top of page

Covid -19 – Should Salmon Fishing Stay Open?

Updated: Mar 21, 2020

I sit here, currently in isolation [well I have my dogs, which are great], as someone who made my living as a Ghillie for over 25 years, and, as with everyone else at this moment, have never seen a situation such as the one we are facing right now.

One question I had from a fishing client this morning and not for the first time this week, was - Should we be fishing at all right now?

There are two thought’s here -

The River will be the perfect place to self-isolate!

The River is the workplace of Ghillies, Boatmen and River Keepers, so this impacts on self-isolation!

Given my experience of Ghillying and doing the job properly, my view regarding the current situation would be this -

On a beat with a Ghillie, there should be either no fishing at all, or, their duties, along with what’s expected of them must be totally different to the expectation of normal times.

Whilst I can totally understand someone going to a beat with no ghillie, taking his or her chances with other anglers, personally, I think those visiting beats with Ghillies need to think a little differently. As do those asking Ghillies to continue working, who ultimately have a responsibility for the health and safety of both employees and clients.

Those owning the fishing and asking their ghillies to continue working in an environment where they come into contact, not only with new people every day or week, but generally the vulnerable group outlined by the government, should provide clear guidance on what should, and should not, be expected of both themselves and their ghillies.

Should those include? -

  1. No use of the fishing hut and anything in it.

  2. No use of the toilet facilities [Back to the good old days].

  3. Not be expecting the Ghillie to handle their equipment, including rods, fly-boxes etc.

  4. Not coming in direct contact with the Ghillie [Stay two meters away at all times].

  5. Think about how this might impact on both angler and ghillie whilst fishing from the boat.

  6. No car sharing with the Ghillie.

The best run [Ghillied] beats will provide clear direction to their clients via the Head Ghillie, because ultimately, he is the guy in the front line and for the fishing client, is their main point of contact. This information should also be made available to the fishing client in black and white prior to the days fishing.

The reason for this, as we should all know by this time is – If you do want to go outside, then it’s advised [and with good reason] that you stay two meters clear of anyone else. Don’t touch anything that could have been touched by anyone else's hand. In the case of fishing beats without Ghillies, that could mean handles on styles used for crossing fences. You really must think for yourself and use common sense.  Any flat surfaces like benches. Much safer just to sit on the ground. Whilst all this may appear Draconian, there is no doubt this virus will spread, and spread rapidly. It’s a seriously nasty bug that “will” kill a great many more people in our country, particularly those in the 70+ age group. The best defence is to not open yourself up to it in the first place! For those still a little unsure of just how dangerous this is and what you should be doing to combat it PLEASE, I urge you to watch this 7-minute clip, its excellent.

Fishing on a river can be the best form of self-isolation ever as long as what you’re doing is not impacting on anyone else, plus it provides you with natural vitamin D3.

My own feeling is, pretty much as its been from the beginning of all of this. Be ultra-cautious, even on your fishing day. Use common sense! Will I fish during this? In all probability yes, because I know the fresh air is good or my immune system, but very much following the guidelines above. Should I be frustrated with those beats who decide to cancel fishing [Ghillied Beat]? Not in the least. It’s their personal prerogative and given the seriousness of this cannot be seen by anyone as anything but responsible.

To all my customers. Please stay safe, use common sense regarding this and avoid contact with others whenever possible. We want to see you back fishing with us next season!

If you are fishing - Tight Lines and enjoy the break away from the TV.

1,654 views2 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Thank you for the email and especially the of the best I’ve seen about this whole Corona Virus situation...Stay Well


Hi Ian. I agree with every word in your article. Very responsible of you to raise the issues in continuing to fish. So many don’t grasp how serious the situation is but sadly we all will very soon. Regards. Dr Ken Jones

bottom of page