish in June, are Loch eye, near Tain. The Limestone lochs of Caithness, and a selection of secret lochs we know if in the Highlands, that produce some very big wild trout.
If salmon fishing in Scotland is your focus, then the River Spey in June can offer the best fishing in Scotland. Permit availability is scarce, but if you have contacts, and knowledge of the beats, rods can be secured with forward planning.
Fishing in July in Scotland – Saltwater fishing and Summer Salmon
The temperature in the seas around Scotland are starting to warm up. This brings in an increase in bait fish, and with that, in turn, better fishing for predators.
Shore and boat fishing for pollack is excellent in Scotland in July and August. These hard fighting predators can be caught using lures, flies or fishing bait. Jig heads of between 15g and 25g are highly effective with soft rubber lures and grub tails. The most effective flies are closer minnow patterns, sparsely tied are best, as they tend to imitate sand eels. When bait fishing for Pollack, strips of mackerel float fished on a 2/0 hook is a highly productive ,method, also fishing king rag worm, either float fished, or with a jig head.
The best location in Scotland to fish from the boat in July is around the Mull of Galloway. There is such a wide variety of species to be caught here, as I understand, the boat we fish in have caught over 60 different species of fish, including:
Typical species of fish in Scotland (sea): Wrasse(4 different types), Pollack(Pollock), Coalfish, Ling, Haddock, Garfish, Spurdog, Skate, Gurnard, Tope, Mackerel, Sea Bass, Sea Trout, and Bull Huss.
Fishing in Scotland in August – What species of fish to target?
August arrives and offers new angling opportunities in Scotland. The Atlantic Salmon run is becoming prolific. You will get runs of Grilse. These are salmon that have sent one winter at sea and average 4-8lbbs in weight, as well as mature summer run salmon.
The Lower River Tay in August can be breathtaking. Some of our best days have been on the beats around Scone Palace. You can fly fish, spin cast or “Harl” for salmon on the Tay in August. Harling is from a boat, and involves trailing flies and lures behind the boat, and manoeuvring the boat over the lies of salmon.
These lower River Tay beats, fish better in lower water levels. Fly fishing is highly effective, using a double hand 14ft r 15ft spey rod, and floating or a slow 1.5 inch per second sink tip poly leader.
Fishing in Scotland in September – What’s the best species to target?
There are so many fishing opportunities in September. Trout fishing has a resurgence, as trout look to feed heavily prior to spawning. Trout also get aggressive and territorial and this can’t trigger feeding activity, when fishing attractor patterns of fly.
Grayling fishing starts to pick up in September.
Sea fishing is still prolific, as the sea holds a good temperature and head of bait fish.
Pike fishing is excellent, we tend to catch larger fish in September in the venues we fish. Pike will chase the fly and lure in warmer September days.
However if you were to single out a single species in Scotland to target in September, then it has to be the Salmon. The best rivers in September are the Tweed, The Tay, The River Dee and some of the smaller pate rivers in the South West of Scotland.
Salmon fishing in October in Scotland
Salmon fishing peaks in October on the River Tweed and Tay in October. There are huge volumes of fish running the rivers as well as a large head of fish that have run the system earlier in the season. The salmon start to display their spawning colours, and silver fish are rare. Sport can be fast and furious. October however is susceptible to weather variations and days are often lost due to spates.
The scenery on these river is spectacular. The autumnal colours and pleasant weather can make for some truly memorable days.
The technique in October calls for sinking polyleaders and heavier flies. Spin fishing is not permitted on the Tweed, however is allowed on the certain Tay beats.
Winter fishing in Scotland in November – Grayling
You can fish till the end of November on the River Tweed for salmon, although in my opinion this can disturb early spawning fish, unless you know where to avoid.
I would recommend grayling fishing in November and there are some truly excellent spots top target on the River Tweed Earn, Tay, and tributaries of these systems.
The techniques for catching grayling in November differs greatly from January and February. I’m not going to disclose my secrets on this blog, but can assure you we have some highly effective techniques for connecting with trophy grayling in November.
Fishing in Scotland in December
December offers two main species of fish in Scotland. Grayling and Pike.
The pike fishing in Scotland is on Stillwater lochs, and as fish are reluctant to chase anything, the most effective technique is fishing with dead baits and electronic bite alarms. It can be very relaxing sitting by the loch, with a dram, and some heat from a fire, waiting for the bite alarms to sound. It’s great to get out in December in the cold conditions and enjoy the diverse wildlife and scenery Scotland offers.
Grayling fishing is also excellent in December and not far away from as good as November. The problem you might encounter is that often the rivers are in spate. When they are fishable though, the sport is fantastic.