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A New Season on the Helmsdale 2018

Like most keen salmon anglers, I eagerly look forward to the start of the new fishing season. For me, fishing for Atlantic Salmon is unlike any other fishing, especially as ecological factors now influence our ability to accurately predict whether it may be a good season or not and unknowingly we might often be fishing an almost barren river. On the majority of rivers we just don’t know what to expect from one year to the next, and although it may sound like an old cliché, It really isn’t just about catching fish,  there is so much more to fishing.

helmsdale front

For the past several years I have ventured to the North coast of Scotland for the opening of the River Helmsdale on the 11th January. This is one of the first rivers to open in the UK therefore catching a salmon on opening day could result in it being the first salmon of the year, in the UK or possibly the world! The Helmsdale is a fairly exclusive river and the fishing is offered free for the first 10 days, thus enticing enough die-hard enthusiasts into the area not just for the honour of catching the first fish but also simply to say they have fished the river.

helmsdale back


Although we may be fishing for a Springer, this is still winter in the Highlands and the weather can change quickly, and often does, from gale force winds and rain, to snow and sleet or surprisingly it may even be sunny and dry. Modern equipment still makes it pleasurable as enough warm layers and a good breathable jacket will keep us comfortable and as long as your casting ability can cope with extreme winds and you possess a well balanced outfit this experience is one not to be missed.

helmsdale rainbow
Okay you may not catch a Springer, but you will probably catch a kelt or two, meet some new and interesting characters, possibly some world champions casters who will often attend, and later in the bar you can participate in a bit of highland dancing or singing along to ‘Jock the Box’ over a wee malt or two. If you are looking for something different that will leave some lasting memories then why not give it a go in 2019. 

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