Salmon Fishing Tuition
By Jock Monteith 4th July 2019
As a professional ghillie I always love to see anglers catching salmon and especially when someone's fishing for the very first time. We are there to assist when & where possible and even a one liner from a professional ghillie can often be the difference between catching a salmon or not.
Different Salmon Angler Abilities
What I've personally seen on the Tay over the years is a mixed bag of angler skill sets from absolute tactical perfectionists to anglers who are just completely wasting their time if catching a salmon is their real objective. Our pursuit has been through a rough enough time since the Greenland feeding grounds were discovered and were commercially 'annihilated' and clearly stock levels have dipped significantly across the globe since then. We are now decades into an era where you really need to know what you're doing to stand a reasonable chance of catching salmon on any river and gaining better satisfaction from this fine pursuit.
Salmon Catch Statisticians
The problem that's been created these days has been letting 'catch stats' run the show. As we are all highly trained 'statisticians' in modern day living these little 'nail in the coffin' daily digits have been allowed to 'creep' into this most amazing natural pursuit to a point where it now negatively influences the booking patterns of salmon anglers. Anglers are now assuming that a blank day on a salmon beat means it's not worth booking or that there was no chance of a fish which will be the furthest thing away from the truth you could imagine in the vast majority of cases.
The Macallan Whisky Poem
No anglers no fish, no fish no anglers reminds me of a beautiful poem that used to appear with a bottle of Macallan where the guests wouldn't offer the ghillie a dram but continued to drink in front of him all week. At the end of the week the fish-less guest says to the ghillie "Ghillie no fish no Macallan" to which the ghillie replies "no Macallan no fish!" This is a similar scenario today as the vast majority of the UK salmon fishers are watching daily catch reports prior to booking their fishing and in many cases that lack of forward planning commitment will mean the fishing trip never happens and a beat doesn't get fished.
Love The Inevitable Blank Days
To counteract the 'stats' dilemma that's now been allowed a firm hold it's now time for salmon fishers who are serious about their approach to get more effective on how they are actually approaching the water. A blank day on any beat should be celebrated if the pools have been fished correctly as that blank day is 'logically' bringing you one day closer to success. A blank day where salmon hooking opportunities were squandered or the pools weren't even covered or fished effectively enough can hurt beat booking revenue and therefore also the local economy.
A New Era Of Salmon Fisher Standards
I personally believe it's now time to move into a new era where salmon fishing agents spend time qualifying exactly what the client needs and not just the 'there's your ticket and on you go' approach. Client qualification is a key component in most businesses but it certainly hasn't been in Scottish salmon fishing to date. There are many brilliant professional ghillies on the Scottish salmon rivers who can assist who have been open minded and observant enough to fine tune there salmon fishing skills and never close the book on the learning curve. Being on a salmon river each day gives these professionals the edge as nothing beats the number one eye ball when studying salmon behavioural patterns and how best to catch them.
Take Effective Salmon Fishing Tuition
If you're new to this amazing sport or want to increase your salmon fishing effectiveness then get with a true professional who's highly skilled in whatever method of salmon fishing you want to brush up on. A day or even an hour to get the basics of effective riverbank movement, water coverage, setting the hook and playing & landing a salmon firmly established in your mind will be time well spent. The difference between success and failure in this sport can often be the slightest of adjustments to one or more of the above disciplines.