Salmon Beat Ghillies
By Jock Monteith 17th May 2021
Most of the Scottish salmon fishing venues have a professional ghillie in residence on the beat to staff the location for the benefit of all visiting salmon fishing guests. Having served my time as a professional ghillie on the River Tay the next few paragraphs highlight a few of the points that I personally believe that makes a resident salmon beat ghillie stand out from the crowd.
Why Ghillies Become Ghillies
Most people who choose this glorious river path in life are not doing so from a commercial point of view so I think it's worth establishing that fact from the outset. A professional ghillie will simple love the river in its own right and the tradition of this wonderful sport coupled with the excitement of meeting all types of guests and playing a role in seeing these guests catching salmon throughout the fishing season.
A Professional Salmon Beat Ghillie
A professional Scottish salmon beat ghillie will have a good feel of what makes a salmon beat special and will take a high sense of pride in his daily duties. This self pride can usually instantly be detected upon the arrival at the fishing hut by its condition and state of readiness. A fresh coat of paint, a boiled kettle and a lit fire are normally good indicators of this essential pride. A sincere greeting with some mild positivity regarding the fishing prospects can also be expected from a top ghillie as he will fully understand the power of positive thought when it comes to catching salmon and will have the wisdom through experience to never right off the chances of success even during the toughest salmon fishing conditions.
Salmon Fishing Guests
On venues where there could be multiple guest parties arriving a professional salmon beat ghillie will have the ability to manage his rods 'expertly' and accommodate all fishers with a fair fishing rotational system yet still play each guest to their own fishing skill ability. As an example of what I'm meaning here an experienced & considerate professional ghillie will not place a limited 'right hand only' single Spey casting guest onto a pool that requires a left handed Spey cast if there's a stiff downstream breeze blowing that could jeopardise the guest's safety. Or if he has to he'll spend a little bit of time with the guest demonstrating the ease of the left hand up double Spey cast to counter act such wind conditions.
A Top Performing Salmon Beat Ghillie
A professional ghillie who's on top of their game will spread his time between each fishing guest and any other required salmon beat duties as best he can throughout the morning and afternoon fishing sessions and not just disappear for hours on end. A professional beat ghillie will never consider picking up his own rod for a cast on the pools his guests are fishing (unless invited to do so) or fish the pools before his guests arrive in the morning. A true professional will be thinking for and ahead of his guests every hour of the fishing day to make sure they're in with the very best chance of success.
The Great Scottish Salmon Ghillies
The best salmon beat ghillies in Scotland will be genuine 'grounded' souls who you'll very likely feel an instant connection with and these men are the true ambassadors of the Scottish rivers and will attract regularly returning salmon fishers to their beats. These men will keep an immaculate fishing hut and an observant visiting fisher will notice where they've sympathetically trimmed the necessary riverbank bushes and overhanging branches on the pools of their salmon beats for ease of salmon fishing. The work of a true professional cannot go unnoticed as the little signs will be plentiful throughout the full length of their salmon beat and from a service level point of view they'll be periodic appearances where astute tactical suggestions are sometimes made over the full course of the salmon fishing day.