Salmon Fishing Guests
By Jock Monteith 19th November 2018
Over the decades I've personally experienced hundreds of special days & moments with fishing guests on the River Tay and other Scottish salmon rivers. Here's a wee story of one such day where everything quickly went according to plan.
Swiss Salmon Fishing Guests
I remember receiving a call from a travel agent advising me that two of her clients were en-route to Scotland by car from Switzerland and should be arriving in the next few hours and wanted to go salmon fishing. Fortunately I was free that day but even if I personally hadn't been I'd have got one of my trusted professional ghillie team colleagues to cover the job as I cannot ever recall not being able to arrange guided or unguided Scottish salmon fishing for guests even at short notice.
A Red Ferarri On The River Tay
The clients arrived at the Tay venue I arranged in the most beautiful new Ferrari sports car and I thought to myself that's a great Autumn colour from a salmon's point of view! The guests were truly 'exhausted' as they'd set off from Switzerland the day before and had driven through the night for a chance of catching a salmon in Scotland but nothing a quality dram & a few black coffees on arrival couldn't quickly fix! They were keen to learn and neither of them had ever fished for salmon before which is fine as our fish are thankfully not interested in CVs.
A Brief Speycasting Lesson On The Tay
I got them both quickly kitted up as I wasn't sure how long their batteries would last and marched them down to one of the beat's lovely salmon fly pools that had been allocated that morning to them. Within 10 minutes both of them were performing the Spey cast after a joint lesson to an acceptable level of competence. I also quickly brainwashed them both on the importance of good fly swing separation, riverbank movement and most importantly of all how to react (or not as the case may be) to a salmon take should one occur. I'm stating these basics as it never fails to amaze me that (from what I've seen over the years) that the majority of Scottish salmon fishers don't have a good grasp of one or more of these essential salmon fishing basics. I split the 2 guests up and positioned them approximately 80 yards apart and commenced a 'one on one' fine tuning procedure as they both started to fish the pool.
Quick River Tay Sub Surface Cooperation
After 3 or 4 minutes as I was walking between them I heard a shout and turned to notice one of the guests poised with his rod tip down and pointing at his fly reel as the fly line was being drawn off in short intermittent lengths. He kept calm and followed my exact instruction of not reacting to the first tug or two from a fish and let the salmon thinks it's got away with the fly! He was again looking at me for approval to set the hook and after a few more slow seconds I gave him the nod. He clamped the reel face to let the line tighten and hooked the salmon solidly even though it was a big tough mouthed River Tay cock salmon. After a good 25 minute battle we eventually got the fish into the landing net much to his relief.
Delighted Scottish Salmon Fishing Guests
The guest was 'over the moon' to say the least due to his 'objective' being achieved after only a few minutes of starting to fish. The pressure now was on his 'father in law' to do something similar and an hour or so later our 'Salmon God' smiled yet again and provided a second salmon to make it a double for the Swiss based duo. They both left after a fantastic morning's introduction to the River Tay & Scottish salmon fishing and didn't want to fish during the afternoon as they were more than happy with the morning's productivity and action! Now from a professional point of view I did my job of tuning their sleep deprived brains into the things that really matter in salmon fishing from a fly control, movement & hooking point of view and without them both grasping these skills that level of success would definitely not have been possible for 2 brand new salmon fishers. A successful salmon guide will not only eat this stuff for breakfast but will be able to duplicate his fly swim time in the hands of complete novices to a competent level within a short space of time and view all guests like operating a remote control with occasional tweaks and adjustments.