The Brilliance Of A Ghillie
By Jock Monteith 25th December 2019
There's loads of different things that make up the excitement & thrill of being a professional ghillie aside from connection with the world's most 'treasured' gamefish. Here's a few of my own personal thoughts on what did it for me while working on the Tay.
An Early Morning Start On The River
As a former professional River Tay beat ghillie my task was not just to set each individual fishing guest off with the right advice on how to approach each likely taking spot on the beat. My work always started more than an hour before any guest would even arrive at the fishing hut. As a professional ghillie who eats, sleeps & breathes this business for me the preparation of each fishing day was paramount for the guest's enjoyment of their visit to the river.
Satisfaction From The Fishing Hut Being Organised
I used to take great satisfaction in getting the 'little things' just right like the hut floor swept and mopped out, the hut windows clean and the water cans refilled and cleaning the cups and glasses. Lighting the fire even on the warmer days for me always added a professional touch to the fishing hut when a guest entered. Making sure the kettle was at or near to 'boiling point' for guests arriving along with plenty fresh milk, tea & coffee to hand along with a quality bottle of malt whisky for those who were in need of a small but 'swift' early morning taste of Scotland!
Salmon Hut Area Preparation
Having all the rods built up and the boat engine warmed up or on 'tick over' with the content of the boats spic & span was important to my eye too. The outside table early morning drew wiped off and a good feel of total organisation about the place I always felt showed respect to the visiting anglers who had managed to 'shake free' from work commitments for a day or two on the Tay. I knew my efforts were always noticed and it was always a fast moving hour before the guests arrived to get things into a proper state of preparedness.
The Computing Mind Of A Professional Ghillie
Instantly assessing each guest on arrival from a salmon fishing point of view was also a skill I developed where I could more or less instantly tell what pools were going to suit each different angler to fish. Pairing that with their own individual requests for fly or spin fishing then coming up with an effective battle plan to play all guests to their strengths was always at the forefront of my thoughts in order to have all the salmon lies covered effectively each day and to keep each individual guest happy.
Positivity Throughout The Salmon Fishing Day
The entire salmon fishing experience is what matters the most in Scottish salmon fishing and a ghillie or guide who goes that extra distance for his guests is always appreciated. Keeping positivity about the chances of action was always a good thing too and personally I've seen some great fishing results from days where the guests kept going when logic was saying chuck it! A good blend of professional preparedness, salmon beat fishing knowledge and a sprinkling of 'positivity' for motivational purposes seemed to me to always be a winning combination!
Riverbank Maintenance And Salmon Beat Upkeep
During each season some carefully timed but completely thorough bank strimming sessions would be conducted to minimise the disruptive sound of a strimmer. I'd seldom do that when guests were on the beat as it shattered the ambiance which to my mind was a big part of the client's fishing day enjoyment. Riverbank sapling pruning would be timed just prior to expected high water levels and grass cutting around the hut would be done on a Sunday along with refilling fuel cans for the boat engines. Bigger branch tree work I'd usually leave for the closed season and let the high Winter water levels deliver them to Norway!
A Brilliant Life On The Salmon River
Although a professional salmon ghillie's job is not the most financially lucrative career anyone could choose there's much more to life than money. A professional beat ghillie who's in love with his work is a true 'billionaire' in lifestyle and make no mistake about how easy it is for him to leap out of bed each morning! The fascinating and brilliant guests a professional ghillie will meet on the naturally 'glorious' Scottish salmon rivers who all have a mutual 'obsession' in pursuing these most amazing creatures that still return to the salmon rivers of Scotland (despite decades of ineffective stock management) creates the most amazing personal friendships.