What makes a good fishing holiday?
Plenty of fish?
So, given the numbers of fish we have at the moment and will have in the next years. As a salmon angler, what would you say is the most important of the above ?
Plenty of Fish – Given the information we now have courtesy of the internet, everyone knows that 98% of salmon fishing is now very similar, I.e. outside the 2% of generally inaccessible beats, The chances of catching a fish, nowadays, no matter where you fish, is totally in the lap of the gods. So what would take me to one place over another?
Well, as an example, looking at the river Tweed in spring. Why would I want to fish in the month of March on the upper river, say at Walkerburn? Statistically speaking, there’s little chance up here at this time. The only place we’d go to fish, assuming number one was the “only” priority, would be those beats like Hendersyde, Sprouston, the Junction and Floors. On the Spey, those beats would be Delfur, Rothes, Arndilly.
However, if we look at the number of rods on water, to that of fish caught, interestingly, those are the beats that are fully rodded all the time, with those other around them let only on a limited basis.
Looking closer, of the rods fishing Rothes this Feb and March, they caught a handful of salmon between 6 rods fishing every day since the 11th Feb, Delfur too, has landed a similar handful.
Those are the beats that everyone perceives are the best and offer the best chance of catching a fish At this time, and statistically speaking, they’d be right. However, is this not simply because they are fished much harder than those around them!?
Good Company - What if number two, good company, was high on your agenda? Well, this is something that we can do something about, as this is easy for us to choose, unless of course, you book your fishing on the internet and you have no idea who you may be fishing with. But going to a Beat with a group of friends, spending the week, or half a week having good craic and fishing some lovely water, to me, this has value. As long as I know there’s a chance of a fish, personally, I rate picking my own company.
Nice Beat - Number three, well, of course this is important. We all like fishing lovely pools with decent expectations of catching a fish, irrespective of today’s depleted runs. The fact of the matter is, here in Scotland we have some of the most beautiful fly fishing pools, however, the facts are, 98% provide exactly the same chance given the same hours of rods fishing as the others. However, taking Delfur as an example, simply because I know it. I’d say this provides the angler with some of the most wonderful salmon pools I know and for its length, properly rodded. The Mountain Family must be applauded for sticking to 5 rods, as, under different “greedy” Management, this would be ten. For me, this in itself definitely justifies the higher price charged for this fishing. Staying with Delfur, the beat is <>2.5 miles long, has both banks and serviced by four full time Ghillies looking after the five rods. Personally, I’ve never understood why other beats couldn’t see the value in providing this type of service, especially with limited numbers of fish. Anyway, you can lead a horse to water!
Relaxation - With regard number Four, the best places are those that tick the boxes for you personally! We all choose to relax in different ways. Older people like me, tend to look for comfortable fishing huts, good roads easy wading as this helps us relax and not stressed in any way. Younger people’s idea of relaxing tend to be different. It’s getting on the water with your own thoughts, emptying our minds to the demands of today’s fast life.
Given that we know most beats offer much the same chance of a fish than the other, I know as myself this question. Which offers value? What extras do some places offer over others!
Good Service - To me, this is the “MOST” important thing when looking at booking salmon fishing nowadays. The chances are, you won’t be able to access the 2% beats such as Delfur. People, and especially salmon fishermen, are obsessed with what they cant have, the grass is always greener.
A few places are obviously “unloved” by either the factor or owner. Pot holes wrecking your car and branches scratching it before arriving at the Beat. When you get there the fishing hut is cold, ill equipped poorly lit and untidy, Possibly without a flushing toilet. Boats in poor state of repair and seldom used, a poorly maintained riverbank, paths and steps present a hazard, particularly for older people.
On the other hand, if you have positive, fun Ghillies who love and take a pride in their Beat and are keen to help you in every way during your fishing day, then for me, those are the places worth their weight in gold, because in those places, irrespective of fish or not, you are guaranteed a great and memorable day on the river. This place provides great value, especially given the now level nature of the playing field.
So knowing what I know, personally, I go chasing the holy grail of loads of fish, for both myself and my guests. The right beats to suit the age, ability and expectations of my clients. Beats with really good, knowledgable Ghillies or Guides, keen to help and who don’t mind using boats, nice pools, good, safe access and comfortable huts are high up my list of priorities.
Knowing what I know about fish in our rivers. As a percentage, in 2018, How much importance would I place in each of the questions above?
Plenty of fish? 20% - I’m a realist, there are not so many as before. Expecting, or being promised lots of fish will lead to disappointment.
Good company? - 20% For me, I find this really important.
Nice, Quiet, beat? 15% - I think we all want this.
Relaxation? 15% - We definitely all want this.
Good service? 30% - We should all “demand” this 100% of the time.
How about you..?