A week with the legendary Lionel Main


A weeks fishing with Loinel Main, „often hailed as the greatest gillie in Scotland“ as Sandy Leventon wrote in one of his articles in Trout and Salmon Magazine. I know for sure that Lionel would be more than a little embarassed if we referred to him like that. All I can say to this is that he is the image of a gentleman ghillie: Always nicely dressed (he wears a new shirt and tie in different colours every day!); never in a bad mood; helpful and sometimes even chivalrous (at least to me, I don’t know about the boys); humorous when appropriate; his advice is sometimes helpful,  etc, etc.

Buckie Angling Association is a pretty mixed group of anglers lucky to fish Castle Grant Waters on the Spey twice a year. We have known the ghillies for more than twenty years and are very fond of them- I am not sure if this is the case the other way round?

We started the week with high spirits as the weather and water conditions allowed us to fish the fly. We were successful and landed about 8 fish for the day. I was lucky to keep my second cock-fish for Christmas Dinner.

I agree it is not the nicest fish I caught, but it will look much nicer when smoked and lying on a plate! By the way the stone on the pic is the one which nearly caused me to fall into the river whilst playing the fish. Here’s a picture of me having a rest on the bank catching the rare rays of sunshine…..




Tuesday was a „hut-day“ as we had rain coming from above, the sides and sometimes from below. As if this were not enough winds blew at gale-force. Just two of us kept going into the elements- of course these were the young lads Beal and John. Gosh- I am getting old, years ago I would have insisted on joining them!

Wednesday we were allowed to spin as the water rose nearly 3 feet overnight , was „broon“ and the winds were still horribly strong. What a day: George and I  each hooked a fish simultaneously and had either to heave it out or tail it. We have fished together for nearly 25 years and this is the first time this has ever happened. Great fun, although I prefer to fly-fish- not a purist at all…… Everybody had fish and this continued throughout the week. Lionel was chuffed no end. We duly returned all the fish caught.



Twice this chap from the Manchester  area came to the hut to „pay a visit“. First time he had a dram with us and second time we were not sure what he was up to. Maybe sussing us out on our catches? He seemed a little miffed when he heard about ours. I quite liked his accent as he sounded just like Michael, our friend who passed away last year.



Andy brought some stuff from Michael for fly-tying and I got an old fly-box. This helps me to keep my flies tidy- a hard job for me indeed. Just see how the boys are interested:





You will notice that nearly everyone in our group ties his flies himself. For myself I have a bad reputation in that I tend to „borrow“ flies….



By the end of the week we had numerous fish almost all of them coloured, all were retruned into the water. A week to remember, as this was the end of the fishing season on the Spey. I did another video catching some of the ambience in our hut, and sometimes outside…. I had to censor Simon’s joke- you can hear the laughter though; Lionel had the last word, I thought this was appropriate. Here are some pictures of the spey – haste ye back in spring!

….and here my last comments: First time Lionel’s been caught at work!





5 Responses

  1. Fran Andreae says:

    Hi Elaine!
    Tatler would like to use your image of Lionel Main in their ‚Hunting, Shooting, Fishing‘ supplement.
    Is it your image and may be use it please? Otherwise, are you able to put me in touch with the owner?
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Many thanks,

    0207 152 3069

  2. Carolyne Robinson says:

    I enjoy your blog as ever but it was especially nice to see familiar faces from Buckie Anglers Club. What a nice tribute you paid to Lionel.

  3. Vegard says:

    Great ghillie, nice beat. I fished the beat above a few years ago, but Sandy Leventon invited me to come down to fish Polchraine, which I enjoyed a lot. Your blog made me regret I didn’t make it to Scotland this autumn. Next year!

    Congratulations with the fish, enjoy your Christmas salmon :-)

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