What makes for the perfect salmon fishing trip? We all probably value different aspects more or less than others. For some catching a fish is paramount, for others the friendly company of the other rods, for some it’s the quality of the pools we are fishing and for some it’s the gillies we are fishing with, and combinations of the above. Like all of us I enjoy catching a fish, but its not top of my list.
For me my top three are, (1) good fly water to fish. (2) casting well (3) getting on well with the gillie(s).
All the beats I choose to fish have good fly water, I’m very happy for others to spin, but I find it as dull as ditch water. My favourite river is the Dee, and three beats close to each other are top of my list. Invery Tilquhillie, Crathes and Lower Crathes West Durris. All three have fabulous fly water, my favourite pool is The Upper Bridge Pool on Lower Crathes. Its 300 yards of fast flowing fly water, with holding spots all the way down the run. I already loved the pool, but four fish in forty minutes last September endeared it even more. Admittedly all four had been out in the sun without enough sun cream, but it added to the fun watching Robert Harper the head gillie scampering up and down the bank every few minutes. Robert’s exertions were accompanied by constant sarcastic humour from the watching top local angler Malcolm Tocher.
For me on the quieter days fish-wise, casting well is such a pleasure, and casting badly such a pain. I have more kit than I will ever use, but on the days where rod, reel and line are balanced and you are casting well it is just such a great pleasure. And yes I do suffer from the predominantly male weakness of trying to cast too far.
Then there are the gillies, so important to an enjoyable fishing trip. We all have our favourite gillies, my top 8 are, Pud Murray on the Junction, Gary Harkin on Kercock, Robert Harper and Jordan Sinclair on Lower Crathes, Brian Sim on Crathes, Jim Turnbull and Karl Revel on Invery / Tilquhillie and Brian Brogan on Banchory Fishings. I’m never quite sure if Pud means to be as funny as he is or not, but there is always a lot of banter and laughing. Gary is just so hard working and attentive to his rods, constantly up and down his long beat. Robert and Jordan provide the consummate gillie service, with the added Punch and Judy show every morning between Jordan and Malcolm Tocher, when they debate the actual height on the gauge. I’ve fished with Brian Sim for almost 20 years, his witty dry humour can brighten up the worst fishing day. Jim gets a special mention. I fell in at the start of a season when the water was icy cold while fishing the Pantoch on the Crathes side. Unable to contact Brian, Jim raced round from the other side of the river in his big red pickup and took me down to the hut to dry out and warm up. And those who have fished with Karl will know he is one of a kind, a one-off gillie. Karl is without doubt Scotland’s most loquacious gillie, Karl can talk for Scotland and usually does. Always cheerful, Karl chatters away about just about any topic under the sun. And finally, Brian Brogan, Brian is a gillie who is simply always interesting to talk to. You need to be careful your fishing time does not slip away as Brian recounts his huge knowledge of Scottish salmon fishing.
So there are the constituent parts of my perfect fishing trip.
Colin Chisholm, Musselburgh.