Salmon fishing at this time of year can be very rewarding, though it is impossible to know what to expect. You may be in your shirt sleeves getting a late season tan on one day and wrapped up in your thermals whilst snow flurries whistle round your ears and the wind tries to push you of your feet. The river may be low and clear or a raging torrent of brown water and fallen trees. The successful late season angler will be one who adapts his tactics for what he finds and does not come with any preconceived ideas. Generally there is no need to rise particularly early as the best fishing will normally be between 11am and dusk. On occasion though, particularly if the water is very low and clear the early bird will get the best chance.
With regards to tackle it really depends where you are. On the upper reaches you can have good sport with a single hander; a heavy reservoir rod such as a 10’ 7/8# will be fine. On the middle and lower reaches the river is a bit bigger so a 13 or 14’ 9# would be better suited, although the now standard 15’ 10# double handed rod will be absolutely fine. On the Annan there is rarely any need for fast sinking full lines. The river is generally fairly shallow. A full floater with a selection of sink tips from intermediate to a fast sink will normally suffice, although it is well worth having a full intermediate line as well. What you use all depends upon what type of water you are confronted with. If you arrive and find that the water is fairly warm the fish will be running in the top half of the water and will be more inclined to move a distance to intercept a fly. If it is bitterly cold the fish will be hanging around the bottom and less inclined to move. What is also true is the eyes of a salmon are on the top of its head, if a fly passes deeply underneath it will it see it and intercept it? All of these ‘rules/tips’ should be broken if you are not catching fish!
With flies some patterns out fish others by a country mile so they must be better, mysteriously flies that worked well in the 80s do not. Are the fish following fashion or the anglers? Often there will be a bit of colour in the river at this time of year so the brighter flies will to do a better at this time of year with a mixture of red, orange, yellow and black in their wings. Remember though sometimes the water can be very clear, particularly after a frost and little rain so then a darker fly will work well. Size is subjective, in general the lower the water the smaller the fly but remember, if what you are doing has not worked it may be worth a change. One of the bugbears of late fishing is that leaves can get to be a pain in the neck. Leave the trebles in the box and instead use doubles or singles. They hook fish just as well, even with tubes.
Probably the most important thing that the most successful anglers do though is not changing the flies but changing the presentation. Don’t get into the habit of just casting at 45° and hoping for the best. Throw shorter casts, square casts and mend the line in different ways to make the fly work across the pool under tension at all times but with variation in its actual movement. Another tip is to pull the rod back and forwards in the hand, this will cause the fly to jump and flicker in the flow more effectively. All in all though the most important tip to successful late fishing is to keep fishing, the longer your fly is in the water the greater the likely hood that fish will take. Good luck and check out www.fishannan.co.uk to find fishing and more tips.
The salmon season goes on right through to 15th November (plus the licensed season extension to the 30th)