About Ian Neale
I have been a professional salmon fly fishing guide and fly fishing Instructor for the last thirty years or so. I am also a keen photographer and salmon fishing writer/contributor, having written for most of the major UK salmon fishing magazines. I had my first book, "Shadows in the Stream" published in 2000. I have been contributing quality high resolution images to Trout and Salmon magazine for many years and have made the front cover several times!
In 1996, I was fortunate enough to be offered a guiding job by Frontiers company USA on the Ponoi River, Kola Peninsular, in northern Russia, arguably the best salmon fishing river in the World!
Later in the same year, I was then offered another guiding job for monster sea trout, based in Tierra Del Fuego in Argentina by the same company.
I was employed by Frontiers for the next five years as head guide on the Ponoi River and the Rio Grande in Tierra Del Fuego.
Return Home to Scotland
In 2001, I returned home to Northeast Scotland, where I started up up my own new business called www.speycaster.net or The Speycaster. The business was aimed at a niche market offering my services as a salmon fly fishing instructor and guide on the Rivers Spey, Findhorn and the Aberdeenshire Dee.
I have made many good contacts and clients over the previous years, who were keen to come and join me on my various fishing adventures in Northeast Scotland.
Speycaster.net and Bradbush B & B
The guiding business grew steadily and in 2010 my wife, Barbara and I managed to find a suitable small country house near Forres at Darnaway on the Moray Estate. We were keen to be able to offer our own small Bed and Breakfast business to my own fishing clients throughout the fishing season from March through September. We offer three comfortable king-sized double bedded rooms, all with en-suite or its own bathroom/shower rooms. It is very relaxed and comfortable throughout.
We also employ a small team of part-time and seasonal staff who offer their services as housekeeper and two part time fishing guides, whenever needed.
We have spent the last twenty years building up our small home-based businesses and they have been very successful, until the Covid-19 Pandemic emerged in early 2020! Our salmon fishing season is quite short with the best of the fishing season starting in mid-March and ending on September 30th each year. Therefore, we aim to try to make enough income to cover us through the closed Winter season!
Bradbush House at Darnaway, Forres, Scotland
The Salmon Fishing Season of 2020.
The season of 2020 was looking like it was going to be our best season on record, both in the Bradbush B&B side of the business and for Speycaster guiding/instruction side of the business!
However, as soon as "Lock Down" was announced at the end of March, all of our prime Spring salmon fishing months through April to June were all cancelled, both for B&B bookings at Bradbush and for the Speycaster guiding/instruction on the rivers Spey, Findhorn and The Aberdeenshire Dee.
Therefore, we now find ourselves at this very uncertain time as we move into the Winter months, with no prospect of any further income until March 2021. Assuming things are back to normal by then, who knows!
Lack of Government support
With our backs against the wall, we had no other option but to obtain a modest Bounce Back Loan in May through our own bank. However, we now have limited funds available in the bank to see us through this appalling crisis! The UK and Scottish Governments have not been able to offer any kind of financial support for us or many other small home-based businesses like ourselves!
I have been lobbying many senior members of the UK Government and also several senior MSPs in the Scottish Government. I have also written to our local Northeast Scottish daily newspaper, the Press and Journal, who have published two articles describing our plight! However, it simply appears that none of these politicians are listening and are seemingly not interested in whether we sink or swim! Chancellor Sunak famously quoted back in March that "The self employed and all small businesses, are the backbone of the British economy"!
The Future ?
At this time, we are doing our very best to try to plan for the future of Bradbush B & B and Speycaster. We have been busy marketing our wares both through social media and our own website, www.speycaster.net and inquiries for 2021 Salmon fishing season are slowly starting to trickle in. Needles to say, no one has that magic crystal ball, but as Barbara and I are both fishers, we have to believe, remain positive and look ahead to happier times with happy clients and guests through the 2021 season and beyond!
A Day in the Life of a Salmon Fishing Guide
The global COVID-19 Pandemic has created a very uncertain landscape for millions of British small businesses, which is going to make it very challenging for businesses to survive. Together we can help them.
Crowdfunder are offering up their platform to allow all UK small businesses to pre-sell their meals, events, hotel bookings etc. for cash now on a promise to redeem these at a later date.