DONNIE Whiteford can still remember the first time he cast off as a wide-eyed five-year-old. He can recall the first time he felt the joy of hooking a trout and of landing a salmon.
Now a generation later Whiteford is still captivated by the lure of angling and as ghille / gamekeeper at Garynahine Estate he gets to enjoy his life’s greatest passion every day.
Under Whiteford’s watch, he took over the role at Garynahine which he describes as a dream job in 2011, the popular estate has smashed a record which stood for more than a century as a phenomenal 555 salmon were landed last season – well eclipsing the record set in 1909.
“I love my job at Garynahine and it is the only job that I would have moved home for as I was living and working at estates on the mainland when the positon came up,” explained Donnie.
“The estate was taken over by the McGilvray family in January 2011 and since then the estate has undergone huge changes for the better. There has been a complete refurbishment of the lodge, improved the forestry and facilities for the woodcock shooting and made the bridges and walkways throughout the estate safer.
“It has opened up the fishing for local anglers and given the estate a huge boost.”
In 1909 a record 467 salmon were hooked and landed in one season. And as the five year average for salmon when Donnie took over was just over 200, the record was not something he ever felt could be beaten.
But in 2012 there was something special stirring in the waters at Garynahine.
To read the rest of the feature on Donnie and Garynahine, see this week’s Stornoway Gazette, on sale now.