Salmon Fishing Facts
By Jock Monteith 6th March 2021
It's always a great moment when you arrive at any salmon beat in the morning whether you're a guest or a professional ghillie and far superior than checking into an office unless of course the fishing hut is your office!
Life On The Salmon River
They say 'life is for living' and that it's no dress rehearsal so personally it was always only ever a basic IQ test to devote my career to the salmon river which was a decision made early in life. The natural beauty and vibe of the river is certainly addictive but so also is the 'banter' of brilliant riverbank relationships that form out of the thousands of salmon fishers most ghillies will meet throughout their professional careers. The salmon fishing pursuit has multiple attractions aside from the inevitability of enough thoughtful casts!
The Scottish Ghillie Career Choice
Taking the river path in life is a brave path indeed given the 'unpredictability' of Atlantic salmon and their often total defiance of our timing keeping measurement tools. The ever changing ocean temperatures and Winter flood levels have always played a role in the returning abundance of the species making it an even bigger challenge for success on years where there's apparently fewer fish about. On the river these days unchecked predation issues that once never existed have also hindered progress so the professional ghillie has a different set of issues to mentally overcome just the same as most other career paths will have.
Keeping Faith In Salmon Runs
While it was easy to write off the recent 2018 season in it's entirety due to a poor Spring run where only big but fewer salmon showed up our salmon yet again mysteriously appeared as soon as the water and lower temperatures eventually arrived in late August. The lack of salmon action that year was primarily due to warm weather and low water and nothing much else. My advice is to just get over any lean times you experience as salmon do what suits them best and if effective stock enhancement measures are ever to be introduced to bolster wild stock levels it will likely take time as we currently have zero juvenile stock output measurement control and an accompanying lack of oceanic security required to effectively safeguard our salmon's 'known' migration routes to and from their feeding grounds where salmon can easily be commercially exploited. There has also been a general lack of 'in-river' predation control which only a few decades ago did not exist although I hear some rivers have made some good progress on that front in the last couple of years.
Vague Catch Statistic Information
Most anglers have developed a modern day 'catch statistics' dependency and decide where (and if) they fish based on previous catch years or where is currently producing fish. This assessment procedure is most certainly flawed for the following reasons. The average angling skill set level wouldn't necessarily be able to capitalise on a pool packed full of fresh run 'takers' so that scenario would be unlikely to translate into half a dozen or more salmon landed which would be the case if a few skilled salmon anglers were present. While using catch statistics is deemed necessary for evaluating salmon beats and for the reporting of annual catches to Marine Scotland there should be more thought applied to how catch figures are used for daily marketing purposes so they don't continue to be a giant salmon beat sales prevention tool costing the industry big revenues. If a beat is going to use the daily catch stats route for marketing light should also be shone on whether a salmon beat was actually fished on any particular day/week and if so how experienced any anglers present were (beginner, average or advanced). Without more basic information a beat holding plenty of fish and un-fished (or fished by complete beginners) will always look like a non starter on the internet.