Fishing in the Scottish Borders
The brown trout season on most beats is from 1st April to 30th September. Mid to late spring is usually the best time for trout, especially for the larger specimens which inhabit the Tweed and it’s tributaries. Spring and Summer evenings provide some great sport on the dry fly, but trout will readily take flies during the day too.
Although the dry fly is probably the most exciting method of pursuing brown trout, there are other methods depending on how the fish are feeding.
Grayling can be caught most of the year round but are best left alone from March to June so that they can spawn and recover in peace. Grayling fishing can be good in the Winter months if the weather and river conditions allow, with specimen sizes fish in most areas of the river and tributaries. Grayling to 40cm are not uncommon on the Tweed and grayling of up to 50cm are caught fairly regularly. Grayling of 45cm and over are regarded as specimen sized fish.
Grayling can be caught during the warmer months on a dry fly, but often the best methods are upstream nymphing or Czech nymphing. Both of these methods rely on getting the nymphs quickly to the river bed where grayling do most of their feeding. Nymphing is usually the best method during the colder months.
The Dry Fly
The dry fly is probably the most exciting way to fish for trout and grayling. The angler presents an imitation fly on the surface and when the fish comes for the fly you can actually see it being taken. It is hard to equal the sight of a hungry trout coming to the surface to engulf your delicate fly.
The dry fly works best during a feeding spell, or “rise” as it is known. Hatches of flies occur at different times of the day througout the season and these periods are when the dry fly comes into it’s own. From May onwards the trout will usually rise in the early to late evenings, sometimes after the sun has gone down and darkness approaches. Dusk rises can be fast and furious and choosing the correct pattern and size of fly will produce the best results. Trout and grayling can also be tempted to come up for a dry fly when there are few fish rising, but somtimes another method may be the best choice.
Your fishing guide will be familiar with the best flies and methods for the job and this can save valuable time which would otherwise be spent searching your fly box for the right fly. It can take years of experience to make the most of fishing dry flies for wild trout and grayling, so the advice of a fishing guide will dramatically increase your chances of catching.
If the trout are not rising it is still possible to tempt them with other methods. The nymphs are fished a bit deeper in the water column, from just sub surface down to the river bed . Fishing a nymph, particularly a weighted nymph, upstream will allow the fly to sink down to where the fish are. Even a trout (or grayling) which is not actively feeding will often take a nymph if it is presented right infront of it. The fish spend a lot of their time lying near the river bed where nymphs spend most of their lives and as nymphs make up a large portion of the trouts diet it makes sense to use this method when the conditions suit. This effectve method is sometimes easier for the novice as presenting the nymph in a natural manner is easier than presenting a dry fly naturally.
Spiders and Wet Flies
Trout will rise on and off almost all day long during the season but without an actual “rise” occuring. The spider or wet fly can work well in this instance. The spiders and wets are fished just subsurface and the trout will often come up to take it as they will be looking up in the water for food rather than on the river bed. Casting a spider to a rising fish can also be a highly effective method for both brown trout and grayling.
The Czech Nymph
The Czech nymph is primarily a method for catching grayling, especially when the water is cold during the Winter months. A heavy nymph is used in conjunction with two lighter ones. This enables the flies to sink very quickly down to where the fish are lying. A very short line is used enabling the angler to have better control of the flies. It is sometimes surprising how close you can get to the grayling without spooking them mainly. This method will also catch trout but would manly be used in the pursuit of grayling.