Never Say Never In Salmon Fishing
By Jock Monteith 3rd October 2019
Unless you wish to set yourself up for the inevitable fall never use the word 'never' in Scottish salmon fishing. If you're a 'negative' ghillie or a 'negative' type of occasional salmon fisher the same applies if you're ever advising other fishers it's a waste of time. "You'll never catch a salmon' is a dangerous, stupid & thoughtless remark if there ever could be one spoken on any salmon river.
Memories From The River Tay
Although there are hundreds of riverbank incidents that come to mind on this topic from decades of riverbank life I'll relay an amusing one to you that happened to my own son Johnny right under the viaduct on the Cargill/Ballathie beat of the River Tay. As a young lad my son landed many salmon including a day of 7 from the boat with me when he was just 4 years old. Many of his early salmon had a significant bit of 'dad assist' tagged onto them which he was always naturally aware of!
High Quality River Tay Salmon Fishing
It was a very expensive 'exclusive use' October booking on the lower Tay which an annually returning party of Dutch fishers had booked for 6 rods but only 2 of them turned up due to unforeseen last minute business commitments. This booking also included 2 boats and 2 boatmen which left the riverbank completely un-fished as the 2 guests wished to mainly fish from the boats. I called my son and said 'Johnny get yourself up here' as we need some additional riverbank coverage as 4 of the fishing guests hadn't appeared.
You Never Truly Know The Moment
Having watched his old man consistently pull the 'rabbit out of the hat' whether under pressure for a TV company or magazine writer or for numerous clients when the going was tough he was starting to get jaded with me continually passing him a bent rod to deal with. We were 10 yards below the Cargill viaduct & I was watching him spinning a Toby 'Salmo' lure which I knew was right in amongst many salmon. As he turned to me near the end of a retrieve he started to say 'Dad I'll never hook a salm....Dad, dad, dad!!!!
Promising Signs From Young Monteith
Over the years he's caught many salmon and even managed to put clients into the 'only' fish of the day when his father & other professional Tay ghillies failed to hit objective during bigger corporate salmon fishing event days. Yes, he definitely seems to have a natural nose for it and he must get that from his mother! That particular day though he developed a different mental mindset that is a key factor that's missed by many in this amazing Scottish rural pursuit.
3 Days On Cargill With Dave Godfrey
At the end of those 3 amazing days 23 salmon had been caught mainly from the boats with expert lower Tay Head Ghillie Dave Godfrey & then Cargill ghillie Ally Scott (now Islamouth) 'brilliantly' in charge of boat operations. We were catching salmon for fun from the riverbank too and one of the clients hooked a 24 lbs brute of a cock salmon with one of his very first casts on the Monday morning which was one of 2 x 20 pounders caught in the Cradle Pool on the fly over those 3 days. I'm sure the 4 members of the group that didn't show up would have enjoyed receiving their KLM in-flight 'sick bags' that the 2 who did show up were taking home as souvenirs for them!
Make Your Own Luck In Salmon Fishing
Like anything in life those who try the hardest & don't give up usually receive their lion's share of luck. On the Tay where there's a colossal volume of water you really need to know what you're doing and be calculating all the time as you're fishing. Where in the water column are you targeting, how fast a fly or lure, move, push on, keep going, check your fly, bigger mend, slow the fly down, keep going, move, cast, mend, move..... If you're not strategically aligned with a meaningful battle plan your chances of success will be significantly diminished. Enjoy the hours of searching as that first shot of adrenalin from contact with a perfect River Tay salmon will instantly bleach all search efforts from your mind!