Professional Scottish salmon fishing career based advice on which salmon rivers are best to fish in Scotland.
This topic is not an easy one to answer as all Scottish salmon rivers have their moments and where last season on one river was poor for catches it could very well be prolific this year. There's also many other factors to take into consideration in wild Atlantic salmon fishing that are always relevent for catches such as water levels, actual fishing pressure (the only current stock measuring tool), the skill set of visiting salmon fishers, prior spawning numbers of adult fish (tracking back 3 to 5 years), in-river predation levels and the location of ocean coastal commercial fish farm enterprise in geographic location to the river's wild migrating juvenile salmon output. A few of the above topics are worthy of books being written and there's certainly enough content in any of these above topics for massive elaboration!
From a salmon fisher's point of view (for those who cannot move at short notice to coincide with recent rainfall levels) the bigger Scottish salmon rivers which have large loch-fed headwater catchments makes a sensible starting point as a huge loch-fed headwater catchment will provide a constant flow of river water which allow salmon to run the river at any point of the season and keeps resident salmon respondent. On a smaller Scottish river system salmon will not enter the river until a period of heavy rainfall has put the river in spate and until that time arrives salmon will stay and congregate in and around the river estuary. So my advice would be to firstly look for the bigger river that can sustain good water levels such as the River Tay which has the largest loch-fed headwater catchment of all of the Scottish salmon rivers.
Another point to consider on any Scottish river is when are that individual river's historic salmon runs expected throughout the fishing season. Some bigger rivers like the Tay will have salmon runs during the Spring, Summer & Autumn months yet smaller rivers may only have an Autumn run of fish. Fishing method consideration is also important as not everyone has the ability or desire to fly fish from the riverbanks all day. On the Tay fly fishing & spin fishing are allowed in addittion to a form of boat trolling called harling. So if tactical diversification is important then the Tay is a river where there are many different tactical fishing options.
My general assessment based on recent salmon fishing results is that the Tay is the safest bet for 'always fishable' good water levels from the Spring through to the Autumn months and has plenty of salmon present throught the Tay's long salmon fishing season. The middle River Spey is 'dynamic' in May & June and the Lower River Spey in July & August. The middle River Dee in April, May & June can be very good and the Upper River Dee in late August & September. Salmon however can be caught throughout each individual river's salmon fishing season. Follow this link for detailed information on how to find a professional salmon guide in Scotland who can give you a fishing advantage on any of these Scottish salmon rivers.