The Tamar has a relatively gentle gradient in its upper reaches, quite unlike the classic river profile. Within a few miles of Lifton the river is joined by several tributaries, growing considerably in size and also increasing in gradient. This section, and the beats from here down to the tide offer the best salmon fishing.
Small numbers of early-season fish are confined to the tidal beats, but rapidly push well into the middle reaches by May. The main river can become very coloured on a spate, and this is when tributaries such as the Inny and Lyd can offer exciting, intimate salmon fishing for the angler using a single-handed rod. These are classic, moorland-fed spate rivers that rise and fall quickly, so it is essential to hit them at the right time.
Once the peak of a spate has passed, the entire system can fish well, with sea-liced fish possible on all of the lower and middle river beats.
The large, early sea trout run hard, and are just as likely to be encountered high up on the tributaries as on the main river.
During the high-summer peak of the runs, the best of the Tamar's sea trout fishing is arguably on the middle river and, in particular, on tributaries such as the Lyd. Here, numbers of fish concentrate in the holding pools and, in normal summer low water, the night fly fisher can have some superb sport with relatively light tackle and fresh-run fish. Sea trout fishing can be very good throughout the main river, with fish also commonly caught during daylight due to the river's tendency to carry a little colour.
Spring salmon fishing on the lower Tamar
Brown Trout and Grayling
Brown trout fishing opens on 15th March, and the late Oliver Kite used to open his season on the Tamar and tributaries with the large dark olive hatches. The best fly hatches are a little later, starting with black gnats at the end of April and a small but significant mayfly hatch from mid-May. High summer trout fishing can be demanding, but the fish are always there, and wake up dramatically in September for a final feast of stoneflies, daddies and sedges.
The Tamar system boasts the most westerly population of grayling in the country, and can offer sport after the trout fishing has closed at the end of September. Grayling numbers do not match the overload of the chalkstreams, and often winter spates can put the river out of order for long periods, so it is best to phone at short notice.