Scotland has some of the finest salmon fishing rivers in Europe with over a hundred different rivers to choose from varying from some of the smallest and more intimate rivers to the wide and fast flowing waters such as the River Tay. All of which provide excellent opportunities for quality salmon fishing throughout most of Scotland. The salmon fishing season varies depending on the region but in the main it is from mid January until the end of October. There is no salmon fishing allowed on a Sunday in Scotland by law but you can still fish for trout or coarse species such as pike on a Sunday.
Some of the smaller rivers and tributaries of the main rivers can produce annual salmon catches almost as good as some of the top beats of the big four so for any anglers who prefer to fish on a smaller river this need not be a compromise in the quality of fishing albeit most of the smaller rivers are spate rivers and do need a certain amount of rainfall to allow the salmon to move up river.
Every river is divided into sections called a beat. A beat is determined by who owns the land on either side of the river. The landowners are known as riparian owners which means that they own the land or river bank that runs alongside the river and own the fishing rights (providing they haven't sold or leased out the rights). The size of a beat can be as small as a kilometer or up to 4 or 5 kilometers long depending on the size of the estate the river runs through.
Although there is no national rod licence required to fish in Scotland as there is in England you do need a permit to fish for salmon. Permits are issued on a daily basis by the individual beat owners and are bookable in advance. All beats issue a maximum number of daily permits which is usually restricted to 6 or 8 depending on the size of the beat. Permit prices vary quite considerably depending on the river, quality of the beat and the time of year. For the first six or seven months of the season permits can be from as little as £20.00 per day up to £75.00 per day. The main salmon runs traditionally start in early August and last right through to the end of the season in October so permit prices start to rise quite considerably from August onwards.
During the latter months of the season prices can be anything from £60.00 a day to in excess of £450.00 per day, again depending on the on the river and quality of beat. As a rule of thumb the higher the permit price the higher the annual catch rate will be on any given beat. You can still find relatively inexpensive salmon fishing on some of the smaller rivers or less productive beats of the major rivers for £30.00 to £60.00 per day. If you hire a professional guide he or she will be able to advise you on the best salmon fishing available at the time to suit your requirements and budget and should be able to secure permits for you. If you want to fish without a guide then permits are available online either direct from the beat website or from an online booking agency. Local tackle shops can also provide permits. On the main rivers availability for the top beats in the latter months of the season, August, September and October is very limited so booking early is always advisable.
All of the top salmon fishing beats will have a resident guide/s and a fishing lodge with tea, coffee and basic cooking facilities, a dining area and toilets. The lodges do not have bedrooms and are not used to provide accommodation. They are built for the comfort of the guests as a place to shelter in bad weather and a place to have lunch. The resident guide will meet guests first thing in the morning and show them where they will be fishing. The resident guide/ghillie is there to look after the beat and will generally provide advice To get the best out of your day it is advisable to hire a personal professional salmon fishing guide with experience of the river you will be fishing. A personal guide will look after you for the day, show you where the holding pools are and how best to fish them. He will also advise on tackle and tactics for the conditions on the day.