Salmon Beat Terms & Conditions
By Jock Monteith 17th September 2019
If you're new to salmon fishing in Scotland it is imperative that you read a beat's Terms & Conditions thoroughly prior to booking your salmon fishing. These T &C's are in place for your own personal safety first and foremost and the enjoyment of your (& other guests) salmon fishing day.
Lifejackets And Why They Are Worn
An automatic life jacket is provided on salmon beats that take their Health & Safety policy seriously to basically save your life should you fall in or get bowled over while wading. There's no hidden agenda nor is this rule an attempt to inconvenience anyone's 'macho' image in any way. These are provided to minimise the possibility of the next inevitable salmon river tragedy and for no other reason than the hard fact that all shallow water flows into deep water. Is that such an alien concept for trying to keep your salmon fishers safe at all times!
Inexperienced Salmon Fishing Agents
Sadly most salmon fishing agents are completely 'clueless' on most aspects of salmon fishery management as non of their representatives have ever logistically run a salmon beat in their lives. The focus for most agents is all about revenue and not doing the right thing for the ghilllie, the visiting anglers or each individual salmon beat. It takes 2 seconds to remind all clients of the basics and that they should call the Head Ghillie 48 hours prior to confirm participation and if there's a possibility of a late arrival. Imagine turning up at a football match 1 hour late or better still the airport yet on a salmon river a ghillie is expected to put the entire days fishing operation & other guests on hold due to a late arriving salmon angler who cannot lift the phone or because an agent failed to advise effectively enough.
Arrive On The Salmon Beat On Time
I've personally been steeped in daily salmon beat operations for most of my life so I know exactly what I'm talking about on this subject but this isn't an 'easy osy' come and go as you wish type of business. A Head Ghillie needs to know where his guests are at all times as he is ultimately responsible for their safety. He also needs to work out a daily salmon pool rotation ideally based on the fishing preferences of each individual fishing guest so how can he do that if a guest is running late and has disrespected the fishery to a point that a 2 minute phone call is too much trouble. It's not just the management of the Scottish salmon rivers & agents that need to sharpen up their act but an element of the 'quick to put the boot in' Scottish salmon fishers too via completely unfair one sided agent feedback forms that hide their own riverbank misconduct yet also clearly defines that they never read the T&C's in the first instance.
Salmon Fishing Guest Behaviour
Now there's certain things that shouldn't have to be said or detailed in salmon beat Terms & Conditions as these types of misconduct are thankfully only ever an issue with a very 'rare' minority of salmon fishing guests however foul language in front of women or children who may be present or drinking alcohol 'excessively' on a riverbank is never a great idea nor is smoking illegal drugs. Salmon rivers are dangerous if not carefully treated with all senses 'fully' functional so stay sharp would be my advice for your own personal safety and for your fishing day enjoyment. Turning up on a salmon beat via 'permit only' access then expecting a personal guide or a free traditional boat on beats that charge separately for these services is never going to work either. As a professional ghillie I was often guilty of over extending too much where guests then rightfully expected everything for nothing so study carefully what you've purchased and tread cautiously if you arrive on any beat and then try to 'manipulate' that basic level entry point into a full or half day of free personally guided salmon fishing (or boat fishing) as no ghillie really likes to be put in the position where they have to say no to a fishing guest.
Effective Daily Salmon Beat Management
If an angler cannot fit in to the daily operations of a professionally run salmon beat or turn up with a reasonable attitude then they are best to stay away or go and inflict their ignorance on a beat that doesn't care about their fishing day operational standards as all this will do is bring down other salmon fishing guest's enjoyment through a misguided perception that the paying guest is always right! While in my professional career I've only even had to issue a red card to guests on very few occasions however the older I get the more I realise that's often the only way an inconsiderate fishing guest will learn to consider the Head Ghillie & the fishing day operation and respect the enjoyment of other fishing guests. For those who live stressful lives use the salmon river as a soul cleansing exercise and try to neutralise your thoughts en-route to the river. If you can manage that for that first 'adjustment' hour then the river with all her magnificent magic will certainly do the rest!