Welcome to the SGA's new Fishing Coronablog.
During lockdown, every
sporting sector has been hit and future consequences are also now being considered, with money flowing
out of local economies, fast. The fishing season was already open when fisheries were forced to stop
abruptly. Some ghillies have been furloughed. Others are taking the unexpected break to get odd jobs
We want to hear from ghillies, river workers, fishery board employees, anglers (anyone for
whom fishing is a passion or a living) about their own experiences of lockdown; what they've been
doing, how it will affect their fisheries and what, if anything may be learned from this
All subjects will be considered, long, short or somewhere in between. The aim is to
provide a forum for people to share experiences, to debate, share laughter, fears, DIY tips, whatever
comes to mind.
If you want to take part, send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org,
with the subject: Coronablog. Send a photo, either of yourself or something appropriate to go with your
entry. Videos can also be sent. Feel free, too, to make comments on the posts when we post them on
The first Coronablog entry is from Bob White, a ghillie on the Tay and a member of
the SGA Fishing Group. Thanks Bob.
No one could have envisaged this onslaught a month or so ago, but we have had to accept it and adapt
quickly, day by day.
When the outbreak started in China no one could comprehend the speed of the
spread and all over the world. Everyone is so interconnected nowadays and, yes, what a small world it
has become with modern travel.
Commercial fishing stopped abruptly with the self-isolating advice being clear but fishing, as a
whole, continued for a few days until it became abundantly apparent it was not the correct thing to do,
even although on your own. This is still the case although there is some talk of fishing and golfing
being able to commence soon but at distance.
How it will work is certainly going to be interesting. The consequences of this are far reaching
financially in terms of jobs and fishery survival. Most have taken big hits due to this, but it was
already in a fragile state with dramatically reducing runs and catches in recent years, although there
seemed to be an air of optimism with improvement this season so far, with some lovely spring salmon
caught. However, that seems a distant memory now after 5 weeks of lockdown.
This may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in some cases. Fisheries have, by and large,
understood the serious situation, honouring bookings that had to be cancelled, refunding money,
providing alternative days or carrying it forward to next season and shame any that do not comply or try
to wriggle out of that as they do not deserve to be supported.
In the case of Timeshare, management fees have continued to go out despite no fishing but I am sure
some form of compensation will be forthcoming.
Some Ghillies have been furloughed which effectively means staying at home all the time, taking away
the opportunity of keeping the beats maintained and checking boats and huts. Fortunately others remain
on full pay enabling them to work on their own on beats and honour their roll as guardians of the river
and banks. There is always something to do on the beats and especially at this time of year with the
grass growing quickly as the temperature warms up. River boards are under threat as well with river
levies not being paid by some beat owners because they can not fish. The river still has to be run and
It is trying times for everyone, so what have ghillies been up to in recent weeks? The world seems to
have stopped, enabling us to do all the jobs we have put off for years. Is this what retirement is like?
I am single but have my 2 lovely daughters back home from University in Edinburgh and we have been
keeping busy daily. The car and my truck are spotless inside and out! We have been power hosing
everywhere, getting the moss off the roof, roans are cleared and garden work in full swing. Our gardens
will never look so good. I have even been making a new hen run to hopefully keep any predators away as
my last hens got killed by a fox and pine marten.
My daily routine includes a fly tying session and I see from Facebook lots of ghillies are passing on
their secretes to anglers, with some outstanding patterns being shared, inspiring everyone for the
preparation of the eventual restart. I have not really done much tying in years until recently, but I
certainly have had a renaissance in that field. I am not sure what motivated me, but I saw an advert for
Frodin flies and the rest is history, so to speak. I was inspired and started tying up some spring
patterns which have been really successful. I had 2 catches of a couple of great spring salmon in a day
prior to the shutdown and I had been letting clients use the flies as well to gain some great successes.
I now have complete faith in the system, but I am now tying far smaller flies for the summer and early
autumn- assuming we can get back to the river again. Videos on YouTube have been inspirational as well,
brushing up on techniques and giving new ideas. There is a team of us sharing our daily tyings on
WhatsApp and my fly box is starting to fill rapidly.
My daily routine has been going out early to walk my three labs and to check the estate, beats, boats
and huts. It is truly a great time to be out at the river, with much better weather. I have been taking
the river temperature daily and it is rising which will enable the salmon to run and spread throughout
the vast Tay system as on all rivers.
It is an exciting time of year but frustrating that we cannot be out enjoying the fishing and
imparting our knowledge and experience to anglers. The countryside is coming alive in the tremendous
weather that we have been witnessing with the leaves bursting out giving us a sea of green. Ospreys,
Sand Pipers, Sand Martins, Swallows and Swifts have all arrived back and can be seen daily. The Geese
have gone, travelling north and soon the wild flowers will be in full bloom by June making the
riverbanks a glorious place to be.
I will be on the riverbank on our beats on a daily basis cutting grass, planting flowers and keeping
the beats smart for the eventual reopening. It is a passion of love of our glorious countryside.
Hopefully we will all come out of this mess stronger and more resilient. Take care and stay safe.