Professional Scottish salmon fishing guide advice on the best times of the day to catch salmon during the fishing season.
This is really a great question with many variable answers so I'll elaborate on a couple of the obvious times of the day when salmon are likely to cooperate and take an angler's fly or lure. Let me start by firstly mentioning the early Spring optimal taking time of day when the riverbanks are likely still frozen and the air temperature isn't too far above zero before looking at the optimal hotter weather warmer water taking times.
The early Spring actually defies logic on many Scottish salmon beats that stop for lunch at 1pm which reduces the best part of the early Spring fishing day by 25%. The best salmon fishing time in the early low sun Spring months is between 11am and 3pm when the day is at its warmest when maximum early Spring sun warmth is present. A temperature increase of 1 or 2 degrees is big news to an early run Spring salmon even though it's bearly noticeable to the salmon anglers. As a former River Tay Head Ghillie I'd always promote a big breakfast to my guests and that we not break for lunch until 3pm during early Spring to increase the chances of catching a perfect early fresh run Spring salmon which often occurred between 1pm & 2pm when all other Tay beats were stood down for lunch.
Another obvious time for picking up a fish during the hot Summer months would be starting 1 hour prior to sunrize and fishing for an hour afterwards then coming back 2 hours before dusk and fishing into the fading light. This approach should mainly be deployed on those blistering hot low water bright Summer days (subject to the beat ghillie's permission) however never underestimate the salmon hooking ability of a small 'Silver Stoat' fished deep right in about bottom holding salmon even in the brightest of Summer days during anytime of the fishing day. The books say that low water conditions with bright light dictates a full floating line but logic dictates your fly should be down deep with a heavy sinking tip as salmon naturally seek the cooler deepest holding positions in such warm water bright light conditions and older resident salmon aren't likely to come up several feet for a fly. The books also say that salmon aren't cooperative in bright light but I've known the opposite to be true on too many ocassions however dawn & dusk are also good times during warmer water and bright light conditions.
Another less obvious daily salmon taking time is when you start listening to your inner gut feelings about your salmon fly, its swim pace & depth and where you suspect there to be salmon holding. This ability to listen to these subtle tactical thoughts and make adjustments is a really good salmon fishing skill to develop because if your sub-surface salmon fishing mind is fully engaged it will make most hours of the fishing day a potentially good one! Too many salmon anglers from what I've seen over the decades are far too easily put off by what appears as less than favourable water or weather conditions however I can assure you that a salmon take can occur at any time of the day and even in the worst conditions so stay focussed, tactically alert & persistent as these are some of the vital components for success in salmon fishing. Follow this link to Learn salmon fishing skills from a professional salmon fishing guide which will enhance your chances of catching salmon on the rivers of Scotland.