Down by the riverside in salmon country
Aside from The Independent, Annalisa Barbieri writes for the Economist's Intelligent Life magazine, and the New Statesman. A former contributing editor of the Independent on Sunday and fishing correspondent of the Independent, she is also patron of Rights of Women
Sunday 01 February 1998
Each angling association, agent or keeper of a stretch will advise you on what equipment to take - whether you need waders, length of rod, fly etc - but you will need to bring your own equipment, unless specified. Most places will provide ghillies - which I recommend, unless you are fantastically experienced. September and October are the busiest times of year, so book early. Prices quoted are per rod, per day for the right to fish only, unless specified. (PS: People can be incredibly snotty about the Tweed. Don't let them put you off).
The two main salmon rivers, apart from the Tay, are the Spey and the Tweed. The Upper North Wark stretch of the Tweed, between Kelsar and Coldstream, costs from pounds 300 per week until the end of April (season opens 2 February). From May to August, the fishing lays off on this beat. Then, from September to the end of November prices are pounds 1,000 per week, including ghillie and boat. Call Strutt & Parker on 0171 629 7282 (contact Tim Stoop). NB: Strutt and Parker handle several beats on many rivers in Scotland, including five on the Tweed and "the famous junction beat at Kelsar".
Speymouth Angling Association controls the two bottom beats of the Spey. Prices range from pounds 10 to pounds 40, according to season, which closes on this beat on 22 August to allow for private members. No ghillies available. Call 01343 820703 (contact Moira Brown).
Seven beats on the Spey, (two below Fochabers Road Bridge and five upstream) are administered by the estate office of Gordon Castle. The season runs from 11 February to end September. Saturdays are mostly reserved for locals (pounds 10), while weekdays are open to all (pounds 15). Ghillies available. Call 01343 820244 (contact Captain Simon Taylor).
Sale & Partners look after six beats on the Colestream Bridge to Tillmouth Park part of the Tweed. Prices (including a boat and ghillie) vary from pounds 50 to pounds 88 from 2 February to 12 September, after which you can book by week only, although places are very restricted. Prices range from pounds 1,500 to pounds 2,000. The season closes end November. Call 01668 281611 (contact Jacqueline Scott).
If you want to fish the Deveron, there are nine beats, from Banff to Huntly, from 11 February to end May. Prices are pounds 10 in February, pounds 15 in March/April and pounds 20 in May. From June, a one-and-a-half mile beat is available at Turriff, when weekly bookings apply (pounds 80 -pounds 100 depending on time of year). Rods, reels and lines for hire, but not waders or flies. Ghillies available. Call 01888 562428 (contact Mrs Masson).
Fishing on the River Polly is usually organised weekly with accommodation but daily tickets are available occasionally between May and September for about pounds 15 to pounds 25. No ghillies. Call 01854 622452 (ask for Polly Estates).
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