Exclusive Interview with River Keeper and Ghillie Mark Strong
Q1 – Which River do you work on?
The River Eden and Eamont on the Yorkshire fly waters.
Q2 – What would a typical day consist of in your job title?
On the river for around 6am, check the river conditions and post a blog for members, go round my mink traps, then its breakfast time. Meet and greet members and put them on the water and offer advice, then off to cut grass or do some maintenance depending on the time of year. During the summer months I will do a kick sample once a month checking invertebrate abundance, check in with members before they leave, look round in the evening after tea checking for poachers etc. If really hot will do some strimming later when its cooler.
Q3 – How long have you worked in the fishing industry and what lead you to become a Ghillie?
I have been a River Keeper/Ghillie for six years but I have fished on the Eden for thirty years. I have always been interested in the countryside and was very lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
Q4 – What would the perfect river conditions be on your beat?
If I looked at the river every morning and it was 18” with a tinge of colour I would be very happy as most of the pools will fish.
Q5 – What is your favourite pool on the beat and why?
A pool named Graces would probably be one of my favourites, not one of the most productive pools but pulls the fly round perfectly and you’re expecting a pull every time.
Q6 – The most memorable moment you have had whilst working as a Ghillie?
It would probably be netting a 22lb hen salmon in August 2014 for a member who is sadly no longer with us.
Q7 – When is the best time to fish on the area you work?
Probably the best time 3/4 years ago would be September, but in recent years May would be a good time given the water.
Q8 – If you could only fish with one fly for the rest of the season what would it be?
The fly I couldn’t be without is a Kylie, salmon fishing is about confidence and this fly gives me confidence and has landed me plenty of fish over the last few years.
Q9 – What is your best fishing memory to date and why?
Getting my first 20lb salmon and on a 7/8 switch rod.
Q10 – What is the largest fish you have ever caught?
Q11 – If you had the chance to go anywhere in the world for a week’s fishing what destination would you choose and why?
Probably sea trout fishing on the Rio Grande because it the best in the world.
Q12 – Tippet material varies so much these days, what is your favourite and why?
Maxima Chameleon it is reliable, dependable, never lets you down and of course its cheap.
Q13 – What is your favourite fly rod and why?
There are two rods I would not be without, the first a 13’0” Vision Mag ideal for our river, light fast action rod perfect for shooting heads. The second is a Guideline LXi T-Pac 7/8 switch rod great for our smaller Eamont and when the main river is at summer level, very light fish all day and you don’t know you have been out it is great to use when in a tight spot.
Q14 – Your fly line is arguably the most important part of your fishing set up. What is your favourite and why do you like using it?
Again there are two lines I use a lot, the first is a Rio Scandi Short Versitip works really well on my switch rod easy casting line ideal for tight places. The second is a Vision Ace clear float very stealthy and turns over the fastest sinking tips for fun.
Q15 – What bit of kit could you not live without?
In the last few years I wouldn’t be without a wading stick, must be an age thing.
Thanks for your time Mark.