There has been salmon fishing on the River Spey at Gordon Castle since fishing began. Once the domain of Dukes and their guests at the Castle alone, the fishing now brings employment and significant spending to the wider area around Fochabers in Moray. Not only are the Estate the guardians of a fantastically beautiful part of the river and take a small part in trying to preserve and promote an iconic Scottish species, but the benefits the river brings spread far and wide.
Although the fishing beats at Gordon Castle make up probably the largest single manager fishery in Scotland, the facts and figures surrounding it, if extrapolated across the country, give some clue as to the benefits which arise as a result of a well managed fishery operation.
Gordon Castle runs the last eight miles of the river, before it flows into the Moray Firth at Spey Bay. This comprises 8 beats employing six full time and 3 part time Ghillies together with a Factor / manager, bookkeeper and support staff. During the season, over 6,000 rod days are available. Many days are taken by local fishers but the majority are fished by visitors. This important tourist trade make use of local hotels, Restaurants, B&Bs and self-catering accommodation. They shop in the area and help boost the local economy. Many come with family and friends, so the 6,000 number gets magnified.
The Estate also ensures that the local community gets as much low cost fishing as it wants. It gives over, at cost only, a beat of the river for the majority of the season to the Fochabers Angling Association. Other fishing is rented out on a first come first served basis either directly or electronically through services such as FishPal. If booked in good time, there is usually no shortage of availability.
The 20 river boats employed in the Fishery were made in Buckie, the fishing huts are made with locally sourced materials, the Ghillies have vehicles which need servicing, and they wear tweeds made locally. Gordon Castle Estate is the largest contributor to the Spey District Fishery Board which runs schools programmes and is currently responsible for the protection, enhancement and conservation of Atlantic Salmon and Sea Trout stocks and their fisheries in the Spey Catchment.