Scottish Salmon: The Ultimate River Findhorn Fishing Season Guide

Tail of Kennel pool on Mini Daltra at Glenferness Estate

Knowing the fishing season’s calendar is vital to a rewarding fishing experience on the River Findhorn. Each month, from mid-February to late September, offers a different opportunity for salmon and sea trout fishing. This guide unpacks the timeline of the River Findhorn fishing season, arming you with the knowledge to plan your visit for a catch-rich fishing adventure.

What You Need To Know

  • The River Findhorn fishing seasons extend from mid-February to late September, with prime salmon and sea trout fishing times varying throughout the seasons, and the highest chances of success occurring from mid-March/April and May, then from mid-June to late September. The 2024 season starts on the 11th of February.

  • A successful River Findhorn fishing trip requires familiarity with the river’s numerous fishing beats, understanding fish behaviour during the seasons, and mastery of appropriate fishing techniques and fly fishing gear.

  • Anglers on the River Findhorn are encouraged to practice conservation and etiquette, including catch and release, respecting beat rules, and booking permits in advance to preserve the river’s natural beauty and fish populations.

Unlocking the Seasons: Best Times for Salmon and Sea Trout on River Findhorn

A man is standing on a river with a fly rod in his hand.
Bridge pool on Drynachan, Cawdor Estate

The River Findhorn’s fishing seasons run from mid-February to the end of September. But, familiarising yourself with the seasonal patterns of salmon and sea trout can elevate your likelihood of a successful catch. Here are the seasonal patterns of fish in the River Findhorn:

  • February and March: Early opportunities to catch a large salmon

  • April to early June: Predominantly Spring salmon

  • Summer and autumn: Teeming with life, including Grlise and fresh Summer salmon, offers unique fishing opportunities each season.

The highest beats of the River Findhorn often boast the best salmon numbers in September, with grilse typically arriving by early July. During this period, ideal water temperatures from 42°F to 57°F motivate salmon to move upstream, actively increasing chances for a successful catch.

Spring Surge: Capitalising on Early Runs

Spring is a promising season for salmon fishing on the River Findhorn. The steady snowmelt from the Monadhliath Mountains generally keeps the River Findhorn at a favourable fishing level into May, softened by the melting snow that influences water temperatures. Salmon typically reach the middle Findhorn beats by April or early May, after awaiting the rise in water temperature to over 42°F to navigate past the thermal barrier at the Poolie Falls at Sluie.

Early-season catches on the River Findhorn are mainly multi-sea Winter salmon during April, May, and early June, before the onset of warmer temperatures and summer fishing conditions. Rapid increases in water levels during this period can result in a thrilling fishing environment. With the right timing, you could reel in a big spring catch!

As river temperatures rise in late spring and early summer, the River Findhorn becomes a vibrant hub of salmon and sea trout activity. These warmer months offer the optimal water temperature range for salmon activity, thus providing favourable fishing conditions. During this time, fish tend to move quickly through the lower, middle and upper beats of the River Findhorn, particularly during periods of high water.

Autumn Anticipation: Late Season Strategies

As the vibrant colours of Autumn paint the Findhorn Valley, the late season for salmon and sea trout fishing on the River Findhorn continues until the end of September. Dropping water temperatures can trigger salmon to begin their spawning runs, making it a suitable time for anglers to target them in the River Findhorn.

Patience and strategy are essential, whether angling from the bank or wading into the calm autumn waters. Monitor the water levels and temperature and adapt your tactics accordingly. The anticipation of a late-season catch can be as thrilling as the tug on the line when a fish takes the bait.

Mapping Your Journey: Navigating River Findhorn’s Fishing Beats

Single Spey cast off the left shoulder, Palamore pool on Altyre Estate.
Single Spey cast off the left shoulder, Palamore pool on Altyre Estate.

Just as every salmon angler has a favourite rod and fly, so do they have a preferred fishing beat. A salmon fishing beat is a stretch of a river designated for salmon fishing, managed to facilitate fish population control and fair angler access. The River Findhorn boasts numerous fishing beats, each offering diverse fishing experiences with various pools for different water heights and seasonality. Some of the most popular fishing beats on the River Findhorn include:

  • Altyre

  • Darnaway

  • Logie/Relugas

  • Glenferness

  • Lethen

  • Drynachan

For an optimal fishing trip, you must acquaint yourself with these beats and comprehend how to traverse them. Utilising a River Findhorn fishing beat map can aid anglers in identifying the prime fishing spots and understanding the river’s geographic lay to optimize trip planning.

Let’s explore the exclusive enclaves and popular spots in greater detail to help you better understand and navigate these beats.

Respecting the rules of each beat is crucial. This includes conduct rules like not cutting in above or below an angler already fishing from the opposite bank to manage angler interactions and avoid conflicts. These measures ensure a fair and enjoyable fishing experience for all. Remember, good fishing etiquette goes a long way in preserving the harmony of the river and the fishing community.

Beat by Beat: A Closer Look at Popular Spots

The River Findhorn is dotted with numerous fishing beats, each offering unique fishing opportunities. The Upper Home Beat at Darnaway is the lowest in the gorge on the Findhorn, including the famous Poolie Falls pool and is renowned as a favoured fishing location on the River Findhorn. This beat offers a good mixture of fishing conditions with 12 named pools, from swift runs to deep pools, providing exciting angler challenges.

Tackling Tactics: Techniques for Mastering River Findhorn

Mastering the River Findhorn requires more than just a keen eye and a steady hand. It’s about understanding the river, the fish, and the tools at your disposal. Fly fishing is the predominant method on the River Findhorn, especially on beats where only fly fishing is permitted. Your success in these waters dramatically depends on your ability to adapt to the river’s conditions and mastery of the right techniques.

For example, anglers should select smaller flies and lighter lines in case of low water conditions to enhance their odds of catching salmon. During high water levels, such as after storm fronts, it is advisable to use brighter and larger flies and heavier tackle to attract salmon. Now, let’s explore the art of Spey casting and strategies for adapting to the weather in more detail.

Spey Casting Mastery with Ian Neale

For those unfamiliar with the term, Spey casting is a specialised fly fishing technique designed for longer distances and limited backcasting space. It’s an art, and mastering it can significantly enhance your fishing experience on the River Findhorn and River Spey. When it comes to Spey casting, few can match the expertise of Ian Neale.

Ian Neale’s spey casting skills and teaching proficiency have been honed globally, with experience on rivers like the Ponoi in Russia and the Rio Grande in Argentina. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned angler, learning from a master like Ian can take your fishing game to the next level.

Adapting to the Elements: Gear and Technique Tips

Fishing on the River Findhorn requires you to adapt to the elements. Different water conditions call for other gear and techniques. For example, in low water conditions, you should use single-handed or switch rods, while longer double-handed rods are suitable when the river level rises.

Adapting your fishing tactics according to the spate nature of the river and prevalent weather conditions is also essential. This includes:

  • Employing the proper technique when playing and landing salmon

  • Focusing on managing the reel’s drag

  • Using the rod tip effectively to control the fish

Lastly, prioritise personal safety and fish welfare. Never fish alone, wear suitable safety gear, and adhere to catch-and-release practices for fish caught.

Preparing for Your Trip: Permits, Guides, and Accommodations

Two men sitting at a table eating breakfast.

Once you’ve familiarised yourself with the River Findhorn’s seasons, beats, and fishing techniques, it’s time to plan your trip. For those planning to fish on the River Findhorn Angling Association, it’s vital to obtain fishing permits in advance to prevent disappointment, as beats can be fully booked, particularly during peak fishing seasons. Timing your trip and booking your permits and accommodations well in advance is crucial, particularly during the peak fishing seasons on the River Findhorn.

But how do you ensure your beat, select a guide, and locate the perfect accommodation? Let’s examine these points.

Secure Your Spot: Booking Beats and Permits

Securing a fishing beat and permit is the first step in planning your River Findhorn adventure. Anglers can contact local estates or fishing beats directly to book fishing permits, which these entities manage. Additionally, online booking platforms like offer a convenient method for securing fishing days on various beats of the River Findhorn.

Various beats and permits can be booked through online portals that provide real-time availability and secure payment options, making it easier to plan your fishing trips. It’s also worth noting that beats on the River Findhorn change at midnight, so plan your fishing day accordingly. Remember that booking in advance can assist you in securing the best spots and prevent disappointment.

Guided Experience: Benefits of Booking with Ian Neale

For the uninitiated, guided salmon fishing involves anglers accompanied by knowledgeable guides who provide expertise and assistance during the fishing trip. One such expert guide is Ian Neale, who offers Spey casting tuition, guided salmon fishing, and fishing holidays on the River Findhorn, among other Scottish rivers.

Booking a guided fishing experience with Ian Neale provides expert advice on fishing techniques and invaluable insights about the River Findhorn’s environment and salmon migration patterns. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler, Ian’s local knowledge of the River Findhorn can greatly enhance your fishing experience.

Anglers can contact Ian Neale directly to arrange a guided fishing trip with him to inquire about availability and rates.

Rest and Relaxation: Staying Near the River

After a day of casting lines and reeling in fish, you’ll want a comfortable place to rest and recharge. Thankfully, several accommodation options are available near the River Findhorn, catering to different group sizes and preferences. From traditional self-catering cottages and lodges to pubs and hotels, you’ll find a range of lodging styles to ensure comfort after a day of fishing.

The Lethen Estate offers anglers convenient lodging options, including Dunearn Lodge and Dulsie Cottage, associated with specific fishing beats. Glenferness Estate offers the Stables and Wooden House also associated with specific fishing beats. Many accommodations near the River Findhorn provide amenities such as secure storage for fishing gear. Remember, the right accommodation can enhance your fishing trip by providing convenience, comfort, and a taste of the local culture.

Conservation and Etiquette: Preserving the Beauty of River Findhorn

As you begin your fishing journey on the River Findhorn, it’s vital to remember that the river is a shared resource, a habitat for a diverse array of wildlife, and a source of joy for many. Preserving its beauty and sustainability for future generations is a responsibility all who visit its banks share. Fishing etiquette on the River Findhorn, including minimising the time fishing a single pool and coordinating rod changes effectively, is critical for preserving the fishing experience and the river’s health.

Catch and release is highly encouraged on the River Findhorn, with all Findhorn beats mandating the release of all fish until mid-May and urging a high release rate thereafter to support fish population sustainability. Adopting barbless hooks and fly fishing, which is often mandatory across many beats, helps reduce harm to the fish, aligning with conservation principles. Remember, each angler contributes to preserving the River Findhorn’s natural beauty and abundant wildlife.

The Angler’s Almanac: Reviewing Recent Seasons

Understanding past fishing seasons on the River Findhorn offers valuable insights that can guide your fishing strategies. The River Findhorn has historically been a productive salmon river with fluctuating catches. Here are some critical points about past fishing seasons on the River Findhorn:

  • Recent seasons have seen between 1500 and 2500 salmon

These insights can help you make informed decisions when planning your fishing trips on the River Findhorn.

External factors such as COVID-19 restrictions have also impacted the fishing seasons, with information not available for early spring fishing due to the pandemic. Despite these challenges, catch and release trends are strong, with 95% of the total rod catch released in 2021, including 99% of rod-caught spring salmon. These trends emphasise the resilience of the River Findhorn’s salmon population and the dedication of anglers to sustainable fishing practices.

Capturing Memories: Photo Opportunities and Scenic Spots

Besides the excitement of the catch, fishing on the River Findhorn offers many photographic opportunities and scenic spots that will make your trip unforgettable. Some of the stunning landscapes, historic landmarks, coastal scenes, and picturesque landscapes you can capture include:

  • The majestic Findhorn Viaduct

  • The beautiful Findhorn Bay

  • The charming fishing villages along the coast

  • The rugged cliffs and sandy beaches

  • The tranquil forests and meadows

Within a few miles, these locations provide a wealth of magnificent scenery and stunning scenery for your beautiful backdrops and photos.

From the ruins of Urquhart Castle near Inverness and the mystical Loch Ness, to the serene landscapes of Cairngorms National Park, the River Findhorn region is a photographer’s paradise. Some highlights include:

  • Urquhart Castle

  • Loch Ness

  • Cairngorms National Park

  • The River Findhorn

  • Moray Firth, especially near the village of Hopeman

Wildlife photography enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities to photograph sea life at the Moray Firth.

Whether you capture the thrill of a catch, the tranquility of the river at dawn, or the vibrant hues of autumn foliage, each photo will be a cherished memory of your River Findhorn adventure.


Fishing on the River Findhorn offers more than just the thrill of the catch; it’s a journey into the heart of Scotland’s natural beauty, a dance with the river’s rhythms, and a communion with the noble salmon and sea trout that call these waters home. Whether you’re casting your line in the cool waters of spring, summer’s warm currents, or autumn’s crisp flows, each season offers unique opportunities and challenges.

But remember, fishing is not just about the fish you catch but the memories you make, the skills you learn, and the connections you form with nature. And as you pack your gear, plan your trip, and step into the waters of the River Findhorn, you’re not just an angler – you’re a steward tasked with preserving the river’s natural beauty and abundant wildlife for future generations. So, are you ready to embark on your River Findhorn adventure?

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you fish all year round in Scotland?

Yes, you can fish all year round in Scotland, as there is no closed season for coarse fishing, sea angling, and rainbow trout fishing.

Is it illegal to fish on a Sunday in Scotland?

Fishing for salmon and sea trout on a Sunday in Scotland is strictly prohibited. However, other forms of fishing are generally not illegal, and most still-water fisheries operate on Sundays. Fishing for brown trout on a Sunday is legal but may be frowned upon in some areas.

Is there a season for rainbow trout in Scotland?

Scotland has no closed season for rainbow trout fishing, so it is available all year round.

Is river fishing free in Scotland?

No, river fishing in Scotland is not free. It is illegal to fish for any species without the owners’ permission, and fishing rights are tied to the ownership of the river or loch bank. Therefore, one must own the land to have the fishing rights.

What is the best time to fish for salmon on the River Findhorn?

The best time to fish for salmon on the River Findhorn is from mid-March to late September, the prime period for fly-fishing. So, plan your fishing trip accordingly.

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