pay thousands for a beat on one of our rivers


Senior Member
Here is a sentence from a book:
There are consortiums of businessmen who'll pay thousands for a beat on one of our rivers. But not if there's no fucking fish in them!

What's the meaning of "for a beat on one of our rivers" please?
Thank you in advance
  • JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    Can you tell us where you found this, longxianchen? I'm not familiar with this piece of slang, though perhaps someone else is. But it would help if we knew what variety of slang we're looking at, so the name of the book, the author, and a little bit about the character who's saying this would be useful.


    Senior Member
    UK English
    A beat is a stretch of a river and, by extension, the right to fish in it. On a good salmon river, fishing rights can be very expensive.

    Simply put, all salmon fishing rivers in Scotland are divided into individual stretches of river known as beats. Each beat can be 2 or 3 miles long and is determined by who owns the land on either side of the river.

    It isn't slang of course, JustKate :).
    I hadn't had a clue as to this usage of "beat," either, so it's been educational.

    Is this related perhaps to a similar metaphorical-ownership usage of "beat" when talking about a police officer patrolling his area of assigned responsibility, "his beat", except in Scotland it's been (or has always been ) extended to mean actual legal fishing rights? Does anyone know if that usage is exclusive to Scotland? How about Ireland, since you say the author is Irish.


    Senior Member
    British English
    It's British English, not particularly Scottish or Irish.

    "beat" occurs almost a hundred times on this page about fishing on the the River Test in Hampshire, England.

    eg "The resident river keeper... takes great pride to maintain the beats of the clear, flowing river and bright gravel beds from which trout and fly life thrive."
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