A young ghillie working on Glen Tanar Estate has been nominated in the Young Ambassador category of the region’s tourism awards.
Craig McDonald, 24, has secured a nomination as a top young tourism ambassador at the 2015 Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards.
Having been taught to fish by his grandfather at a young age, Craig grew up fishing and knew quickly that he was destined for a life on the banks of the river. After gaining a BSc (Honours) in Biological Sciences (Ecology) from Edinburgh University, he headed back north to the River Dee.
Craig said: “The Dee is a special place, and people from all walks of life come from all over the world to fish here. I have always been interested in wildlife and the outdoors, so to be able to spend all day every day outside doing something I love is fantastic. And while the fishing is fantastic, it’s not just about the marine life:
“I’ve had otters fishing beside me in the river, and deer coming up really close.
“There’s no such thing as an average day when you’re a ghillie – each day brings its own challenges. I enjoy meeting the guests as they arrive at the river, finding out about their tactics for the day and offering advice on where might be best to fish depending on the conditions.
“There are also often opportunities for me to share my knowledge of the river with guests. I remember one time I helped a young lad catch his first fish. It was his first ever time fishing, and I taught him how to cast – within half an hour he’d caught a salmon. His dad was really proud of him, and it was great to be able to help out.”
As a recipient of the River Dee Bursary, awarded by the Dee District Salmon FisheryBoard, Craig has been able to focus on his career.
He continued: “Being a ghillie isn’t necessarily an easy job to get into, but if you have that passion it’s an achievable goal and it’s an incredibly rewarding job. The River Dee Bursary is a great help with allowing people to achieve their goals, and I’m really grateful for the funding, training and work experience it has provided me.”
Fiona Martin, sales manager at Glen Tanar Estate, said: “From the start Craig has had a good understanding of excellent customer service. He understands the importance of maintaining the environment both for the enjoyment and benefit of his fishing guests, and for the health of the river and the fish themselves.”
Up against Craig in the Young Ambassador category Awards are Stuart McPhee, assistant manager with Harding Ltd at Siberia Vodka Bar, and Adelle Chessor, digital media executive at VisitAberdeen.