'Scotland's Salmon King' is the autobiography of a man who started fishing at the age of five and hasn't stopped since, although now well into his eighties. Colin spent over 50 years as a 'ghillie' on the River Tay in Perthshire, when he was lucky enough to have a job which he enjoyed as a hobby, and which has been very eventful, both in terms of the fish he has caught and the people he has met whilst catching them. In this amusing and poignant account the author talks about the many interesting characters he has had the pleasure (or otherwise) of meeting, and also describes the way fishing, and other countryside pursuits, have changed over the years.
Born in November 1924 in Perthshire, Colin Leslie was the third child of four, and was employed from an early age on his father's farm. As a 'wee laddie' he was very much in touch with nature and loved to fish in the local rivers, beocming very good at it and catching his first salmon, which weighed eighteen pounds, at the tender age of ten. At sixteen he signed up to the Royal Navy for the Second World War and spent the duration on Motor Torpedo Boats around the coasts of France, England and Norway until coming under 'friendly fire' in which his ship was sunk and he was hit with thirteen pieces of shrapnel. During his injury leave he was able to do some of his most memorable fishing ever. After the war, Colin returned to Perthshire and took over the Cargill beat on the Tay, a job he was to remain in for over 50 years. During this time he took many people out to fish the waters, including the American millionaire Nelson D Rockefeller and the New Zealand King of the Maoris, who had come to Scotland to buy some cattle but who much preferred the fishing. Each year that he worked as a ghillie, Colin would keep track of the numbers and weights of the fish that were caught on his beat and he is extremely proud of some of the better years, when annual numbers exceeded 800, and of the larger fish he has landed, the biggest salmon being fifty six and a half pounds.