In mid Atlantic a Cock Salmon quivers then rises to the surface, the sun glints off his blue and green scales covered in sea lice. He circles many times until he is sure, then with one stroke of his tail he sets himself on course.

The salmon run, one of nature’s phenomenons has taken place.

The salmon’s name is Stan.

Stan shouts “I am going hame” to the bi-lingual throng who have zeroed in on there own direction. “So are we” “so are we” echoes back. Gradually the huge mass finding their own way thins out and Stan heads direct north with his own kind.

Where dae ye come from asks Stan to the multitude along side him? The Esk, The Earn, The Almond, The Dee, The Don, The Glass and on it goes.

Then one old cock swims alongside and says “You’re a Tay salmon, I can tell! Man that’s a bonny river.” “The finest in Scotland”states Stan swelling with pride, even though he was only telling the truth.

Eventually Stan reached the Tay Estuary at Dundee and a female joins him who seems a bit nervous. “Would you mind if I tagged along awhile, it’s my first run”. “Not at all replied Stan, what’s your name?”  Mhairi was the reply. “Just follow me, I am river wise, nae bother.”

The pair entered the river and in no time they were at Perth Harbour, then Stan confides in Mhairi of the dangers in front of them. There used to be nets where we passed but no more. Be alert for otters, manys the good salmon has been taken by those rascals, one bite is all they take but that’s enough. Watch out for the fisherman with their false lures, know the natural insects on the water and you will be right hen.

Here we go, that’s Perth City, see all the embankment walls, that’s for the floods that come down here. There’s the Railway Brig, Stanners Island and Auld Souters Brig, but not far from here the tidal water stops then it is fresh water all the way. I dinnae ken about you hen but I will be glad to get rid of those damned sea lice, excuse the french. Through the pen and ink and Stan feels they should rest awhile.

Mhairi has grown fond of Stan but her destiny is elsewhere and she explains that once they pass Holly Island her way is up the Almond. Aye, that island, Stan says (priding himself on his history) was where the Romans threw a bridge across the river. They reckoned the Tiber looked like this so maybe that’s where Tay came from and on went Stan about why they called the town Bertha, near enough for Perth don’t you think hen?

Rested, Stan farewelled Mhairi and headed to Luncarty, waters a bit sweeter since they done away with the bleach fields he noted. Next hurdle was Thistle Brig, those canoeists gave me many a scar but lucks in naebodys aboot. Into the Red Rocks, Ministers Pool and approaching Pitlochrie Pool feeling a bit tired and peckish.

Ah there’s a nice fly, drat I’m hooked. I should have kent better. Sink doon, wrap the line round a boulder and wait, nae worries. I can see the boat above but he knows what he’s aboot, slowly I am pulled up, no gaff and landed on the boat. A Stanley voice? That’s Bob Campbell the Gillie but the toffs are talking about conservation (whatever that is). So I’m gently put back and I’m offski.

You ken how you talk aboot how your life flashes before your eyes at moments like that, well that dinnae happen to me. All I could think aboot was my Great Grand Dad, Big Jimmy who was taken on the stretch by rod and line, all of sixty five pounds if he was an ounce and would you believe by a wee bit lassie at Murthly. If that was not enough they stuffed him, stuck him in a glass case in the front window of PD Mallochs in Scott Street, plus a plaque telling all and sundry aboot his demise. The indignity, the shame of it all, och never mind that was the past.

Into the shallows of Duck Island, there I can see the fresh water oysters cooried under the river stanes, in this place most of the pearls on the Scottish crown and regalia were harvested. Up the tail race at the back mine, there’s the start of the Lade that goes through yon hill to the Mill. Whits that. Och it’s laddies from the village on the path, they remind me of my cousins the broon burn troot wild and free.

I am in deep water now, it’s The Linn. That big hoose wisnae there the last time I was here, almast hame. Round the corner, there it is the wee pool in the Kettle Mountains. Ye ken they named Stanley after some dignitary involved in building yon mill. But the truth of the matter is the eldest son of oor lot has always been named Stanley, we have been in this river long before Kenny Mcalpine was a laddie, and that’s a fact.

Stan took one huge leap out of his pool and looked around, man this is the finest river in all of Scotland, naw the world.

And that also is a fact.


Mac McPherson