A professional salmon fishing career based breakdown of what role a ghillie serves on the salmon rivers of Scotland.
The traditional role of a Scottish ghillie was to be the expert for the clan chieftan to rely on for deer hunting, grouse shooting & salmon fishing. These days the man in charge of a section (beat) of a Scottish salmon river is known as the ghillie and his roles are fairly extensive in the daily running and maintenance of the fishery.
The beat ghillie's duties involve maintaining the riverbanks via grass cutting, strimming, sapling & branch pruning. The maintenance of the salmon fishing hut is also a part of the role of a ghillie. When fishing guests arrive the ghillie also works out the salmon pool rotations for all fishing guests and gives solid advice on how best to fish the salmon pools on his beat based on the prevailing water conditions. A salmon beat ghillie sometimes will be able to go further and supply equipment and give casting lessons with personal one-on-one tuition for a single fisher or a group of beginners but this extra service should not be assumed unless negotiations have taken place beforehand to secure these extra services.
Most well established Scottish salmon fishing beats will have a full time professional salmon beat ghillie on the beat to keep fishing guests customer service levels good and the venue in a good state of repair. Riverbanks and fishing huts can very quickly look unkept without a professional ghillie being present to take care of everything. A good ghillie plays a vital role in the successfull operartion of a salmon beat and in Scotland's major 4 rivers there are approximately 250 ghillies operating between full time & part time positions. On Scotland's other 400 salmon rivers there will also be many other professional ghillies operating too.
A salmon beat ghillie is mostly present to attent to the beat management and overview his fishing guests which can be highly time intensive when he starts his 'permit access' only guests off and periodically checks on how they are doing throughout the full course of the fishing day in addition to other salmon beat maintenance and sometimes also boat fishing duties. With a beat ghillie's daily responsibilities in mind it's often always a better idea (if you're new to salmon fishing or are an existing salmon fisher in need of fine tuning) to hire a personal guide who will teach you how to fish for salmon, supply all of the fishing equipment & waterproofing and stay with you (& your group) all day to ensure you are covering the salmon pools properly to give you the best chance of catching salmon. Follow this link for more information on how to book a salmon fishing guide in Scotland.